Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State on Thursday during a programme on Channels TV, said that even if the Pope was his running mate in the forthcoming election, 67% of Christians in Southern Kaduna will not vote for him.
He noted that competence needs to be given more priority over religion and ethnicity, hence his decision to go for a Muslim/Muslim ticket.
According to the governor, religion must be kicked away from politics.
He revealed that his deputy, Yusuf Bala Bantex, was treated by his own Southern Kaduna people as an outcast because he was in the APC.
El-Rufai had dropped his deputy who wanted to contest the senatorial election and picked a Muslim woman as his running mate.
“What if I tell you that no matter who I choose as my running mate, even if I choose the Pope, 67 per cent of the Christians in Southern Kaduna have made up their minds that they will never vote for me. This is what the polls show.
“So for me, that is not the issue. The issue is this. Kaduna State is divided; it needs to be united. The way to begin to unite it is to take religion or ethnicity off the table. Since 1992, every deputy governor of Kaduna has been a Christian. What has it done for the state? Has it united the state? Has it assuaged the feelings of the Christian minority that they are part of the government?
“My current deputy governor is a Christian and I didn’t pick him because he is Christian, I picked him because we were colleagues from university and I know him to be a brilliant, focused and just man; but did that change anything? In fact, what it did was to bring disrespect to him. No one respected him in Southern Kaduna because he is in what they call an Islamic party. So, there are complicated issues in Kaduna which people sitting from a distance will not understand.”
El-Rufai expressed confidence that he will emerge victorious in the forthcoming election despite his unpopular choice of running mate.