A popular Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi, has said going by the culture and environment of Kaduna State, the state is not ripe for a Muslim-Muslim governorship ticket.
He said such ticket could create more tension in the violence-prone state, and that people of other ethnic groups and religions should be assimilated and not pushed out.
Mr Gumi who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES at his residence in Kaduna was reacting to a statement he was said to have made with regards to the Muslim-Muslim ticket in the state which went viral on social media.
The political atmosphere in Kaduna State turned a new chapter when the incumbent governor, Nasir El-Rufai of the All Progressives Congress (APC), announced his choice of Hadiza Balarabe, who is at present the executive secretary of the Kaduna State Primary Health Care Agency (SPHCA), as his running mate.
Mrs Balarabe, like the governor, is a Muslim.
She hails from Sanga Local Government Area of Southern Kaduna, a Christian dominated zone.
Mr El-Rufai on Tuesday defended his decision.
“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 said while hosting a delegation from Sanga local government.
The governor’s choice has provoked heated comments especially from residents who fear it would further divide the troubled state that has suffered from several ethno-religious crises in recent years. Curfew was only recently lifted in parts of the state where dozens were killed in such violence.
According to Mr Gumi, there is need for the minority indigenous people to be given political representation in any state, depending on their population.
Asked if he thinks the Kaduna Muslim-Muslim Ticket is politically motivated, he said, “The question on whether it’s politically motivated or not, I don’t think there is any individual who thinks otherwise.”
“Everybody knows that it’s politically motivated. Everybody knows that. What I’m saying and I specifically said is that you look at the time, the situation, the culture, the environment before you make such a move.
“What I feel is that it’s not yet the time. It is not right, especially coming a week after some people who lost lives innocently. Somebody is killed on the road, why? Because of his identity.
“So, immediately after such a crisis, we don’t need another thing that will create animosity between people that are destined to live together- and I specifically said indigenous people.
“If we have indigenous people, we should do everything possible to assimilate them, integrate them, not to castigate them and put them out.
“They brought the argument that this thing is happening in Plateau and other states and I said yes, this is one reason why we should show them that we don’t take our behaviours and civilisation from barbarism. We have a standard.
“Not only in Kaduna. We are now looking for the right of Muslim minorities in Plateau, in Benue, in Nasarawa too, they should be fully integrated into the politics. If it requires to be a deputy governor, they should have to.
“So we should advocate for Muslims where they are minorities to have representation, depending on their population in government and not to deny people who are destined to live together and show them they are outcast,” he said.
On whether he would advise the governor, Mr Gumi said “This is a season of open letters, started by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo.
“Obasanjo has access to presidents but he realised when he speaks indoors with the presidents and advise them, they don’t listen but if he writes it openly, he has washed his hands from their injustice.
“Likewise when we make public advice and pronouncement openly, it means we have washed our hands from any consequence of their actions.
“My Advice is that we should do everything possible to bring people together because without peace, not even religion can be practiced,” Mr Gumi said.
On the economic implications of the crisis in the state, he explained that he believes the violence in the state will deter investors.
“There will also be no economic development. Just look at Kaduna State now. I don’t see anybody with money who will come and build a factory in Kaduna. Why? Because Muslims and Christians are killing each other.
“So why will he come and waste his money? And Kaduna has the advantage of becoming the centre of the north. We are closer to the port than even Kano. It has all the advantages but nobody wants to do it. So anything that will increase division among these warring people, no matter how good you think it is, it is bad.
“We should do everything to bring them together so that we can live in peace and make the nation working again. So we don’t need political stunts and ‘avengerism’,” he said.
On the arrest of suspected killers of the late army general, Idris Alkali, Mr Gumi said the court and the authorities need to establish the nature of the offence.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Alkali’s body was found in a Plateau community weeks after he was declared missing by the army. His body parts have since been buried, according to the army.
“On the case of Major General Alkali, the court and the authorities have to establish if it was purely a criminal case or a communal case. If it was purely a criminal case, those involved should all be killed.
“If it was a compound reaction of a communal crisis like revenge wars, then, what I advise is that all sides be brought together by the government to reconcile communities. So, now, it depends on the government and the court,” Mr Gumi said.