Governor Nasir El-Rufai who got his party ticket to contest the 2019 election has recently stirred the hornet nest with his controversial choice of a Muslim running mate. Governor El-Rufai has chosen Hadiza Balarabe, a Muslim from Numana tribe of Southern Kaduna to be his deputy. She will be the second in the history of the state after Mrs Pamela Sadauki. Although the reason for this decision is still unknown, El –Rufai has a penchant in going for the best and experienced hands. Since the time he came on board, most of his appointments were done on merit and professionalism. Unlike other elected governors who appointed their aides or lieutenants based on political patronage, El-Rufai, being a technocrat normally opted for more educated and experienced people irrespective of their places of origin. Looking at the list of his commissioners will prove my point. Did El- Rufai pick Hadiza Balarabe because of her experience spanning over a long period of time? She was public health consultant, public health physician, and director public health, Federal Capital Territory Administration. Hadiza Balarabe, until her nomination was the executive secretary of Kaduna State primary health care development. Under her watch as reported, the primary health care in Kaduna State has become a success story.
In developed countries of the world where leaders are voted or elected based on experience, competence and ability to deliver, El Rufai has done nothing wrong by choosing Muslim running mate. But in our developing democracy in which religion, ethnic and regional politics play significant roles in the emergence of leaders, governor El Rufai has deviated from the age-long practice. Since the return of democracy in1999, Kaduna State position of governor and deputy are divided between Muslim dominated North and the Christian South. With the exception of 2011 in which the Southern Kaduna produced late Patrick Yakowa as the executive governor and Muktar Ramalan Yero as the deputy, that has been the norm.
Governor El Rufai, like his predecessors, has picked up his running mate from the southern part. Where he got it wrong this time was in picking a Muslim one in a polarised state like Kaduna with the history of ethno-religious crises. While nobody can deny the fact that there existed Muslim minorities in the southern part of the state, choosing one of them is a wrong decision. Plateau and Taraba States have the semblance of what is being played in Kaduna State. In Plateau State, it is Christian/Christian ticket in spite of the sizeable numbers of muslims. Also, the muslim population of Taraba State has never produced the state’s governor since the return to democracy in 1999.El-Rufai’s divisive religious politics will open up the politics of “we” versus “them” which is very dangerous for the political development of the state.
Ibrahim Mustapha, Pambegua, Kaduna State