Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai of Kaduna State has revealed that Pastor Tunde Bakare of The Citadel Global Community Church (formerly Latter Rain Assembly) introduced him to President Muhammadu Buhari and his previous party, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
El-Rufai speaking in an interview with the Pidgin service of the BBC, monitored in Kaduna denied he is a “jihadist” saying “they said I am a Hausa-Fulani irredentist, I am Jihadist and all that, Jihadist when? Where? I am not even an active member of any Islamic organization”.
“One of the most influential persons in my life, one of my closest political associates is Pastor Tunde Bakare.
“It was Pastor Tunde Bakare that actually introduced me to Buhari and CPC. I didn’t join the CPC because Buhari lives in Kaduna or he is a northerner. So, if I am an Islamic Jihadist, why will Pastor Tunde Bakare be speaking to me?
“They have called me all sort of names; they said I am a Hausa-Fulani irredentist, I am Jihadist and all that, Jihadist when? Where? I am not even an active member of any Islamic organization.”
“I am Muslim yes, a devoted one but, I believe religion is private. Even here in this office, when it is time for prayer.
“I just excuse myself as if I am going to the restroom, I don’t ask anyone to come and pray with me, because we will all go to our graves separately.”
“Look around me and see, I am not surrounded only by Muslims, this government is the only state government in this country that has at least people from 13 other states of the Federation as cabinet members.”
The governor also dismissed speculations of eyeing the presidency come 2023, saying he would be too old for a president at 62.
According to him, governing Kaduna state alone was telling on his age, not to talk of the entire country.
He explained that he had suffered presidential ambition suspicion for 15 years now, a situation that made some people saw him in bad light.
He said some had called him Jihadist so as to keep him out of the presidential race.
“Governing Nigeria is a serious job, which is obviously too much for a 62-year-old man
Look at me, look at my grey hair. If you see my picture when I was sworn in, my hair was very black but look at how it has become.
“This is a very difficult job and that is just state governor, one state out of 36, a big one, yes; a difficult one, yes, but it is not the same as Nigeria,”
“Presidency of Nigeria is a very serious job, it is too much for a 62-year-old,” he said.
On vying to be the Vice-President, he said: “I have not thought about it at all. I have said it that in the political system we have, after eight years of President Buhari, the presidency should go to the south.”
“I have been suffering this presidential ambition suspicion since 2006, I have suffered it for 15 years today, and I am sick and tired of it. There are people that are out to paint me in a particular picture so that, I will be out of the presidential race, but they don’t know that I am not in any race anywhere.”