Muslim-Muslim ticket a hard choice Nigerians may live with, APC NWC member replies CAN, PFN, others

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Tinubu.

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Immediate past Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum and sitting national Vice Chairman, North-West of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Salihu Lukman, has expressed concern over what he called ethno-religious consideration colouring the debate on the choice of running mate in the party.

The national secretariat of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at the weekend cautioned the presidential candidates of the two dominant political parties, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not to be blind to religious consideration in the choice of running mate for their standard-bearers, Senator Bola Tinubu and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) had also kicked against a ticket of a presidential candidate and running mate of the same faith.

Speculation is rife that the APC presidential candidate is under pressure to pick a northern Muslim amongst serving governors from the North as his running mate.

Lukman, in a statement at the weekend entitled, “Issues for APC 2023 Presidential Campaign,” however, said making choices based on ethno-religious considerations could be inimical to finding solutions confronting the country.

In an allusion to the CAN demand, Lukman argued that “If Nigeria is to move forward, 2023 presidential campaigns must not reduce important debates of moving Nigeria forward to sentimental considerations of ethnicity and religion.”

The member of the APC NWC submitted further that the “religious and ethnic backgrounds of leaders must be subordinated to experiential attributes of persons being considered for leadership.”

His statement read in part: “Tinubu won the contest indisputably. With his victory, the debate has now shifted to the choice of running mate. As usual, conservative and reactionary ethno-religious consideration are colouring the debate. Question of Muslim–Muslim ticket, implying that another Muslim from the North will most likely be Tinubu’s running mate.

“Leading party members are already becoming strong advocates for or against a so-called Muslim–Muslim ticket. This debate is reproducing the old pre-convention reactionary and conservative campaign.

“If choices of leaders are dictated by ethno-religious factors, Nigerian politics will continue to be disadvantageous to many sections of the country. For instance, only Christian southerners and Muslim northerners will continue to have advantages.

“Most of those trying to use religious arguments to influence the choice of running mate for Tinubu are impliedly arguing that a Christian northerner can only win presidential election if his/her running mate is a Muslim from southern Nigeria.

“In the same way, this will be politically disadvantageous, if not impossible for any Christian from the North or Muslim from the South to win presidential election. Such a backward national mindset must be changed.

“The challenge facing Nigerian politics is about opening the democratic space. It is not going to be easy, but Nigerians must be challenged to make hard choices.

“If the truth is to be told, both Islam and Christianity, as well as all our ethnic factors have been used in equal measure to hold Nigeria at a standstill. Many so-called religious and ethnic leaders have used and are still using religion and ethnicity to pollute the minds of Nigerians against one another.

“Perhaps, it is important to stress the point that whatever is the final choice of Tinubu and APC leaders with respect to who emerges as the running mate, the 2023 presidential election will be keenly contested, irrespective of religious and ethnic identity of both Tinubu and whoever the running mate may be.

“APC leaders must acknowledge the fact that the 2023 elections present another golden opportunity for the APC to re-invent itself.

“APC must, as a party, use the 2023 presidential campaign to effectively counter all these false narratives. Part of what must be done to achieve that is about developing effective communication strategy, which has been one of the strong weaknesses of both the APC as a party and as a govern- ing party at federal level,” he said.

Don’t succumb to pressure on Muslim-Muslim ticket, ASOMBEN warns parties

But the Association of Middle Belt Ethnic Nationalities (ASOMBEN) has warned political parties and their presidential candidates not to succumb to pressure from anywhere to run Muslim/Muslim tickets, saying leadership at that level must reflect the diversity in terms of religious belief.

Speaking to Sunday Tribune on Democracy Day celebration, the chairman, ASOMBEN, Sule Kwasau, said anyone that loved Nigeria would not contemplate Muslim-Muslim or Christian/Christian ticket for the country.

“Nigeria is a multi-religious and multi-ethnic country. We have seen over time how politicians in this country used religion to ascend to power and lord it over non-adherents of their religion.

“Those presidential candidates should know that religion is a very sensitive issue in Nigeria. The leadership must reflect the diversity in terms of religious beliefs, there must sense of belonging.

“When there’s Muslim-Christian or Christian-Muslim ticket, there is likely to be relative peace. If it worked during [MKO] Abiola and [Babagana] Kingibe time, it won’t work now because of the subsequent events that have taken place”, he said.

He warned that any political party that flies a Muslim-Muslim ticket within the current historical experience will not see the light of the day in 2023.

Kwasi, who flayed the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai, over his position on the Muslim/Muslim ticket, said the fact that it worked in Kaduna does not mean it is ideal for Nigeria.

“Some people say all politics is local, if he thinks it can be replicated at the national level, he should know it is not going to be possible.

“This country does not belong to any particular religion, if statesmen keep quiet in time of crisis, then they are no longer statesmen. Nigeria is gradually inching towards a religious war and our leaders must be very careful.

“It would have been a different thing if past leaders have shown capacity in terms of giving to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. I don’t bother which religion a person belongs to as far as I am getting what belongs to me.

“But we have seen over the years that our leaders often use religion to suppress none adherents. And there can be no peace without justice, until there’s justice, then we can have peace.”

On democracy day, the ASOMBEN leader pointed out that democratic processes in Nigeria had been bastardised, adding the recent primaries conducted at various levels had further worsened the situation.

“What we witnessed in the recent primaries are not good omen. Our democracy is a charade. We do not have true democracy in this country. The democratic processes have been corrupted and compromised.

You are playing with fire, Vatsa knocks El-Rufai

Meanwhile, a former Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism in Niger State and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Mr Jonathan Vatsa, has taken a swipe at the Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai over his comments that MuslimMuslim presidential ticket will not be a problem in 2023 elections.

Vatsa said that such arrangement would not only spell doom for the party, but also amounted to playing with fire.

“Kaduna State is smaller than Nigeria. If el-Rufai succeeded in Kaduna with a Muslim-Muslim ticket because he made sure the Christian communities in southern Kaduna did not come out to vote in 2019 general election to exhibit their displeasure, “such experiment cannot work in the presidential election in 2023”.

The former APC Publicity Secretary in Niger State, in a statement on Saturday, in Minna, titled “The Christians are Awake and Alive in Nigeria ahead of 2023 General Elections”, advised APC presidential candidate, Senator Tinubu to disregard el-Rufai’s comment “because no Christian in Nigeria can vote for Tinubu if he goes ahead with Muslim-Muslim ticket.”

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE


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