Asiwaju Bola Tinubu
Christian leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the North will not be campaigning for the party’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed, in the 2023 election over his decision to pick a fellow Muslim as his running mate.
The northern APC Christian leaders stated this in a communique they issued on Tuesday after they met over the party’s controversial Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket.
In the communique jointly signed by Professors Doknan Sheni, Saidu Ibrahim and Dr. Ishaya Bauka, the leaders said “we cannot in all fairness to our consciences and faith go to our various constituencies to campaign for a Muslim-Muslim ticket”.
Recall that Tinubu, a Muslim from the South who recently emerged as APC’s presidential candidate, announced a northern Muslim, Senator Kashim Ibrahim Shettima, as his running mate on Sunday.
The two-time former Lagos State Governor had said that he picked Shettima “with pride because I have made it not based on religion or to please one community or the other.”
According to him, “I made this choice because I believe this is the man who can help me bring the best governance to all Nigerians, period, regardless of their religious affiliation or considerations of ethnicity or region.”
The move had drawn wide condemnations from prominent individuals and groups, including the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which warned that the composition of the ticket could further threaten the country’s unity.
Adding their voice, the northern APC Christian leaders said they reached the following conclusions at the end of their meeting: “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 coexistence 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 – Musiim ticket is unacceptable. It doesn’t take the smart 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?
“The selection of a Muslim running mate is a display of crass insensitivity to the complexity of modern Nigeria and the entire Church. It s also a betrayal of the advocates of unity and peaceful co-existence with our Muslim brothers including notable lmams who had forewarned the Party and the candidate from traveling that treacherous route.
“That the APC has always come under the suspicion of the Church as pursuing an Islamizatıon agenda. Hence the various labels of the APC as: Islamic Movement, Islamic brotherhood, Janjawecd party, Boko Haram party, etc, etc. Now with all the positions in the hands of our Muslim brothers, it would take ingenious mendacity to prove otherwise.
“That if the APC said a Muslim- Muslim ticket would be injurious to the health of our nation in 2015, what has therefore radically changed to make Muslim – Muslim ticket good for the health of our nation in 2023, if we may ask?
“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. By so doing APC has recklessly thrown its Christian candidates under the bus across the nation.”
The communiqué further contended: “That considering the fact that PMB, the chairman of the party, deputy chairman north, the president of the 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: it this was to be reversed so that all these were Christians, can any contentious Muslim in Nigeria attempt to sell such patently unjust and unfair arrangements to the Muslim Ummah in Nigeria?
“The APC party constitution preamble states “will guarantee equal opportunity for all mutual and peaceful co-existence respect and understanding, eliminating all forms discrimination and social injustice among Nigerian”. The Muslim Muslim ticket appears to have violated this provision.
“That Mr. President being also the Leader of APC is urged to intervene in this matter in order to ensure justice, equity and fair play in the interest or the peace and stability of this great nation and save our party from disintegration. We believe that PMB who fought to keep Nigeria one, will not allow fanatics on both sides to wreak havoc on what remains of the tapestry that binds us a people. We can avoid the dire political consequences of the contraption called “same faith ticket”.
“We are disheartened 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. This will certainly result in a massive revolt against the party. Leadership is all about inclusiveness, justice and equity.
“At this moment of national peril, we believe that what should be paramount in Nigeria is UNITY. For without unity we cannot build. Any political party or candidate that elevates the greed of a few people above the needs of the generality of the people has no business running the affairs of Nigeria.”