Governor of Kaduna state, Nasir el-Rufai, has defended his choice of a Muslim as running mate for the 2019 governorship elections.
El-Rufai announced Hadiza Balarabe, a Muslim from Sanga local government area in southern Kaduna as his running mate and this elicited an uproar across the state.
But El-Rufai, while receiving a delegation from Sanga local government who paid him a thank you visit for choosing their daughter, said he was more concerned about work than religion.
He said when Barnabas Bantex, the incumbent deputy governor, told him about a year ago that he was going to contest for senate, he was in a dilemma over how to get a replacement.
“So, we started piling list of people for consideration and I had up to 32 names, including names of some people seated with me here today,” he said.
“Then we started selection and dropping of names based on merit. From 32 manes to 17 to 12 and then five 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.
The governor said he had made it clear to his cabinet members that he would not make any choice out of sentiments.
“From the beginning, I had told my team that, I will never choose or deny anyone appointment because of religion or ethnicity,” he said.
“But some people started all manner of things, ‘Muslim-Muslim ticket’ and so on. But Government House is not a place of worship, we come here to work for the people. The people that have criticised me most on this are people who never voted me in the first place.
“So, are they not supposed to be celebrating, if, in their own opinion, I have made a wrong choice? Then, why are they mourning?”