DAILY FILE – Governor Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna state has said that Dr Hadiza Balarabe, his deputy, emerged as his running mate in the run down to the 2019 gubernatorial election through a rigorous screening process.
The governor who made this known when Dr Balarabe was hosted to a grand reception at Kafanchan at the weekend, further said that the Deputy Governor was picked to stand on the ballot ‘’because she is just super smart , super intelligent and has great capacity to work.’’
I do not believe that in picking a Deputy, I should take into account whether he is a man or she is a woman. Or even his or her religion. The earlier we take these things off the table, and start looking for people that can get the job done even if they are from the moon, the better for us as a state and as a country. ‘’
El-Rufai revealed that she was selected from an initial list of 32 names which was later trimmed to 24, before it was cut down to five, by scaling through the elimination process.
He further revealed that almost all those who took part in the selection process had candidates for the position of running mate and lobbied for their preferred choices but nobody lobbied for Dr Balarabe.
The governor who had described the emergence of Dr Balarabe as divine, further said that anyone who said that he influenced her choice as his running mate is lying.
El Rufai recalled the suspense and intrigues that preceded the selection and ultimate announcement of the present Deputy Governor of Kaduna state, as his running mate in November 2018.
According to the governor, the search for running mate began when Architect Barnabas Yusuf Bala indicated his desire not to contest with him for second term but to run for senate.
‘’When my former Deputy, Arch Barnabas Yusuf Bala came to me and said that he was not interested in running for a second term in office, I was quite distressed. I asked him whether I had offended him in the course of our working together. He said no, our relationship is perfect,’’ he recalled.
The governor said that Arch Bala said that Southern Kaduna needs better representation in the senate. ‘’He said that he will sacrifice the Deputy Governorship seat to go and contest for the senate,’’ El Rufai said.
‘’ I told him to think about it because I did not agree with his position. I felt that his chances of winning that seat were not as high as being re-elected as Deputy Governor,’’ he added.
The governor told the gathering that they agreed with his Deputy ‘’to take some time and think about it before coming back and discussing again. We had a second discussion and he still insisted that he wanted to go to the senate.’’
‘’So, I said okay, let’s think about it some more and let’s have a final discussion in another month. This process took about three to four months before we informed anyone. When he came back the third time and he said that was what he wanted to do, I knew that I did not have any choice than to accept,’’ he said.
According to El Rufai, ‘’but I told him decisions like this, you and I always go to President Buhari and get his input. So, can we go to the president together so that you will tell him why you want to step down as Deputy Governor, to be a senator. He said that didn’t want to face President Buhari because if he goes to him, and he says that I must remain Deputy Governor, I will have to remain.’’
‘’Barnabas Yusuf Bala told me to meet President Buhari and present all the arguments he gave me,’’ the governor recalled.
El-Rufai said that he made the announcement that he was searching for a running mate in Kafanchan and asked for nominations of suitably qualified persons for the position.
‘’Some time in September 2018, I had a total of 32 names, 32 nominations, from every part of the state, to be my running mate. By then, I had already gotten the nomination and I was an aspirant. And I had up to November 2nd to have a running mate,’’ he said.
The governor said that ‘’a group senior government officials and I had our first meeting in Abuja and looked at the 32 names. That group had about 24 people, including the chairman of our party.”
According to El-Rufai, ‘’the first question that I posed to the group was this, ‘Is there any name here that you think is not qualified to be the Governor of Kaduna state? Because I’m 58 years old and I could die anytime.’’’
He advised that ‘’ the most important thing that you must take into account in running for Governor or President, is to ask, ’Is this man or woman capable of running the state as well as I can or even better than I can?’’’ .
El-Rufai revealed that ‘’by a process of elimination, we came down from a list of 32 to 24. So, we reduced the size of the group into a smaller one, and we looked at the 24. Through a process that I will explain, we finally came up with five names. ‘’
The screening group removed the names of all nominees from zone 2, the central senatorial district, because the governor is from there, El Rufai recalled.
‘’ Second, we said that we should pick a running mate from a local government that we have a reasonable chance of winning. From all the election statistics, we have concluded that there are local governments in Kaduna State that we had no chance of winning. So, all those that were from that local government were scratched off because there is no point having a running mate who cannot even deliver his polling unit,’’ he argued.
According to him, the committee was confronted with the issues of gender and religion because some of the nominees were women, while some of them were Muslims.
The governor said that the committee asked whether these category of nominees should be deleted from the list and he said no, arguing that ‘’ I do not believe that in picking a Deputy, I should take into account whether he is a man or she is a woman. Or even his or her religion. The earlier we take these things off the table, and start looking for people that can get the job done even if they are from the moon, the better for us as a state and as a country. ‘’
‘’So, I insisted that nobody should be eliminated on the basis of his gender and religion. So, by the time we finished our process, we had five names, they were two women and three men. And I took that to Abuja to consult with President Muhammadu Buhari. The rest is history.’’
El Rufai further said that ‘’ anyone that says that he was the one that got me to pick her as the running mate, is lying. She emerged through a process and at every stage, whatever qualification that we attached, she passed it.
The governor recalled that her name was the 28th out of the initial 32 names that were nominated and nobody gave her a chance of being picked. ‘’So, Hadiza emerged by the special grace of God,’’ he added.
El Rufai expressed his gratitude and that of the Kaduna state government, to the organiser of the grand reception, for honouring the Deputy Governor, adding that she truly deserves all the accolades that were showered on her.
He also thanked Alhaji Lamido Balarabe, Dangaladiman Jema’a, the husband of Dr Hadiza Balarabe, for all the support that he has given her. ‘’Most of the time, they say that behind every great man, there is a woman. But this is a case of behind every great woman, there is a great man. We are very grateful to him. ‘’
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