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Mixed Reactions Trail El-Rufai’s Children’s Withdrawal From Public School

Governor Nasir El-Rufai withdrew his children from Capital School located in Kaduna city centre, Northwest Nigeria, due to threats by terrorists to kidnap them.

It was 1:30 p.m., closing time at Capital School, located along Isa Kaita Road, Kaduna, Northwest Nigeria. The day was July 5, Monday, 2021.

A string of cars snaked out of the school premises’ main gate, carrying a substantial population of pupils home.

Majority of the pupils, however, surged out, boarding rickshaws, popularly called Keke NAPEP, which had converged around the main gate minutes before closing time. Their operators, whether there for regular commercial activities or hired by parents to convey their wards to and from school daily, are accustomed to beating the closing time.

The incident

It appeared as though nothing had happened to change the current atmosphere within and around the school. But something significant had, at a time known only to the school management and some pupils.

Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State, currently one of the most terror-troubled states in the country, had withdrawn his children, Abubakar Sadiq, who was enrolled there in 2019, and his sister, Nasrine, enrolled there later, from the school.

Governor El-Rufai had enrolled the children at the Capital School, a public school, to encourage top government functionaries to follow suit, following the growing public anger over the growing trend of officials enrolling their wards in private schools, and allowing the quality of education at public schools to dwindle.

The Kaduna State governor, however, withdrew his children  over an alleged plan of three terrorist groups to kidnap them.

He argued that leaving the children there would endanger, not only them, but the entire pupils of the school, who could be carted away by the terrorists, along with his children, who are the main targets.

Residents respond

But the atmosphere of the school and its surroundings, Monday afternoon, did not indicate any fear of insecurity.

The school management and pupils were quiet about the governor’s withdrawal of his children. However, residents around the vicinity and the metropolis expressed mixed reactions on the matter.

A resident, Alhaji Zakari Balarabe, told HumAngle that El-Rufai’s hardline stance as regards negotiating with bandits makes them want to humiliate the governor by showing that he and his family are not secure. “Considering the fact that abducting El-Rufai’s children is a high-profile abduction, I concur with the governor that leaving his children there endangers other pupils,” he said.

Balarabe added: “However, security seemed boosted around the school when the children (El-Rufai’s) were there, and security agents could secretly have heightened their monitoring of the school and its environment when the governor’s children were there.”

“I cannot now vouch for the continuation of that, and this situation could endanger other people’s children who are left bare for the bandits anytime they muster the courage to venture into the heart of the metropolis.”

Alhaji Balarabe again pointed out that the withdrawal of the governor’s children could also be to the advantage of the school management and teachers who “could have been overstressed by regular monitoring and inspection by Education Ministry officials when Abubakar Sadiq and Nasrine were there.”

But another resident, Abdullahi Usman, had a completely different view. “To me, Governor El-Rufai never intended to retain his children at the public school. I don’t buy his argument of bandits targeting his child or children. I don’t see bandits invading right the heart of the metropolis to kidnap his child or children. The metropolis is not insecure to that point.”

Usman observed: “The governor’s withdrawal of the children may lead to a string of such withdrawals by many government officials who had retained their children there not just because of the beefing up of security due to the presence of Elrufa’s children, but because of other benefits the school gets as a result of their presence.”

Alhaji Abdullahi Mustapha, on the other hand, believes Governor El-Rufai was right to have withdrawn his children from Capital School.

“Whenever they perfect their strategy and strike, hundreds of innocent pupils could be carted away along with the governor’s children, and some of them may even be killed,” Mustapha said.

“The governor, who is the custodian of the millions of people in the state, cannot be seen to be as insensitive and ruthless as to allow such a calamity to befall others because of his own children.”

Mustapha added that the security around the governor’s children and those securing the school might not be able to stop the terrorists when they strike.

Ibrahim Adamu, yet another resident, pointed out that El-Rufai’s enrollment of his children in Capital School was sheer politics. “He never intended to retain the children in public school. El-Rufai only enrolled the children to deceive the public that even the governor had his children in a public school,” he said.

Adamu further maintained that the governor bided his time until he got a good reason to withdraw his children. He  expressed the belief that El-Rufai’s children, even when they were at Capital School, still had lesson teachers at home because the governor would not be satisfied with the public school’s educational standard. 

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