Noah Ebije, Kaduna with agency report
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, has explained why he picked Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, a fellow Muslim, as his running mate for the 2019 election.
The governor said she defeated 31 others to emerge as his choice, irrespective of her religious background.
el-Rufai disclosed this at the Government House in Kaduna, on Tuesday, when he hosted people of Sanga Local Government, where Dr. Balarabe comes from. They paid him a ‘Thank You’ visit over her choice as his running mate in 2019.
Her announcement as el-Rufai’s running mate has generated a lot of reactions across the state because it is a Muslim/Muslim ticket, the first of its kind in the state.
In response to critics, el-Rufai said Government House is not a place of worship but a place of work for the people.
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“About a year ago, the Deputy Governor, Barnabas Yusuf Bala, told me he was going to contest for Senate and I was in a dilemma to get a replacement for him.
“So, we started compiling list of people for consideration and I had up to 32 names, including some people seated with me here today. Then, we started selection and dropping of names based on merit. From 32 names to 17 to 12 and, then, five names- three males and two females. At that point, and as usual, we consulted President Muhammadu Buhari, because he is the only person I know who has worked in the Army and has been governor, minister and president.
“So, when I told him, he said anyone older than you should be dropped, then, one name was dropped, remaining two men and two women; then, he said, since you are interested in a woman, pick the best woman. That was how I picked Hadiza because she was the best.
“Meanwhile, from the beginning, I had told my team that I will never choose or deny anyone appointment because of religion or ethnicity. But, some people have said all manner of things, ‘Muslim-Muslim ticket’ and so on. Government House is not a place of worship, we come here to work for the people. Those who have criticised me most on this are people who never voted for me in the first place. So, are they not supposed to be celebrating if, in their own opinion, I’ve made a wrong choice? Then, why are they mourning?” El Rufai querried.
Earlier, the people said the appointment of their daughter, Hadiza Balarabe, as his running mate, has given them a sense of belonging in the affairs of governance.
Speaking on behalf of the community, the traditional ruler of Numana, Etu Numana, Brigadier-General Aliyu Yamma (retd), said over the years, successive governments had forgotten the people of the area.
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He said: “The governor couldn’t have made a better choice than Hadiza. We now feel a sense of belonging in Kaduna government.
“We are just like black Americans in Kaduna state,” He also appealed to the governor to ensure the establihment of an army Battalion in Sabo Gida village, because of insecurity in the area. Sabo Gida has become a hideout for criminals; these criminals run from Plateau State to hide here. So, we are calling on the governor to help us with the establishment of an army battalion here.”
But, popular Kaduna cleric,m Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has opposed El-Rufai’s choice for 2019.
He said the state is not ripe for a Muslim/Muslim governorship ticket.
The cleric said such ticket could create more tension in the state and that people of other ethnic groups should be assimilated and not pushed out.