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2019: Christian leaders condemn Gov El-Rufai over choice of Muslim deputy

President of Northern States Pentecostal Bishops Forum (NSPBF), Archbishop John Praise Daniel, has condemned the decision of Governor Nasir El-Rufai to nominate a Muslim as his running for the 2019 governorship election.

Archbishop Daniel stated this while speaking in an exclusive interview with The Daily Times at the Area 1, Garki Abuja, headquarters of the Dominion Chapel International Churches where he presides as Senior Pastor. NSPBF comprises 19 northern states and the FCT, Abuja.

Other Christian leaders from the region that spoke exclusively to The Daily Times in condemnation of el-Rufai’s action include Rev. Yakubu Pam, the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for the 19 Northern States and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as well as Pastor Zakari Emmanuel, the President of Christian Media Practitioners of Nigeria.

According to Archbishop Daniel, Governor el-Rufai’s decision to pick a Muslim (Man or woman) as his running mate clearly indicates that he is indifferent to the religious sensibilities and feelings of others and therefore a deliberate attempt to spit on the face of the Christian community in the state.

He said, “I am from Kaduna State so I receive direct impact of el-Rufai’s actions in the state. You may wish to recall that only recently, the traditional ruler of Adara in Kajuru Local Government Area, the Agwom of Adara, Maiwada Raphael Galadima was abducted while he was returning from a meeting said to have been convened by el-Rufai.

He was later killed and dumped by the roadside after they had collected N10million ransom. As we speak, the killers of the traditional ruler has not been found and if recent history is anything to go by, nobody will be brought to justice for that dastardly act.

“There is also the recent crisis whereby nearly 200 people were killed within one hour in a Christian community in the state without Police, the Army and other security agencies stopping the act.

But the security agencies later arrived in order to prevent those whose relatives were murdered in cold blood from retaliation.

“It is while this tension lasts that a serving governor whose deputy is a Christian decided to now drop him and nominate a Muslim so that if he wins we will have a Muslim as Governor and a Muslim as his deputy from 2019 to 2023. This to me is the highest level of impunity and arrogance on the part of el-Rufai.

“It means that he has no care for the cry of the people of Southern Kaduna and rather telling them that he can do without them and nothing would happen. There are many Christians in all parts of Kaduna State.

If he doesn’t want to choose from Southern Kaduna for any reason best known to him, why didn’t el-Rufai take a Christian from other parts of Kaduna to balance the religious sentiments of the people?

“For your information, Kaduna has not always been a volatile state. Kaduna was a state where Christians and Muslims relate like brothers and sisters and therefore share mutual love and respect as well as eat together during religious ceremonies of the two religions.

So what happened? It is such divisive tendencies of politicians like el-Rufai that stokes embers of discord and put peace at jeopardy.

Today, our people are in grave danger in Kaduna state with several incidences of unprovoked killings, assault and rape of both young and the old that happen without anybody made to face the law for their actions.

On the state of the nation generally, Daniel recalled that members of his Forum had in September, 2016 visited Vice President Yemi Osinbajo where they suggested that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration should go beyond political patronage and look for economic experts from across Nigeria to tackle the challenges facing the nation’s economy.

The cleric added that Nigeria’s economy has been in shambles under Buhari’s watch with trial and error policies that have plunged the nation into recession, out of recession and back to recession again.

According to him, Osinbajo has proved that he has the capacity to bring change to the system because of the decisions he has taken each time he stands in acting capacity, adding that Osinbajo is rather trapped in a difficult situation where he cannot but support the government of his principal.

On what el-Rufai can do to ameliorate the situation, the Archbishop said the Governor’s reversal of his decision by choosing a Christian deputy may positively change the current narrative and perception of the people.

He said, “Well, maybe by 40 percent. He has already drawn the battle line by daring the Christians and people of Southern Kaduna.

If he reverses his action, that may help in some ways. Otherwise, I think el-Rufai has committed political suicide because the Christian community will unite and mobilize against him to ensure that an empathic leader with accommodating and uniting mind is elected to bring peace and development to Kaduna State.

On his part, Rev. Yakubu Pam expressed shock with the news of el-Rufai’s nomination of a Muslim as his deputy, saying the right thing for the governor to do was to carry the Christians along in whatever he is doing, knowing well that Kaduna is a state dominated by Christians and Muslims on equal proportion.

“What we will advise is that Governor el-Rufai speaks to his conscience before taking any action as a leader. He should also be sensitive to the feelings of other people and put them in his own shoes.

We know that power comes from God. As a leader, he should see himself as a symbol of unity and not act as if he is accountable to no one.

He should think deeper of the unity and oneness of the people because no one knows tomorrow except God. Ours is to give advice, the decision is his own to take,” the CAN Chairman for 19 northern states and FCT said.

In his own reaction, Pastor Emmanuel Zakari, the National President of Christian Media Practitioners in Nigeria said that Nigeria is not a Muslim country and therefore any leader worthy of his or her name would respect the religious feelings of Christians and others who do not profess Christianity and Islam as is done in secular countries.

“The President of Nigeria has a Christian as his Vice. El-Rufai himself has a Christian as his deputy. What has changed? Why did he suddenly decide to drop the Christian and take a fellow Muslim as deputy?

These are questions that need urgent answers because there is something sinister about what El-Rufai is doing that needs to be checked. What agenda is he trying to execute in Kaduna?

It is the people of Kaduna State that can answer those questions by rising to the occasion, using their votes to say no to such segregation and antics.

“I believe there is something Nigerians are yet to know about el-Rufai. Otherwise why is he acting with such arrogance? Look at Ambode and other governors across the country.

Once there is a large population of Christians and Muslims in a particular state, governors deliberately chose deputies from the other sides of the divide for the sake of peace, equity and justice.

So there is something about this el-Rufai and the earlier that thing is unveiled, the better for the people. His latest action is both condemnable and unacceptable.

It is against the people of Nigeria and must be resisted by all Christians using all legal means including peaceful protests to sensitize the people

and other stakeholders on the danger of the road el-Rufai is travelling because this latest decision is a clear indication that el-Rufaihas messed it all, not in part, but all. The media must also rise to the occasion against this lawlessness,” Pastor Zakari added.

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