El Rufai dares Christian voters.
Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State is not banking on votes from christians dominated southern part of the state as he seeks re-election as governor.
Speaking Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily programme on Thursday the governor while justifying his choice of a female Muslim running mate for the upcoming gubernatorial election.
He says that his decision to run with a female Muslim deputy designate was born out of the all important need to priortise competence ahead of religion and ethnicity,
El-Rufai, who was a guest, said Nigeria ought to divorce religion from politics.
The Christian Association of Nigeria CAN, and other interest groups had criticised the governor, who is a Muslim, for picking a Muslim running mate, thereby abandoning the traditional Muslim/Christian formula of selecting Governors and deputies respectively in the state.
El-Rufai, who is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, said even his outgoing deputy, Yusuf Bala Bantex, who is a Christian, was treated like an outcast because he was in the APC.
El Rufai made it known that the Christians in the state were not his fans and would not vote for him even if he had chosing a Christian running mate.
Defending his submission, el-Rufai said, “What if I tell you that no matter who I choose as my running mate, even if I choose the Pope, 67 per cent of the Christians in southern Kaduna have made up their minds that they will never vote for me.
“This is what the polls show.
“So, for me, that is not the issue. The issue is this: Kaduna State is divided, it needs to be united. The way to begin to unite it is to take religion or ethnicity off the table.
“Since 1992, every deputy governor of Kaduna has been a Christian. What has it done for the state? Has it united the state? Has it assuaged the feelings of the Christian minority?
“My current deputy governor is a Christian and I didn’t pick him because he is Christian. I picked him because we were colleagues from university and I know him to be a brilliant, focused and just man. But, did that change anything?
“In fact, what it did was to bring disrespect to him. No one respected him in southern Kaduna because he is in what they call an Islamic party“So, there are complicated issues in Kaduna, which people sitting from a distance will not understand.”
El-Rufai disapproves of the federal character principle and opined that it was stifling development in the country.
The architect turn politician express confidence in winning the election next March, even as he agrees that his decision to pick a Muslim running mate was unpopular in some quarters.
He posited that the Peoples Democratic Party which held sway in the state for 16 years never won as a result of a Muslim/Christian candidates arrangement but always rigged its way into power.
He added, “I want to assure you. One, I want to win this election so I am not going to take a foolish decision to make any point. I want to win the election for my party and the President.
“Those that are making the argument that I must have a Christian running mate have not been able to justify it, based on history.
“From 1992, we have had more violence in Kaduna than before. The presence of a Christian deputy did not change anything.
“Even when a Christian, Patrick Yakowa, of blessed memory, was governor, it did not stop the violence, the intolerance and the insensitivity. In fact, it exacerbated it.
“In Kaduna, in my view, the way to heal and unite the state is to completely remove religion and ethnicity from the state; but we cannot change three decades of intolerance in the state.”