Picking a fellow Muslim as running mate my toughest decision ‘because everything is religionised,’ says el-Rufai

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, has described the selection of Hadiza Balarabe, a fellow Muslim, as running mate during the 2019 election in the state as his most daring political decision.

Nigeria is a secular state predominantly occupied by Muslim and Christians. As such, religion often plays a crucial role in the choice of candidates for elective offices during elections in the country.

But speaking in Kaduna during the occasion of his 60th birthday, el-Rufai said his choice of a Muslim-Muslim ticket was to address the religion and ethnic problem in the state.

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The Governor said: “A lot has been said about some the decisions I have taken over the years, what people call daring decisions, let me make a confession today, all the examples of the decisions that I have made that are supposed to be daring and courageous.

“The most daring one is that, last year, I took a decision to pick a woman, a Muslim as my running mate to contest election in Kaduna state. It was the most daring decision I have taken because in this state, everything is religionised.

“If you invite someone to a lunch, he would try to add religion connotation to it. We are trying to cure our state of that religionisation and ethnicisation and I thought the best way to do it is to take religion off the table of Kaduna state politics. That was why we finally settled for Dr. Hadiza Balarabe. She confessed to me months after we had won the election that, when I called to inform her I was nominating her to be my running mate, she thought, oh, this man is going to lose election because of me.

“But, we won. And I say we probably won because of her, not the other way round. So, I want to thank our team. We have a very hard-working team in Kaduna. I have been blessed to have hard-working, intelligent people around who do all the work, while I end up taking the credit that I don’t deserve.”

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