Sani Dattijo, a former chief of staff to Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, has withdrawn his interest to contest in the governorship election in 2023, following the endorsement of his rival, Uba Sani, by the governor.

Mr Sani, who represents Kaduna Central Senatorial District, is the prefered choice of the governor’s cabinet, governor’s immediate and extended family as well as APC politicians in the state.

At an emergency cabinet stakeholders meeting summoned by Mr El-Rufai on Wednesday, the governor tabled the issue of consensus candidate before the select group of stakeholders.

Those at the meeting include the deputy governor of the state, Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe; the SSG, Balarabe Abbas Lawal; the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Yusuf Zailani; the Senator representing Kaduna Central, Uba Sani; former chief of staff to the governor Sani Dattijo, among few other trusted stakeholders.

Sources familiar with the deliberations at the meeting quoted the governor as revealing that his initial preference for successor was his deputy, Hadiza Balarabe, but dropped the idea after wide consultations with religious leaders, political leaders and other stakeholders.

The governor reportedly added that since Mrs Balarabe’s ticket might not fly, he therefore proposed Mr Sani as the consensus candidate.

The governor further made some political realignments, and asked Mrs Balarabe to continue as Mr Sani’s running mate, an offer she reportedly rejected on the spot.

The governor then directed Mr Dattijo to switch constituency and aspire for Kaduna Central Senatorial seat.

Insiders said Mr Dattijo had immediately accepted the governor’s decision in good faith.

In a message shared to his campaign platforms on Wednesday night, Mr Dattijo said he accepted the governor’s decision as the will of God, promising to support the consensus candidate to victory.

“Salam. Just to update you. At a meeting on Wednesday, the Governor directed that we rally round Senator Uba Sani for the Governorship seat. He has asked that I pick up the form for the Senatorial seat for Kaduna Central,” Mr Dattijo’s message reads.

“While this outcome is not what we have planned or hoped for, we have accepted it as Allah SWT’s will who provides to whom he wishes, when he wishes. Therefore we have entrusted our future to Him and prayed the State and the Nation will have the best of leaders in 2023.

“I remain grateful for Mallam’s mentorship and for your unwavering support, which I do not take for granted. I had earlier purchased the APC Governorship form but will be picking up the Senate form as directed inshaAllah.

“I hope we can continue to work together for the success of the APC in all elections. Your support is not taken for granted and will always be remembered and appreciated. Allah ya bar zumunci.”

While members of the governor’s kitchen cabinet had accepted Mr El-Rufai’s decision, it is however unclear whether other aspirants such as the managing director of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Bashir Jamo and former chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, Abdullahi Mukhtar, will accept the governor’s decision.