Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai has said that he chose Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, a fellow Muslim, as his running mate for the 2019 governorship election because she is the right person for the job.
Backstory: El-Rufai said this while receiving people from Sanga Local Government Area on Tuesday.
According to El-Rufai, the “Muslim-Muslim ticket is not a religious ticket but a competence and performance ticket.”
Balarabe’s choice as El-Rufai’s running mate had generated criticism, specifically, over the fact that she is a Muslim.
The Buhari connection: Here is what the governor claimed. “When we are taking serious decisions, we consult President Muhammadu Buhari, because he is the only person I know that has worked in the army, he has been Governor, Minister, and President.”
El-Rufai added that the President suggested that anyone older the governor should be dropped from the list of potential candidates for the post of deputy governor.
Eventually, there remained “two men and two women, then he [the President] said ‘since you are interested in a woman, pick the best woman’. That was how I picked Hadiza because she was the best.”
El-Rufai is convinced that most of his Muslim-Muslim critics were people who did not vote for him in 2015.
He said “The people that have criticized me most on this are people who never voted me in the first place. So, are they not supposed to be celebrating it. In their own opinion, I have made a wrong choice? Then, why are they mourning?”
The Paramount ruler of Numana in Sanga LGA, Brigadier-General Aliyu Yamma, said there could not have been a better choice than Hadiza Balarabe.
He said, “The governor couldn’t have made a better choice than the selection of Hadiza. We now feel a sense of belonging in Kaduna government. We are just like black Americans in Kaduna State.”
Bottom Line: El-Rufai seems convinced that the involvement of the President in the selection process of his running mate somehow makes the choice a less problematic one. Well, it depends. If he’s trying to ramp up the Muslim votes in Kaduna, the president remains popular. However for a lot of others in Christian dominated areas of the state, and outside, Pres. Buhari is not exactly the model for inclusive governance seeing as he also has been accused of making lopsided appointments.
A respected Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, said that the appointment is politically motivated. He said, “What I feel is that it’s not yet the time. It is not right, especially coming a week after some people who lost lives innocently. Somebody is killed on the road, why? Because of his identity. So, immediately after such a crisis, we don’t need another thing that will create animosity between people that are destined to live together- and I specifically said indigenous people. “If we have indigenous people, we should do everything possible to assimilate them, integrate them, not to castigate them and put them out.”