Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna state said despite being suspected of nursing ambition to be Nigerian president for 15 years, he does not have presidential ambition and is too old lead Nigeria at 62.
According to the governor, some people have painted him in bad light and called him names including Jihadist since 2005, just to keep him out of presidential race, noting that governing Nigeria is a serious job, which is obviously too much for a 62 year old man.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Pidgin service of the BBC, el-Rufai stated that governing Kaduna state alone was telling on his age, not to talk of the entire country.
“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,” El-Rufai said.
Asked if he is interested in the office of 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.
“They have called me all sort of names; they said I am a Hausa-Fulani heredentist, I am Jihadist and all that, Jihadist when? Where? I am not even an active member of any Islamic organisation. 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’m 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, am I 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. 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?” El-Rufai asked.