Governor Nasir El-Rufai has secretly withdrawn his son, Abubakar Al-Sadiq from Kaduna Capital School after what many observers described as a “political and media stunt” to give the impression that he is like any commoner.
While the enrolment of Al-Sadiq in the public school was greeted by a massive commendation from all walks of life, the removal of the son was not made public, a development seen by many as a “betrayal of public trust and confidence.”
It is not clear why the governor made a U-turn as some commentators said it could be due to the widespread abduction by kidnappers in public schools especially in Kaduna and neighbouring states, or pressure from family or lack or doubts on the capacity of the government school to groom his son as what obtains in private schools.
People living around the school said they were disappointed that the governor had withdrawn his son few months after the child joined the children of poor and middle-class citizens in the state to learn under one roof.
Many thought that the enrolment of his son would be a turning point for the public schools in Kaduna State.
“I am grossly disappointed because the whole enrolment episode looked deceptive,” said Ibrahim Yaro, a resident of Kaduna.
“Leaders should keep respecting their words and the promises they make. After the governor has removed his son from the public school, he is now busy increasing fees and sacking teachers…I really don’t understand where he is heading to. Someone should talk to him, please,” he said.
There was no immediate response from the Kaduna state government.
When Malam El-Rufai strode like a colossus in the company of his wife, Ummi, into Kaduna Capital School in 2019 and enrolled their six-year-old son, Al-Sadiq El-Rufai, in fulfilment of his campaign promise to send his son to a public school, many Nigerians had perceived his action as bold and exemplary and a people-oriented governor that was on track to revolutionize public education in the state.
They viewed it as a validation that he was not only a man of his words but the messiah that would return the lost glory of public schools in Kaduna State and give them an edge over private schools.
The Kaduna Capital School is reputed as one of northern Nigeria’s oldest government schools.
Seven months later when Daily Trust Saturday visited the school, it gathered that the young El-Rufai, then a student of Primary 2B, had made new friends and adapted to the environment and his teachers. A security guard had been attached to him, while other security guards were strategically positioned around the school premises to provide security.
At that time, the presence of Al-Sadiq El-Rufai in the school gave many parents whose children attend public schools hope that public schools are also good for their children. They had also thought that there were better days ahead for public schools in the state.
However, Daily Trust Saturday gathered that the governor has ‘secretly’ withdrawn his son from the school and enrolled him in an undisclosed school, leaving residents’ tongues wagging over his action.
Our correspondent also learnt that the boy was withdrawn shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown which eventuated in the closure of schools. But when the lockdown was lifted and students returned to school, Al-Sadiq did not return.
Some residents who expressed disgust at the abrupt withdrawal of the boy from the school, with diverse figments of imagination that border on insecurity and poor facilities, told Daily Trust Saturday that his action was not only propaganda to score a political point and betrayal of people’s trust but also a breach of accountability on his part and administration.
A human rights activist and Executive Director of, Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), Dr Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, described the governor’s action as a betrayal of public trust and failure of his government.
“The governor must also not forget that as the leader of the state, he is a father figure to all the other children in the public school system especially those that don’t have an alternative.