The former governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai, is in the news. Social media users have been critiquing his comments during the week regarding his state’s governorship election. Uba Sani of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in a tightly fought election. El-Rufai spoke about his party leveraging Islamic religious sentiments to give Sani victory at the polls.
[Nasir El-Rufai / Vanguard]
El-Rufai was addressing Muslim clerics in Kaduna at an event where he was handing over to Sani. The speech, which was in Hausa, has been transcribed by Premium Times. Here’s the transcript below:
“Why did I pick Dr Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe as my deputy in 2019? First, I calculated that most of those, not Muslims, don’t vote for our party. Most of them. So, why should I give them the deputy (governor) position? I did my calculation, and I knew we could win the election without giving them (the position of deputy governor). That’s first. That’s a purely political issue. It’s politics. You want to win an election and seek people to vote for you. We have observed that since we started practising democracy, we know places we used to win elections and those places we don’t. We’ve done that calculation politically. That’s the political point of it.
Secondly, what we wanted to prove to people, and thank God in the last four years, we’ve vindicated ourselves and proved that a government that has a Muslim as governor, a Muslim as deputy governor, a Muslim as SSG (secretary of state government), a Muslim as chief of staff, a Muslim as finance commissioner, we’ll not cheat Christians in Kaduna State. And everywhere we go, we tell them, Yes, that’s it; the top government hierarchy in Kaduna State are Muslims, but can any Christian in Kaduna prove that we’ve oppressed them? Is there any district that we didn’t renovate schools? Is there any district we didn’t construct a hospital? Anywhere that we didn’t build roads? Is there anywhere we didn’t help farmers, whether they voted for us? We’ve given everyone their entitlements.
Of course, Kubau (Local Government Area) voted for us the most (in Northern Kaduna), so I’ll add something to Kubau because they voted for us. What I’ll give Jaba, I’ll increase it for Kubau because Jaba didn’t vote for us. But we’ve given them their entitlements.
You, Imams and Ulamas, taught us that leadership in Islam is all about justice. The Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions lived with those that were not Muslims, including Jews, Christians and even pagans, but they addressed him as El-Amin (trusted one) because he treated them with fairness. Caliphs like Abubakar, Umar, Usman, and Ali did justice to those who were not Muslims. Nobody can say he was oppressed for not being a Muslim. But you’ll prefer the ones who support you. But don’t oppress any.
I always tell them. During this campaign season, they said “this and that,” and I replied ‘Yes, we’re looking for those who can deliver. We’re not looking at your religion. Of course, we consider the religious aspect, but I can’t say that. But what I am saying is, who is being oppressed? Open up and tell us if this government has treated you unjustly. No answer. Well, no one can say he is used to being engaged in criminal activities, used to being idle, but we stopped that. Or you were used to blocking the road, and we said if you do it again, this will be the consequences, and you know we can do it.
That’s what we’ve done for four years, myself and my team. And that’s what we still did, and Senator Uba Sani and Dr Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe still won their election (as governor and deputy) even with the religious gang up against us. You, the Imams and Ulamas here, were the ones who did the work, not even the politicians, because the politicians even betrayed us. And he, Senator Uba Sani, knows this. We know it. We’re aware of those who collected money on election day but switched off their phones, slept off and didn’t even bother to come out for the election. But we know the First Aid group members that served as polling agents.
Those we paid to protect the votes didn’t do so, but the first aid group members did. And we’re grateful for that, and may God reward you and how you dedicated yourself and supported us. In the name of God, I beg you to support Senator Uba Sani when he finishes his first four years. Re-elect him into office. Then we can continue to prove to people that Islamic leadership doesn’t discriminate but doesn’t condone deliberate mocking. It doesn’t condone indignity. That’s the only thing we want to prove, and we’ve started, but this is not the end; we’ll have to do it for at least twenty years, which will make everyone understand.
After Uba finishes his tenure and gets re-elected, that’ll be sixteen, right? (El Rufai served two terms of eight years as governor). Then we’ll have another tenure which will make it 24 years. That is when everyone will understand and say, ‘Okay, we understand, we know our status, and we know the Muslims will not oppress us.’ That’s it. And you’ll see that there will be peace. I swear to God, this has been our plan from the first day we started APC in the state, and God has been helping us with your prayers and commitment. We’re on the right path. May God bless you all.”