Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, says it would be difficult for the All Progressives Congress (APC) to defeat Seyi Makinde, his Oyo state counterpart, in 2023.
El-Rufai spoke on Friday at the commemoration and send-off ceremony organised for Nteranya Sanginga, the outgoing director-general of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), held at the IITA Conference Centre, Ibadan.
The Kaduna governor said the APC will try its best to unseat his Oyo counterpart but it would be tough because Makinde has governed well.
Both governors recounted how they had an argument during a sitting of the National Executive Council (NEC) on whether to lock down states in the heat of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2019, but resolved to do what they felt was best for their respective states.
“After that debate, I went back to my state and I locked it down. Seyi went back to his state and did what he called a partial lockdown, but he locked himself down because he got COVID,” el-Rufai said.
“The beauty of Nigeria is its diversity. In my state, I did what I felt was the right thing and he did what was best for his state.
“We’ll do our best to defeat you. But I know it will be tough because you’ve been a good governor.”
The governor lauded Sanginga for the courage and hard work he put into transforming IITA.
“As Nigerians, we’re very grateful to you for what you have done here because each and every state in Nigeria is a beneficiary of the groundbreaking research that you have done,” he said.
“Both of you (Sanginga and Akinwumi Adesina of AfDB) are breaking ground along with others and you give our children hope that Africa can be anything it wants to be if it works hard.”
Also speaking, Makinde said it was exciting to have worked with IITA on several projects in line with his administration’s vision to expand the state’s economy through agribusiness and to encourage youths to exploit the opportunities in the sector.
“There are so many lessons to learn from this great man because of his brilliance, passion and leadership style. We have worked together on several projects and I have no fears or worries about letting IITA lead projects such as the STEP,” Makinde said.
“He asked me to come down to Fasola and I saw the pictures of ‘before and after’ and the students fried chin-chin, baked cake, which got me thinking that I used to have the same opportunity at Bishop Philips Academy but we lost it along the line.
“So, I asked him to extend the programme to all the senatorial districts in the state and we picked one school per senatorial district; and now, the programme has spread to 13 schools in Oyo state.
“This is the electioneering period, and I want to use this opportunity to tell the people of Oyo state that if I am given another opportunity to serve, we will take the Start Them Early Programme to more schools in the state.”
The event also witnessed the launching of Sanginga’s autobiography, ‘Leadership in African Agriculture’.
Other dignitaries present at the event include Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB); Rashidi Ladoja, former governor of Oyo state, and representatives of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ooni of Ife.