By Abdulgafar Alabelewe
It has been three weeks since the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, enrolled his sixyear- old Abubakar Sadiq el-Rufai into the state government-owned Kaduna Capital School. Our correspondent, ABDULGAFAR ALABELEWE, who spent a day at school with young el-Rufai, reports.
At exactly 7:30am last Tuesday, the traffic was already building up on the ever busy Isa Kaita Road in Kaduna. That is normal on any school day, because the road does not only host many schools, it serves as a gateway to many others. The front of the Kaduna Capital School was already busy, as parents were dropping off their kids.
There was no sight of Abubakar el-Rufai, the six year- old son of the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, a ‘VIP’ pupil, who was enrolled in the state government owned school about three months ago. It was not actually a surprise because one would expect that, as a governor’s child, they won’t bring him to school that early. While parents continued to drop off their children up till a few minutes after 8:00am, many of the pupils and students began to arrive on their own on commercial motorcycles and tricycles, while others came on foot.
Only one thing was common among them: their green uniforms. But, even in their common green trousers and checked-green shirts, those from poor economic backgrounds we’re easily noticeable from their worn out dresses. Some wore patched uniforms. At exactly 9:00am, the younger el- Rufai was still not sighted arriving school.
Then, the correspondent decided it was time to go in and find out whether or not he was already in school; whether he actually either comes late or regularly or had even stopped coming shortly after his enrolment. “If you are here to catch a glimpse of Governor el-Rufai’s son arriving school, you are late. You may try again tomorrow,” a source in the school volunteered to our correspondent.
He added: “Yes, I mean you may have to try again tomorrow. And if you come at 7:30am, you won’t see him. Even if you come earlier and you start looking out for a big Prado Jeep or a vehicle with security escort, you still won’t see him. “You see that small car down there(pointing); not the Hilux but the one beside it, that is the car with which they bring him to school in the morning and take him back in the afternoon. I said you won’t see him if you come by 7:30am, because he arrives school most times before 7:30am.”
Security around him
The Nation observed that only the driver of the vehicle that brings the ‘VIP’ pupil to and from school, with a private Kaduna registration number, was inside. It was parked in reversed order beneath a tree that provides a thick shade over it. No any arm-bearing policeman or other security operative in sight. However, under another tree, metres away from the vehicle, was seated a gentleman one would pass for a Physical Education master due to his outfit. He was on a canvas, clad with a T-shirt and smart Jeans.
His assignment can’t be suspected by a stranger until such stranger attempts to enter Abubakar el-Rufai’s class. Though, seated few metres away from the class, he does not allow the younger el-Rufai go out of sight, even when he is on short break from the class. Despite being accompanied to the class and introduced by the school’s Vice Principal Academics, the plain – clothe security man, suspected to be a personnel of the Department of State Services (DSS), insisted on seeing our correspondent’s identity card.
Obviously satisfied, he then allowed access to el-Rufai’s class. His permission not withstanding, his eagle eyes could be spotted probing the visitor’s every movement throughout the stay with the younger el-Rufai and classmates. While leaving the class, the Vice Principal, in an effort to justify the security’s presence, told The Nation apologetically: “You know, there has to be security around the boy in view of the security challenges around. You know, the whole world already knows that the governor’s son is here. Therefore, he has to be given protection”.
About Kaduna Capital School
Kaduna Capital School, according its Principal, Malam Ibrahim Yunusa, was established in 1957 by the late Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, to accommodate children of ministers and other top goverment functionaries, especially of Northern extraction, who were working in Lagos, the then capital of Nigeria. “This school was established as a boarding primary school for the children of ministers. Also, white men who were posted to Nigeria as ambassadors used to bring their children here. But later, it was expanded to include a secondary school.”
The school operated under its establishment’s motive for a long time and continued to serve the elites, until later when government opened it to the general public who meet the enrolment requirements and could afford to pay the small amount of money fixed as school fees to enrol their children. Despite being opened to the general public, the school, unlike other public schools, charges tuition fee from nursery to secondary school level. “The difference between this school and other public schools in the state is that other public primary and secondary schools are free; from primary one to JSS 3; no child is expected to pay a kobo from entry up to graduation. But in this school, pupils in nursery and primary schools, pay N5,050 as tuition fee per term, and we have three terms in a year.
While those in secondary schools pay N7,050. “Also, this school is under a management board. We have certain schools that have management boards, like this school, Sarduana Memorial College, Queen Amina College and Barewa College; they can take certain emergency decisions without necessarily referring to the ministry. “On our admission policy, we advertise during the long break for admission for those interested in buying forms for N500, and we set a date for examination and we give admission to those who qualify. “So, as at now, we have over 3,000 pupils and students in the four sections of the school–the nursery, primary, junior secondary and senior secondary schools,” said the principal.
Renovation of the school ahead of el-Rufai’s enrolment
Prior to the enrolment of his son, Governor el-Rufai’s government had invested the sum of N195 million in the renovation of Kaduna Capital School, a move some of his critics have described as an attempt to turn the school to a ‘paradise’ before his son’s arrival. Many others, especially model and legacy schools like Queen Amina College College have, however, received avsimilarly attention since the emergence of el-Rufai in 2015.
This is why Capital School’s principal sees the school’s renovation differently, as he said that with the plan of Governor el-Rufai, the best is yet to come for Capital School. According to him, “This school was established 1957 and due to neglect by successive goverments, the school suffered serious dilapidation. The rot in infrastructure across the country affected Capital School seriously. So, we are happy that this goverment came to rescue the school from collapse. “If you had come to this school be-fore the renovation, you would not have been able to sit in this office for five minutes. But, the goverment’s intervention is not abnormal and it is not because the governor had planned to bring his son here.
“The governor, as everyone may be aware, had made it very clear in his campaigns that he was going to be addressing the problems in education sector and since he came on board, he has been renovating schools. So, it is not peculiar to Kaduna Capital School. Go to schools like Queen Amina College, GGSS Kawo, Sardauna Memorial College, KTC, and several others across the state; there is massive renovation of schools.
“In fact, Kaduna Capital School has not even benefiting as much as Queen Amina College and others. The best is yet to come because the goverment promised to spend N1billion on this because the governor has the love of this school in his heart; you know, the school is one the late Sardauna’s legacies and the governor said he will restore school’s lost glory by returning it to a boarding school and attract prominent people to enrol their children in the school. So, it is not because of his child, but the fact that the school is Sardauna’s legacy and because of the over 3,000 children that attend the school”.
It’s a political stunt for 2023 – Shehu Sani
However, the governor’s critics like Senator Shehu Sani will not agree with the principal. The senator described the governor’s son’s enrolment as a political stunt for 2023 polls. He said the action is clownish, comical and deceptive. Addressing journalists in Kaduna recently, Senator Sani had said, among other things: “His action was simply a 2023 political stunt set up for the media and people who reside outside Kaduna. “For people who reside in Kaduna, they know what public primary school look like in the state, they know where they are located and the problems they are facing.
“It is not because I have a political difference with him, no, but for whoever lives in Kaduna state knew that what the governor did with his son by enrolling him into public school was just a comedy. “It was a badly written Kannywood or Nolywood script. I know the governor likes Kannywood and Nolywood actors and actresses, but as far as l am concerned, that was a bad and poorly written script for the media in preparatory for 2023 and nothing else.
“He would have done better by upgrading schools in Kaduna, you cannot spend N195m in a particular school and then take your son and the media to that school and think you have done anything different. “Let me tell you, we had a governor in this state, Balarabe Musa, who has never lived in government house during his reign and all that while he was a governor he lived in his private house and I also know that the children of former governor Ahmed Makarfi attended this same Capital School. I also know that other public officials’ children go to that school too. So if you are not been corny, deceptive and comical, you would have allowed all your children to enrol into public schools.
Public school doesn’t mean primary schools alone, there are public secondary schools and public universities. “We have Kaduna State University, KASU which is a public University and we have several public secondary schools in the state. During Sallah, we saw the governor with a lot of his children and all of a sudden, you picked one of them and said oh, take him to Capital School, I think the governor is becoming a bad representation of Baba Sala, I Go Die and Basket Mouth, a kind of comedy situation. He is not new in this kind of drama.
It was the same person who was moving around Kaduna— Abuja road and he went with cameras that he was chasing kidnappers, so this is a new script but as far as am concerned, that is comedy”.
Inside el-Rufai’s class; his conduct
Abubakar el-Rufai’s classroom is located in the two-storey building primary section. A shocking sight of overpopulated classes common to all public schools greeted our correspondent as he made Abubakar’s. In some of those classes, pupils sat on the floor, while others, who apparently arrived the classes earlier, had occupied all the seats.
The younger el-Rufai’s classroom is,however, a bit different. At least, no pupil was seated on the floor. Overstretched facilities were equally evident, as some of the pupils, including the governor’s son, sat four per desk. The six-year old el-Rufai born in Maryland, United States of America, obviously did not mind the congestion, as he was full of live and ethusiasm while taking his lessons. The classroom has no fan, no air conditioner.
Not even the likes of fanciful chairs and tables, nor other kind of luxurious furniture the young el-Rufai had possibly enjoyed in his nursery school was present; yet didn’t look like he missed all those. It was 11:00am. The pupils had just returned from break, during which Abubakar was seen playing outside with his friends, shortly after taking his meal inside the vehicle. Like other children, he and his friends ran back to the class as soon as the bell rang.
After settling down, the class teacher, Hadiza Bukar, took her marker, as she approached the board. He started: “Before we went on break, we were learning two-letter words”. Before she could complete the question, ‘who can give example of two-letter words?’ five hands were already up, including El-Rufai’s and they were given a marker to write examples on the whiteboard, after which the whole class read the examples in chorus. Taking his turn, the younger el-Rufai took the marker and smartly wrote ‘We’ on the board.
What teachers, pupils say about him
Miss Bukar told The Nation: “Well, this is just his third week in the school, but I can tell you unequivocally that, Abubakar Sadiq el-Rufai is a very smart boy. He is very intelligent and very inquisitive.” Speaking about the boy’s conduct, Miss Bukar added: “He is very obedient and calm; he is very humble and does not get carried away by the fact that he is the governor’s son.
Sometimes, with the way he relates with other pupils in the class, I wonder wether he is conscious of his father’s status. This is because he does not see himself differently from the rest of the pupils.” El-Rufai’s teacher, who has worked in Kaduna Capital School for four years, said it wasvan honour for her to teach the governor’s son, just as she equally considered it a challenge, which she has resolved to deliver to the best of her ability.
According to her, “I feel honoured, excited and privileged to be the governor’s son’s teacher. I try my best, work harder now not because anyone is on my head, but because I want to also prove to the governor that teachers in public schools are equally good. “So, I take it as a challenge to deliver more on my assignment now, more than ever before. I study more and read my lesson plans and notes over and over again before coming to school,”he enthused.
Also, the Principal, Ibrahim Yunusa, said: “We are happy to have Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai’s son here in our school. Earlier in the year, the governor came here to monitor the progress of the contract that was awarded for the renovation of the school. “During the visit, he promised that when his son reaches school age, he will enrol him either in Kaduna Capital School or LEA Ungwan Sarki. I took it as a joke, but he was here last three weeks with the child alongside his wife, the mother of the child. And they went through all the processes of admission before we posted him to a class. The governor was shown his son’s class and he bade him farewell and left.
Since then, Abubakar Sadiq el-Rufai has been coming to school regularly.” The principal added: “Contrary to what we read on the social media, nothing has changed in the boy’s class and even in the school. Lessons have been going on the way they used to be. We didn’t bend any rule for the governor’s son. No single facility has been added to the school or his class.
We have been managing our resources judiciously like ever before.” The head of the Primary Section, Malam Ahmad Bature, said, for him, what he called the humility of the governor and his family, which, according to him, is being inculcated into the younger el-Rufai melted his heart. “Right from the first day, when brought the boy, the governor went through all the processes like every other parent would do. And since then, whatever we ask every other parent to do, they also comply accordingly. “Aside that, the boy comes to school regularly and very early too. He comes earlier than even me sometimes.
The boy comes and join the assembly quietly. He just fixes himself somewhere on the assembly. That alone is a reflection of discipline.” One his classmates, Ibrahim Khalid, who identified himself as el-Rufai’s friend simply said: “Abubakar Sadiq is my friend, we play together and I like him.”