Christian politicians in the 19 northern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) within the All Progressives Congress (APC) have rejected the Muslim-Muslim ticket by their presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, saying that it is a difficult idea to sell in their constituencies.
According to them, such same-faith ticket would create more crises in the region and could cost the party dearly in next year’s poll. LEADERSHIP recalls that Tinubu had on Sunday announced Senator Kashim Shettima (APC, Borno Central) as his running mate in the 2023 presidential election.
But the APC northern politicians warned of dire consequences of the Muslim-Muslim ticket ahead of the 2023 presidential poll.
Reacting to the choice of the former governor of Borno State, the group stressed that the country’s unity is of utmost importance more than any other consideration. The APC chieftains said that without unity, it would be impossible to build a nation.
A communique issued at the end of a meeting of the Christian Northern leaders of the APC within the 19 northern states expressed concern at the resignation of some high-profile Christians from the APC across the states of the federation as a consequence of the Muslim-Muslim ticket, with more to follow unless concerted efforts are made to redeem the party from hate mongers and those who seek to exploit religion to perpetuate their self-interests as opposed to national interest.
The communique which was jointly signed by Prof. Doknan D.B. Sheni, Dr. Ishaya G Bauka and Prof. Saidu lbrahim said with the Muslim-Muslim ticket of their party, it will be difficult to campaign for their party’s presidential candidate and the running mate in their various constituencies.
According to the communique, the Christian northern leaders said, “As Christians within the APC, we cannot in all fairness to our consciences and faith go to our various constituencies to campaign for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“That Nigeria is a multi-religious and a constitutional democracy and NOT a theocracy with religion as a major national fault line which cannot be whimsically manipulated without dire political consequences on our peaceful co-existence as a people.
“That the current Nigerian environment and political atmosphere of the nation is different from what occurred in 1993 and, therefore, a Muslim – Muslim ticket is unacceptable. It doesn’t take the genius to know that the Abiola/Kingibe victory in 1993 turned out to be a pyrrhic victory as there was never a President Abiola nor Vice President Kingibe. Is that what we want a repeat of in 2023?”
According to them, the selection of a Muslim running mate is a display of crass insensitivity to the complexity of modern Nigeria and the entire church just as it is a betrayal of the advocates of unity and peaceful co-existence, with even Muslim brothers including notable Imams forewarning Tinubu against “traveling that treacherous route.”
It recalled that the party had said a Muslim-Muslim ticket would be injurious to the health of the nation in 2015 only for it to now radically change to Muslim – Muslim ticket in 2023.
The Northern APC Christian leaders admitted that the rejection of a Muslim – Muslim ticket by Christians would undermine the electoral fortunes of the APC and its candidates across all states and constituencies where Christians enjoy numerical advantage, adding that by so doing APC had recklessly undermined its Christian candidates across the nation. “That considering the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari, the chairman or the party, deputy chairman – North, president of Senate, the speaker and deputy speaker, and now both the presidential candidate and his running mate, etc, are all Muslims and assuming that such lopsidedness does not violate S.14 (3) of the Constitution, if this was to be reversed so that all these were Christians, can any conscientious Muslim in Nigeria attempt to sell such patently unjust and unfair arrangements to the Muslim ummanh in Nigeria? It asked.
The APC Christian northern leaders called on President Buhari, as the leader of the party, to intervene in this matter in order to ensure justice, equity and fair play in the interest of the peace and stability of the nation and save the party from disintegration.
They expressed dismay that someone who wants to be a leader for all sections of the country is resorting to religious exclusivism as a tool for winning an election, adding that his decision will certainly result in a massive revolt against the party.
The group argued that the situation of the country now cannot be compared to what it was in 1993 when the people settled for a Muslim-Muslim ticket. “The selection of a Muslim vice presidential candidate portrayed insensitivity to the Christians in the Nation. The fear of the Christians in the north and the nation in general is that the APC party will be viewed as an Islamic party,” they said.
The group warned that if this selection of a Muslim vice presidential candidate is not reversed, there will be “serious and grave consequences. At this moment of national peril, what should be paramount in Nigeria is unity and not infrastructure or economy, for without unity, we cannot build. Any party or candidate that elevates the greed of a few above the needs of the many has no business running the affairs of Nigeria, ” the communique added.
The meeting had in attendance prominent Christian politicians like former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, former SGF, Babachir Lawal, former deputy governor of Nasarawa State, Silas Ali Agara among others.
Let’s Shun Religious, Ethnic Politics, Tinubu Campaign Group Replies
However, the director-general of an independent political support group, National Unity Movement for Bola Ahmed Tinubu (NUMBAT), Hon. Bamidele Faparusi, has called on Nigerians to embrace national unity in diversity, national integration and cohesion despite their differences.
The group, which is working together with others across religious and ethnic divides to promote national unity in diversity ahead of the 2023 general elections, said it was supporting the APC presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, because of his detribalised and religious-tolerant nature.
Reacting to a statement by a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Segun Showunmi, who faulted the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu for picking a Muslim, former governor of Borno state, Senator Kashim Shettima as his running mate, Hon. Faparusi urged Nigerians to embrace “national unity and shun ethnic and religious politics.”
According to him, “Placing competence and merit above religious and ethnic consideration in choosing leaders that would steer the affairs of the nation in the right direction is what Nigerians should consider while voting in 2023.”
He also appealed to Nigerians to get their PVCs and vote massively for Tinubu, in 2023, saying the APC presidential candidate is the only one among the presidential candidates who has deep understanding of Nigeria, its diversity and challenges and the capacity to fix the country to everyone’s satisfaction.
Faparusi, a former National Assembly member and commissioner in Ekiti state, described Tinubu as a “detribalised Nigerian, a great patriot, a great bridge builder and unifier, a religious tolerant man, and a believer in one God, one humanity.”
North West APC Backs Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Ticket
Meanwhile, the APC in the North West geopolitical zone has declared support for the choice of Senator Kashim Shettima as the running mate to the party’s presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The decision was taken in Dutse, the Jigawa State capital, when zonal officials of the party, led by the national vice chairman (North West), Malam Salihu Moh. Lukman, met with party leaders and other stakeholders in the state.
A statement by the zone’s publicity secretary, Malam Musa Mailafiya Mada, sai that prominent among issues raised at the meeting was the emergence of Senator Kashim Shettima as the running mate of the party’s presidential candidate Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and how the Zone should position itself in bringing victory to the party at all levels.
“Participants resolved to work for the unity of party members and stronger commitment to mobilize Nigerians to vote to elect Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Sen. Kashim Shettima as the next president and vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and all candidates of the APC in the 2023 general elections.”
The statement also noted that the ongoing voter registration also came up and participants complained that “the exercise was moving extremely slow due to the inadequacy of capturing systems which results in the poor outcome recorded by the geographical zone.”
Tinubu’s Choice Of Running Mate A Masterstroke – Gov Inuwa
Another supporter of APC’s Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket is Gombe State Governor Inuwa Yahaya who yesterday declared that the choice of former governor of Borno state Kashim Shettima as the vice presidential candidate of the (APC) is a masterstroke and right decision that will facilitate the party’s victory in the forthcoming 2023 presidential elections.
Governor Inuwa, while reacting to the development in a press release issued by his spokesperson, Isma’ila Uba Misilli, yesterday noted that as a committed and loyal party man, Shettima is a great asset to the ruling party and will add immeasurable value to the APC presidential ticket.
While congratulating the one-time chairman of the Northern Nigeria Governors Forum, Inuwa said with his background as an ex-governor and parliamentarian with visionary and patriotic ideologies, Shettima will be a ’round peg in a round hole’ as a vice president. Governor Inuwa opined that the Tinubu/Shettima ticket is an excellent combination that has already given APC an upper hand and set the opposition off- balance.
Muslim-Muslim Ticket Dead On Arrival – Babachir Lawal
The immediate past Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Babachir Lawal, has declared that the APC presidential Muslim-Muslim ticket is dead on arrival. According to Lawal, President Muhammadu Buhari must prevail on Tinubu to drop Sen Kashim Shettima as his running mate if the APC must survive.
In a statement he personally issued, Lawal described the selection of a Muslim-Muslim ticket as a disastrous error. “I thought I would be able to avoid commenting on the disastrous error by my very good friend, Sen Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in his choice of a running mate. I will be the very last person to stand in the way of my very good friend Tinubu’s path to the presidency.
“This is because since 2011 my consuming passion has been for him to succeed Buhari as President of Nigeria. It will not be true if I say that I did not see it coming. I have often read his body language, picked up snippets from several discussions with his lapdogs (some of whom, sadly are Christians but most of whom are moslems) and I have conveyed my reservations to them against the pitfalls of a moslem-moslem ticket towards which I sensed they were drifting, ” Lawal said.
“And why Kashim Shetima? He is an overambitious man who has a Machiavellian bent and has lots of money with which to procure a preferred-candidate status among Tinubu’s lapdogs. And as we are beginning to see, to also procure bogus supporters especially from among the Christian community to help launder his no-so-good image. But as a popular proverb goes: “Those whom the gods want to destroy they first make mad”. It appears that the gods want to destroy the APC and its Presidential Candidate and have chosen the instrumentality of the northern Moslem governors and their super ambitious tool and Kashim Ibrahim for this purpose.
“Alhaji Kashim Shetima is a Greek gift from the Northern governors to Tinubu. I advise Bola to make sure Kashima’s two hands are always in his plain sight and empty. True, based on the advice of his new friends, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has made his choice. And I am sure he thinks he is ready for the outcome of that choice. He has chosen to bring religion to the front burner of Nigerian politics. And being a Muslim he has chosen to take sides with his own religion. For all he cares, Christians can go to blazes with their votes. But he must also be told that there will be consequences for this choice. Some of them are that Christians all over the country will revolt against the APC to put the chances of his election in serious jeopardy. It will also put the election of all Christians standing for elections in Christian dominated areas in jeopardy,” Lawal said.
According to the former SGF, this could result in APC being a minority party in both the National and State Houses of Assembly. “Now tell me which Christian will vote for APC with the following contraption: Moslem Presidential Candidate (Lagos), Moslem Vice Presidential Candidate (Borno), Moslem National Chairman (Nasarawa), Moslem Deputy National Chairman (Borno), Moslem President (Katsina); Moslem Senate President (Yobe); Moslem Speaker (Lagos); Moslem Deputy Speaker (Plateau)
“The northern governors and some northern moslem elites must have persuaded him that they will never vote for a ticket that has a northern Christian on it. And he has agreed with them. But if he thinks a Moslem-Moslem ticket will win him the northern Muslim votes, he should have a rethink. They will massively vote for one of their sons because it is in their nature to do so. Buhari, their first son will not be on the ballot in 2023. Atiku their second son will be. Proof of a possible Islamic agenda was leaked when Governor Ganduje, the “Kadmul Islam”, gave advance notice that Tinubu had assured them he would be nominating a moslem as his running mate. For those who might not know, Governor Ganduje has a foundation called “Ganduje Foundation” which purpose according to its website is to “provide selfless service to humanity and Islam” but whose primary purpose it appears is the conversion of Christians to Islam.
“So if my very good friend Tinubu, in a desperate bid to become President, allows himself to be made into a religious bigot or even a mujahideen, he is welcome. But it is a risk that will not play out positively for his presidential bid. But, we’re to win and become President of Nigeria, it will be as a sectional President; an Islamic President. And he will surely face massive discontent and opposition even before taking off.
“Expecting Nigerians to ignore this crass insensitivity to the country’s diversity amounts to acceding to the perpetration of very grave injustice and discrimination against a huge segment of the society. No one who seeks to be president of Nigeria should ever deploy the tool of religious extremism and exclusivism as a tool to win elections. This is very very dangerous. And this is very sad.
“But, barring any last minute change of mind, Bola has made his choice. He should be bluntly told that in this choice Nigerian Christians clearly see a pending Islamic Republic of Nigeria in its infancy and are right to be severely anxious. There is gloom among the Christian community all over the country since Tinubu announced Kashim Shetima as his running mate. Are the generality of the moslem ummah happy with this? The answer is a resounding No.
“How then do we respond? The decision as to how to respond to this deliberately senseless act of provocation is both corporate to each religious group and also personal to each voter that love peace, and hate injustice. Christians want to continue to leave peacefully with their moslem neighbors at home, at school, at the workplace, in the markets and on the streets as we have always done or desired to do. And I am sure Moslems share this view too. No one person’s ambition to rule over us should be allowed to set us apart and at war with one another.
“Bola Ahmed Tinubu, should be compelled upon by whoever can do so to rescind this decision. President Mohammed Buhari should exercise his powers as the Commander-in-Chief and as the APC Leader to revoke this nomination of a VP by Tinubu. The APC National Chairman should refuse to sign the nomination forms if not rescinded, ” Lawal added.
Lawal said as part of his obligation to Tinubu, a close friend, he had on many occasions argued the merits and demerits of both ticket permutations to him. “I have done so in both verbal and written form and I have likewise, done so with some of his close respectable associates and friends. In all instances I had left him with the sole responsibility for his final decision arguing that in the end the consequences of the outcome of any bad decision will be his to bear. There might be some collateral damages though. I have also on several occasions passed on to him counsels and messages from some well meaning Nigerians intended to alert him on the possible outcomes of the Presidential ticket permutations.
“Tinubu is a very good man. He is a great listener. He has a very humble and friendly disposition to everyone. He is very generous in both cash and kind, especially where it could advance his political interests. But I have realized that it is in the nature of power that sycophants and lapdogs have the most influence on leaders with such character traits. They will lie to him, malign and disparage others and generally do anything to curry his favor and to also put well-meaning associates in a bad light. I suspect this is what has happened to my friend. He has been cornered by self-serving, hero-worshiping, lapdogs.
“It never used to be like this. While in his hay-days in Lagos, he surrounded himself with smart, street-wise guys that could tell the truth to power. He had Rauph Aregbesola, Yomi Osinbajo, Babatunde Fashola, Dele Alake, Muiz Banire, etc.The Lagos days were the days of think-tanks, strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation, principles and ideologies. But these people have since grown-up and moved up to establish their own systems leaving my friend stranded. Nature, they say, abhors vacuum.