Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, says some Christians will not vote for him even if he picks the pope as running mate.
El-Rufai’s choice of Hadiza Balarabe, a Muslim, as his running mate in the forthcoming governorship election, had sparked a controversy.

The Christian Association of Nigeria and some prominent individuals in the state had opposed the Muslim-Muslim ticket.
But speaking when he featured Channels Television on Thursday, el-Rufai said his choice of running mate was unpopular in some quarters, he was confident of winning the polls.

He said it would also help Kaduna to see beyond politics and religion.

“What if I tell you that no matter who I choose as my running mate, even if I choose the Pope, 67 percent of the Christians in southern Kaduna have made up their minds that they will never vote for me,” he said.

“This is what the polls show. So, for me, that is not the issue. The issue is this: Kaduna state is divided, it needs to be united. The way to begin to unite it is to take religion or ethnicity off the table.

“Since 1992, every deputy governor of Kaduna has been a Christian. What has it done for the state? Has it united the state? Has it assuaged the feelings of the Christian minority?”

He said Bala Bantex, outgoing deputy governor who hails from southern Kaduna, had been rejected by the people from the region because he is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“My current deputy governor is a Christian and I didn’t pick him because he is Christian. I picked him because we were colleagues from university and I know him to be a brilliant, focused and just man. But, did that change anything?” he asked.

“In fact, what it did was to bring disrespect to him. No one respected him in southern Kaduna because he is in what they call an Islamic party.

“So, there are complicated issues in Kaduna, which people sitting from a distance will not understand.”

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