Nasir El-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, has picked Hadiza Balarabe as his running mate for the 2019 election. Balarabe, a Muslim from Sanga local government area of the state, is currently the executive secretary of the state primary health care development agency.
Kaduna All Progressives Congress (APC) settling for a Muslim-Muslim ticket, the governor appears to be prepping up the stage for another chapter of unrest in the volatile state.
Governor El-Rufai announced his choice following the decision of Deputy Governor, Bala Barnabas Bantex, not to join el-Rufai in the 2019 race opting to represent the people of Southern Kaduna Senatorial District at the Senate on the platform of the same party.
As tempers flared over the development, the Christian community in the state and the predominantly Christian Southern Kaduna people have harshly criticized el-Rufai for his decision saying the action may not augur well for the unity of the state and may lead to further disintegration of the multi-cultural and multi-religious society, just coming out of crisis.
Some critics see it as means to promote women’s participation in governance while others, considering it from the perspective of crisis-ravaged state, that El Rufai has failed to take into account inherent geopolitical formation in Kaduna State and this smacks of insensitivity and negligence on his part.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the North has condemned the move yesterday, saying the declaration might pitch the people against one another and escalate the prevailing political imbroglio.
Spokesman of CAN in the 19 northern states, Rev Joseph Hayap, said: “We all know that a governorship candidate is at liberty to choose anyone as running mate, but that liberty does not mean the governor should not be reasonable and considerate, with regard to the sensitivity of the area he governs and the challenges of the environment where he is operating.
“What some people are saying is that he is trying to encourage women. But doesn’t Southern Kaduna have Christian women eminently qualified than the person he nominated? By doing this, he is telling us the kind of governor he will be in 2019.
“It is now left to us in Southern Kaduna to tell the world whether this is the kind of governor we want in 2019 or not. I think the decision lies in our hands. We need a governor that will unite Kaduna and not divide it.”
The Secretary of Kaduna State chapter of CAN, Dr. Sunday Ibrahim, according to Guardian: “Looking at the peculiarities of the state, at this time when we are talking of peace, what the governor did is not right. Kaduna is a Christian-Muslim state. So, for him to have presented a Muslim-Muslim ticket is unimaginable. We in the Christian community are unhappy over that, but I can assure the people of Kaduna State that religion will not divide us.”
He added: “It has never happened in Kaduna State, that is for people of the same faith to govern the state, but the electorate will decide and not me.”
Also, the President, Arewa Youths for Development and Progress (AYFDP), Comrade Danjuma Sarki said: “I want to say that El-Rufai as a candidate, and APC as a party have a right to choose whoever they like as running mate, but it is also the people’s responsibility to interpret the motive behind the choice. I know the governor’s action was for his own selfish interest.”
Fani Kayode reacts
A former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, on Saturday said the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai insulted Christians in the state by picking a Muslim as his running mate for 2019 election.
In a tweet, Fani-Kayode wrote: “It is wrong, divisive, dangerous, provocative and insulting for Nasir El Rufai to field a Muslim/Muslim ticket in the governorship election in a state like Kaduna in which 50% of the people are Christian and in which thousands of Christians were butchered over the last 3 years.”