Governor Nasir E’rufai of Kaduna has explained how he chose his running mate for the 2019 election.
In his first public response to criticisms over the decision, Mr El Rufai said he benefitted from President Muhammad Buhari’s counsel in deciding the candidate.
Mr El-Rufai last week named Hadiza Balarabe, the current Executive Secretary of the Kaduna State Primary Health Care Development Agency, as his deputy governorship candidate.
While some have applauded the choice of a female candidate, critics have accused the governor of insensitivity in picking a fellow Muslim for a religiously delicate state as Kaduna.
But speaking Tuesday when he received a delegation from Sanga LGA who came to thank him for selecting their daughter as his running mate, Mr El Rufai gave an insight how the decision was made.
According to him, Mrs Balarabe defeated 32 other nominees to emerge as his running mate.
“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 because she was the best.
He responded to criticisms about the “Muslim-Muslim” ticket, the first in years for the north west state.
“Meanwhile, from the beginning, I had told my team that, I will never choose or deny anyone appointment because of religion or ethnicity,” the governor said.
“But some people have 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 criticized 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?” Mr El-Rufai asked.