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The Brouhaha Over El-Rufai’s Running Mate

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The award for the most controversial governor at the end of 2019 will definitely go to Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai. The Kaduna governor thrives on controversy and I am sure the word should be added to his middle name. Since 2015, he has always been in the news for the wrong reasons. From paying killer herdsmen to cursing the three Senators in the state, it has been one week, one controversy.

Last week, he took his garb of controversy a notch higher by nominating a Muslim woman as his running mate in next year’s general election. I didn’t want to believe the story at first because we have many Northern Christians who bear Arabic or Hausa names. I thought it was another case of mistaken identity. I remember I had to explain many times to my colleagues from the South that the fact that someone is bearing the name Yakubu, Ibrahim or Adamu does not necessarily mean the person is a Muslim. I also remember when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Boss Mustapha as the Secretary to Government of the Federation, someone made a snide remark, “Buhari don appoint another Hausa and Muslim as SGF”. I had to explain to the person that Boss Mustapha is a Christian and not Hausa. He now asked, “But Mustapha na Muslim now.”

So, when I heard that El-Rufai had appointed Hadiza Balarabe as his  running mate, I thought the southern press, because of her name, mistook her for a Muslim. I thought the Kaduna governor would not be that insensitive and imperceptive to pick a Muslim as a running mate in a volatile state like Kaduna. The state had been a reference point for religious crisis in the country; from the Zongon Kataf, Sharia riot to post election violence which always ends up as religious crisis.

It is instructive to note that because of the religious crisis in the state, it has been divided into Christian and Muslim zones. If you are caught up in any of the zone in a religious crisis, you are a dead man. Little things can spark off religious crisis in the state because of the rift between the two faiths. The two major religions have always claimed to be the majority in the state depending on who you are talking to.

Kaduna is also the most cosmopolitan state in the North and like Lagos, you will find almost all the tribes in the state. So, I just don’t understand why in a state that is known for religious violence, someone will deliberately move to stoke the embers of violence and disunity.

I still don’t want to believe that El-Rufai will pick a Muslim as a running mate in a state like Kaduna, If he actually did that, then the electorate know what to do. Enough of taking people for granted and feel you can get away with anything. If he wants a woman as running mate, I am very sure there are a million capable and qualified Christian women in Southern Kaduna. This move is akin to touching the tiger by the tail. Mr governor, you still have time to retrace your steps and substitute Hadiza if she is actually a Muslim. A word is enough for the wise.



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