By John Shiklam in Kaduna
The umbrella body for ethnic nationalities in the Christian dominated southern part of Kaduna State, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), has said that it will not support any attempt to divide the state along religious lines.
The President of the union, Solomon Musa, said this while reacting to the Muslim-Muslim governorship ticket announced on Friday by Governor Nasir el-Rufai.
El-Rufai had selected Dr. Hadiza Abdullahi Balarabe from Sanga Local Government in the southern part of Kaduna as his running mate for the 2019 elections.
The nomination had attracted comments from across the state, with some people accusing the governor of trying to further divide the state which is already grappling with ethno-religious conflicts.
Speaking in a telephone interview, Musa, a legal practitioner, said: “For us in SOKAPU, at this moment, particularly with several things that had happened, we want a Kaduna State that will not be divided along religious lines.”
He however said every governorship candidate has the prerogative to choose anybody as his running mate.
He said SOKAPU is watching keenly as events unfold, adding that just like individuals, the union has its preferences and is waiting to express its preferences when the time comes.
Accordingly him, “It is the prerogative of a governor or any candidate to choose who should be his running mate. Normally this is done after political calculations.
“I am not a member of any political party, SOKAPU is strictly non partisan, therefore the choice of who should be the running mate is the prerogative of the contestants.
“They have decided to do that, whether that will give them the results, it is within their purview to know, based on their political calculations.
“I am not a political analyst, so I will not be in a position to say whether that will give them the result they want.
“But for us in SOKAPU, we are just watching keenly. We have our preferences like individuals and we will exercise such preferences when the time comes.
“For us in SOKAPU, at this moment, particularly with the several things that had happened, we want a Kaduna State that will not be divided along religious lines.
“We in SOKAPU respect diversity. If a party decides to field Christian-Christian ticket or Muslim-Muslim ticket, that is their prerogative, but the people will speak at the right time.”
Also reacting in a telephone interview, a member of the House of Representatives, representing Kagarko/Kachia federal constituency in Kaduna State, Hon. Jagaba Adams Jagaba, accused el-Rufai of resorting to religious sentiments to win elections.
He maintained that no matter the strategy adopted by the governor, he will not be re-elected in 2019.
“Whoever he chooses as his running mate is not my business, he is in APC and I am in PDP.
“But the fact remains that he is going to lose the elections, that is why he did that.
“But he cannot win the (2019) election. It is not possible. You know he has been claiming that the population of southern Kaduna is less than 30 per cent,” Jagaba said.
He said further that by nominating a Muslim running mate from southern part of Kaduna State, the governor thought he will get votes from Muslims.
Jagaba maintained that Muslims will not vote for the governor in 2019 because his administration has brought hunger and poverty on both Muslims and Christians, stressing that such antics will not work as religion will have no place in the elections.
“He did this to get votes from Muslims, but what has he done for the Muslims since he came to power? He has given them hunger, he has given them poverty, he has made them hopeless.
“Religion cannot play a role in this election because both Muslims and Christians are suffering from his failure as governor.
“The unifying force in the 2019 elections is the hardship people have been going through since the APC came to power. So religion will not play a role. The forces against him are two enormous from every angle.
“Even if he appoints a Sheikh from southern Kaduna, (as his running mate), that cannot change the results of the election,” he said.