The The All Progressives Congress (APC) has made its choice. It is now a finality. A Muslim-Muslim ticket for the 2023 presidential election. Many notable and less notable Nigerians have opposed this. Even members of the APC denounced the ticket. It’s hard to justify the decision, even for diehard party supporters. Every time they appear on television to defend him, they stutter; they insult. For otherwise eloquent and generally persuasive speakers, you would guess with certainty that they carry an enormous moral burden trying to find a connection between a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket in Nigeria in 2022 and decency, even morality. Absolutely no connection.
Here you can appreciate the anguish of those who raised their voices against such an insensitive political contraption in a plural society and at a time when the nation was torn to pieces along flawed lines of ethnicity and religion.
Just last week, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar and his running mate Ifeanyi Okowa, at the risk of being accused of repeating themselves, frontally condemned the ticket, calling it “the most callous of a diverse nation.
Okowa was particularly livid with the arrangement because, according to him, it denies any sense of morality, fairness and decency. He said: “Personally, I don’t believe in the Muslim-Muslim ticket. Sticking to one faith is not a good thing to do, especially in a troubled nation like we are today. It’s almost like continuing to have the presidential candidate from the North and choosing the vice-presidential candidate also from the North.
Atiku and Okowa are not alone. Ever since the APC conjured the Muslim-Muslim ticket, rowdiness and rage have followed it. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the highest body of the Christian faith in Nigeria, rejected it. Politicians, including members of the APC, condemned him. Every ear that hears spits on the ground, an involuntary response to the abominable.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the APC did not help matters. In his frantic effort to quell the storm of rejection that followed the decision, he said: “If we truly understand the challenges that lie ahead of us as a country, we must also see the imperative to place governance jurisdiction above religious sentiments. Even by his own admission, Tinubu implies that there are no competent Christians in the north. Such a response to a dark and thick cloud of criticism that followed his decision, rather than lifting the dark veil of self-denial, thickened it more and more, enraged more Nigerians. The men of his own party in the south and north laughed at the decision, and much more at his response.
Babachir Lawal, a northern Christian, former secretary to the Federation government and leader of the APC, described him as “dead on arrival”. His sentiments resonated with many other Northern Christians who disagreed, in very strong terms, with the decision to throw out such a same-faith ticket. Yakubu Dogara, former speaker of the House of Representatives, himself another northern Christian leader of the APC, literally spat on the ground to show his disdain for the ticket.
To emphasize, Lawal was a prominent member of Tinubu campaign team (pre-primary) and never held back his love and respect for Jagaban Borgu. He at every turn dressed Tinubu in comely robes, describing him as “a very good man, a great listener with a very humble and friendly disposition towards everyone; very generous in cash and kind, especially where it might advance his political interests. Lawal undoubtedly has a high regard for Tinubu. But he believes, like many Nigerians, that the Muslim-Muslim ticket is a disastrous recipe for failure and a powerful shear to further carve a nation already divided into several pieces of bitter unities fueled by religion.
Lawal sees the Muslim-Muslim ticket as a calamity that befell his friend, Tinubu. And the choice of Kashim Shettima as the height of such a disaster. He describes Shettima as an over-ambitious man with a Machiavellian bent. Lawal’s thesis is that Shettima is a Greek gift from the northern governors to Tinubu, implying in his open letter to Tinubu that Shettima will turn to undo him.
Lawal believes that choosing a Muslim-Muslim ticket was the instrument the gods prepared to bring down APC. He grasps it thus: “Those whom the gods want to destroy, they first drive them mad. It seems that the gods want to destroy the APC and its presidential candidate and have chosen the instrumentality of the northern Muslim governors and their super-ambitious tool, Kashim Shettima, for this purpose.
Nigeria has always been on the cliff of religion and ethnicity. Although nuanced in the past, the current reality is sour and surly. Those who dig up the 1993 Muslim-Muslim Abiola-Kingibe ticket from the muck of history are just playing opossum. This happened in the past when there was “desperation” among people to see the military and at a time when the nation was not too divided along the notorious fault lines of religion and religion. ethnicity. Under President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria violently crumbled in the face of these hegemonic flaws.
The APC as currently designed for the 2023 elections has the following coloring: Muslim Presidential Candidate, Muslim Vice Presidential Candidate, Muslim National President, Muslim National Vice President, all working to succeed to a Muslim President Buhari; President of the Muslim Senate (Lawan); Muslim speaker (Gbajabiamila); Muslim Vice President (Wase), among other national positions and appointments.
Many have grumbled and muttered about this skewed setup. This makes the need for national cohesion both compelling and imperative. Nigeria is a plural community. To isolate a group and treat them with disdain and contempt is both humiliating and underhanded. It does not respond to the urgency of effectively managing our particular and beautiful diversity.
One day, Nigeria will come to the point where no one cares about the religion or ethnicity of office holders. We are not there yet. These socio-cultural themes still define our choices and our actions. If religion doesn’t matter, why would the APC resort to the criminal enterprise of hiring ‘bishops’ to show up for the official presentation of the Tinubu-Shettima ticket. Such criminality bordering on identity theft could easily have been avoided.
Given the backlash that greeted the immoral and obscene Muslim-Muslim ticket option and the difficulty in marketing it to Nigerians, it appears that some within the APC have conspired to work against the party and wipe out the party. influence of Tinubu on the party.
I agree with Okowa and other prominent Nigerians and organizations that sticking to one faith at presidential level is not a good thing to do, especially at this time when the nation is being brutally balkanized according to patterns of faith and ethnicity. Tinubu must be wondering how he fell into the trap of this bait that has become both an albatross and a political anathema.
But it’s a choice he and his party made. The choice is up to the electorate. But if the vibe there serves as some sort of barometer, this business as predicted by Lawal seems dead on arrival.