By Emeka Okafor
Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, says he has finally buried his longtime ambition of being Nigeria’s President.
El-Rufai, who said he will not be running for the 2023 Presidency, affirmed his position that President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor should come from the Southern part of the country.
The governor said he had decided to pulled out plans to contest for the presidency in 2023 and anytime therein because he is too old to cope with the demands of the office.
The former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, who is now 62-year-old, had be rumoured to be interest for the nation’s top job since the time of serving under former President Olusegun Obasanjo as minister.
He spoke in an interview with BBC in Kaduna and monitored by Daily Trust where he claimed age was already telling on him.
El-Rufai said, “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.”
He was, however, unclear when asked if he is interested to be Vice President to a Presidential candidate from the Southern part of the country.
According to him, “I have not thought about it (Vice President) 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.”
El-Rufai said he was fed up being linked with the presidency, adding that such had been happening in the last 15 years.
“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.”
On those who refer to him as a Jihadist, he said: “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.
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“I am Muslim, yes, a devote 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.
“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 (Congress for Progressive Change). 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?”