Governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai has defended his choice of picking a Muslim as his running mate for the 2019 elections.
El Rufai’s decision to pick Hadiza Balarabe, a Muslim from Sanga local government area in the southern part of the state, had sparked mixed reactions, with some people accusing him of being insensitive to the diversity in the state.
But while speaking on Tuesday when a delegation from Sanga local government paid him a “Thank you visit” , The Governor said he consulted President Muhammadu Buhari before settling for Balarabe among 32 candidates for the deputy governorship position.
He said ” About a year ago, the Deputy Governor, Architect Barnabas Yusuf Bala told me he was going to contest for senate, i was in a dilemma to get a replacement for Architect Bantex.
“So, we started pilling list of people for consideration, and i had up to 32 names, including names of 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 5 names , three males and two females ”
“At that point, and as usual of us, when we are taking serious decisions, we consult President Muhammadu Buhari, because he is the only person I know that has worked in the army, he 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.
Explaining how he tried to get in touch with Balarabe, he said “when i called her, she said she was in Kenya, I told her that she will be my running mate in the 2019 elections and i asked her whether she accepts.
She did not give an answer immediately, but called me back after some minutes and said she accepted”, He explained.
El-Rufai added, “From the beginning, i had told my team that i will never choose or deny anyone appointment because of religion or ethnicity.