By DESERT HERALD
It appears quite certain that Governor Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai who hitherto before now may find it difficult to secure his second term ambition due to so many factors that includes controversial policies and demolitions that affected the lives and living conditions of many citizens, is now on his way to occupy Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna’s seat of power for the next four years. It was widely predicted by keen observers of Kaduna politics that PDP’s policy of wealth distribution and it’s approach to poverty alleviation coupled with the general dissatisfaction of APC’s approach to governance in the state which offers virtually no patronage to the people may earn PDP an easy victory to regain the coveted seat of the governor they convincingly lost about four years ago.
But is seems the shrewd Mr. El-Rufai has got his political calculations right as far as his determination to secure re-election for another term in office. In the election that brought him to power in 2015 and while the APC/Buhari factor then has won so many states and seats for the APC, the Southern Kaduna and precisely the Christian community that dominated the area did not vote for Mr. El-Rufai at all despite his choice of one of their own, Arc. Barnabas Yusuf Bala as his running mate. An official statistics obtained by DESERT HERALD from INEC’s record indicates that over 90 percent of the population of the Southern Kaduna did not vote for Mr. El-Rufai in sympathy to the then leader of the PDP and it’s presidential candidate, former President Good luck Ebele Jonathan. The same thing happens during the presidential election.
But despite their decision to overwhelmingly vote for the PDP during the 2015 election, Mr. El-Rufai went ahead to secured a convincing highest number of votes, a vote he secures only from the other part of Kaduna, precisely by Muslims who vowed to show their numeral strength to the Southern Kaduna people.
Having now realised that he can effectively win election even without the Southern Kaduna votes and in view of the reality of the resolved of voters from the Southern Kaduna to repeat what they did during the 2015 election (by voting for whoever emerge in PDP), Mr. El-Rufai took maximum advantage of the decision of his deputy, Arc. Barnabas to run for the Senate to adopt the typical policy and politics of Plateau and Benue States that completely marginalised and disregarded the yearnings and rights of the large Muslim populations in those states by picking a fellow Muslim, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe from the same Southern Kaduna as his running mate. It is a well known fact that despite the large population of Muslims in Plateau and Benue States, Muslims have never got the opportunity to be selected as running mates. In the two states, there has never been a Muslim deputy governor not to talk of a Muslim governor. Even in appointments, Muslims are hugely marginalised in Plateau and Benue States. There has never been a Muslim Secretary to the State Government (SSG) or any Muslim in the so called lucrative ministries of Finance, Local Government, Works etc as Commissioners in any of the two states since 1999.
In a chat with DESERT HERALD with a close political associate of El-Rufai who doesn’t want to be mentioned, he said “politics even in the United States is a matter of patronage. Why will the governor chose a running mate from a section or religion he is very much convinced will not vote for him? That will be stupid of him and will be a huge political miscalculation. What they will do in 2019 will be more than what they did in 2015, the governor and his strategists knows that very well. So what is the point of picking a running that his people will not vote for you? El-Rufai did not violate the constitution by picking a Muslim running mate. I hope you remember the election Chief MKO Abiola won? His running mate, Amb Babagana Kingibe is a Muslim too. So there is nothing new. If what El-Rufai has done is against federal character or whatever rhetoric, then political leaders of Plateau, Benue and even Taraba states are doing worse against Muslims. Why are the Christians or the Southern press not saying anything on those states? As a politician, one will naturally strategize and chose from people you are convince will give you votes. That was exactly what Governor El-Rufai did in the case of Dr. Hadiza Balarabe”.
With the shrewd and strategic choice of Dr. Hadiza as a running mate coupled with the no nonsense manner the governor handled the recent Kaduna uprisings which has earned him applause from even people that hitherto vowed not to elect him again, the PDP in the state may now find it very difficult to unseat Mr. El-Rufai as his popularity and approval rating has dramatically improved beyond the measure that can be of any threat to his second term ambition.
The Southern Kaduna people owing to so many things they created out of pure hatred are indeed in the biggest political dilemma of its entire history, perhaps since the carving out of Katsina from Kaduna State in 1987, as they clearly dont the number to vote out Mr. El-Rufai in 2019. But a Southern Kaduna Christian, one Mathew Kantiyok has perhaps provided the only way forward for his people. Mr. Kantiyok advised his people that, ” If we, Southern Kaduna Christians make the 2019 elections on the basis of religion, it’s a game of numbers we might eventually play ourselves. Do we have the numbers to single-handedly elect a Governor? No, we don’t.
The new Kaduna Deputy Governor candidate is she not one of our own? from Southern Kaduna? Are we going to deny her our constituency simply because she is not from our faith? What message are we sending to the outside world? This is an outright discrimination we are also claiming against.
What if we put all our eggs in one basket behind the PDP candidate and he fails to win because we will make ALL the Muslims consolidate behind the Governor and that will be over? Have we not annihilated ourselves from the political equation of the State?”.
Mr. Kantiyok further told his Southern Kaduna people that “politic is game played with brains and tact, not emotions and sentiments. Like I said earlier, it’s a game of numbers and to achieve whatever goal we seek to have we need those numbers. What I expect the 2019 political conversation in Southern Kaduna should be centered around getting a commitment from the Governor in what will he do to our constituency for getting our support in 2019. What will be the compensation of our Christian Deputy slot? More commissioners, Minister, Ambassadors, the portfolios? SA’s,? The SSG or COS perhaps and so more”.
DESERT HERALD reports that El-Rufai’s running mate, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe is a medical doctor with many years working experience. Dr. Balarabe is a devoted Muslim from Sanga Local Government in Southern Kaduna. Her husband, Lamido Balarabe is from Kafanchan local government.