Storm rages in APC, polity over Muslim-Muslim ticket

By Tunde Joshua, Politics Editor

  • Tinubu well-meaning, say associates, supporters
  • Shettima faces ethno-religious bigotry allegations
  • ‘Disastrous error, satanic, Shettima, Northern Govs’ Greek gift to Tinubu’

All Progressives Congress (APC) troubled the already charged national political waters on Sunday with the choice of former governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima as running mate to the party’s presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu.

Tinubu who defended his choice of Senator Kashim Shettima as his running mate, explained that he could not choose a Christian and a Muslim at the same time. Recall that Tinubu on Sunday said he settled for Shettima, because all his life, decisions regarding the team around and supporting him had always been guided by the principles of competence, innovation, compassion, integrity, fairness, and adherence to excellence.

Tinubu specifically said the belief in prioritising leadership, competence, and the ability to work as a team over other considerations influenced his running mate choice. “I am mindful of the energetic discourse concerning the possible religion of my running mate. Just and noble people have talked to me about this. Some have counselled that I should select a Christian to please the Christian community.

Other have said I should pick a Muslim to appeal to the Muslim community. Clearly, I cannot do both.” “Both sides of the debate have impressive reason and passionate arguments supporting their position. Both arguments are right in their own way. But neither is right in the way that Nigeria needs at the moment.

As president, I hope to govern this nation toward uncommon progress. This will require innovation. It will require steps never before taken. It will also require decisions that are politically difficult and rare. “If I am to be that type of President, I must begin by being that type of candidate.

Let me make the bold and innovative decision not to win political points but to move the nation and our party’s campaign closer to the greatness that we were meant to achieve. “Here is where politics ends, and true leadership must begin.

Today, I announce my selection with pride because I have made it not based on religion or to please one community or the other. 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 Muslim/ Muslim joint presidential ticket of the party no doubt generated lots of reactions and concerns with stakeholders in APC applauding the decision and justifying the choice of Shettima . They argued that the Tinubu / Shettina ticket was done in the quest for a better nation. They said kindred sentiments like tribe and region are retrogressive and should be jettisoned to quickly rebuild the nation.

They insisted that vestiges of tribal, religious and regional sentiments have slowed the progress of Nigerians as a people and held the nation down. They argued that it is high time Nigerians deal with the toxic sentiments of religion and it’s kinds, which should be kept under bridle and bit.

Vociferous outrage from mostly Nigerians of southern region and perhaps the Northern christian minority, however, trailed the announcement made last Sunday. These cross section of Nigerians who rejected the single religion ticket, faulted arguments in support of APC choice as mere attempt to relegate religious sentiments only when it’s convenient for a particular goal rather than looking at a larger picture of the overall good of the country.

They considered it disgusting that the major reason behind the Muslim-muslim ticket by APC is the search for electoral victory because of the delve calculations that without a Muslim running mate, the APC will lose significant votes from the North and probably lose the entire presidency. The decision by APC is seen as less of religious problem but more of political dexterity.

To those who might feel displeased by his action, Tinubu said, “May I say this to all of you, especially to those who will be disappointed in my selection based on religious considerations. I will not and cannot ignore the religious concerns and ethnic sensitivities of our people. Taking them into due consideration is an important part of good and able governance.

“But religion, ethnicity and region cannot always and fully determine our path. To forge ahead as a nation toward development and prosperity, we must break free of old binds. We must recalibrate our political calculations to where competence and fairness matter more than reductive.

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PFN, CAN reaction

As expected, the Christian community kicked vehemently against the ticket and warned of it’s implications and imminent national upheaval if not carefully handled. As a body of Christ, both Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), rejected the Muslim/Muslim ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) through Elder Biodun Sanyaolu, Assistant General Secretary, condemned the act, saying the move would not be supported by members. “It is not about Muslim Muslim ticket or Christian Christian ticket it is the mistrust existing in us for the last seven years which have been so terrible even with Nigeria inter Religious Council, NIREC.

“All we are saying and want is the leader that will do well to everyone, irrespective of class, religion, sex, region, colour, among others. “All we are craving for is a leader that will be fair to all Christians, Muslims and even Traditionalists. Poverty doesn’t know religion. “If there is a bomb blast it will kill whoever on its way not minding religion.

We want good leadership that will be fair to all and good governance in Nigeria.” A top leader of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, said the party will not enjoy its support. The source said, “Our position remains the same.

The political parties have been warned that any party that fields a Muslim/Muslim ticket will not enjoy the support of the Christian community. “It is as simple as that. It applies now that the APC is throwing up a Muslim/Muslim ticket. The PFN has been saying it repeatedly that any party that flies that ticket, will not enjoy the support of the Christian community.”

Tinubu insulted Christians, he cannot be like MKO Abiola – Prophet Ayedogbon Prophet Samson Ayedogbon, Apostolic Leader of the Realm of Glory International Churches said Tinubu’s action did not only insulted Christians, but entire humanity as it indicated that he did not recognise the need to accommodate the feeling of others.

He spoke on on Arise Television breakfast programme, The Morning Show on Tuesday. He said Tinubu and his party would be depending on compromising the electoral process in the country through rigging, but urged Christians to stand up to every antic he and his party might throw up to ensure that such a plot did not work.

He earned that with the Muslim / Muslim ticket, Tinubu had plan to sustain the disrespect for Christians which had been the Hallmark of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. The angered cleric said “why are they rubbing this thing on our face as if Christians don’t matter? The leg of extremist religious bigot has been on our neck.

The Owo incident has just been put aside, Catholic priests are being kidnapped, people are still captivity, Christian girls are being kidnapped as booty and as a means of motivating the terrorists. All of these horrible things. Who played up the issue of religion? It is President Muhammadu Buhari.

Everything rises and falls with leadership. “In my village, every story you tell, every folklore is on the head of the tortoise. The President is the tortoise in this matter. His lack of leadership, his lack of balance, his lack of sensitivity to every ethnic group and every religion is what is now being taken to the high heavens. What he and Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu were sensitive to and respected in 2015 is what now being rubbished.”

Arguing that it was insulting for some people to compare Tinubu to the late Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola, who won the the June 12, 1993 presidential election on a Muslim-Muslim ticket, the cleric, stressed that it was like comparing apples and oranges, because the former governor did not possess the same qualities of Abiola outside the fact that Nigerians lived relatively peacefully then. “We’re now seeing the greatness of MKO Abiola.

They should stop comparing this thing with 1993. We did not have this history in 1993. None of them has the quality, the greatness and the personality that MKO had. You can’t be comparing apples and oranges, you can’t be comparing ordinary cocoyam and pounded yam. We’ve moved far from there.

Ayedogbon, who also emphasised the need for principle, equity, justice and fairplay, said Nigerian politics must not be about the votes only, adding that world over, it had been recognised that there could be no peace without justice.

Stating that any consultation by Tinubu with Christians at the moment, including the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at this moment, would be akin to medicine after death, he said it was no longer a question of whether Christian leaders would mobilise the members to vote against the APC, they had already begun to do so.

Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Dioceses He said the choice is what is call team selection and everybody will chose depending on what they think will give them a fair chance, adding that people will take responsibility for the choice they have made. He said “for me, it is not something to lose sleep over. If the people feel unhappy with the kind of choice they have made, that is why we are democrats, you can’t force it.

“We outsiders cannot force a choice of any candidate. It is now left for you to look at the choice that have been made. “And there is no guarantee that all Christians will vote for Christians and all Muslims will vote for Muslims”.

Borno CAN Chairman, Bishop Naga Williams Mohammed

Dousing agitation against single faith ticket by the All Progressives Congress (APC), the clergy has okayed the choice of the former governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima as vice presidential candidate of the party.

The Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Borno State , Bishop Naga Williams Mohammed zeroed in on the person of the vice presidential candidate by saying that Shettima is a lover of Christians. He said the former governor has a favourable disposition towards christians in the state.

Bishop Mohammed said “in the history of Borno State, there is no Governor that has been fair to the Christian community in this state as much as Governor Kashim Shettima. “I am saying this in the presence of God Almighty and this is nothing but the truth. Governor Shettima, in the history of Borno, is the only Governor that has sponsored highest number of Christian pilgrims every year since 2011.

“I am speaking boldly without fear or favour because as CAN Chairman I do not receive salary or kobo from government or any institution, but the facts need to be told. This governor has shown compassion to the Christian community.

“For example, when Gwoza people were driven from their ancestral homes, they fled to Maiduguri, and the governor personally came to CAN Centre in Jerusalem ward two times in June and July 2014. He gave N10 million for their upkeep at first instance, but the victims were not many.

By the end of October 2014, the IDPs from Gwoza increased to 42,000 in that camp alone. “Governor Shettima came again and gave another N10 million. He also gave additional N5 million for Christians from Borno who fled to Cameroon to be returned home. He gave another N5 million for nonindigenes who fled to Cameron to come back to Nigeria.

The governor even directed the Borno State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA to be supplying food directly to the IDPs in under the Christian leadership. “In fact, the governor insisted that he wanted Christian IDPs to stay together with their Muslim counterparts in various designated IDP camps here in Maiduguri but we the leaders felt it wise to separate Christian IDP’S to avoid frictions between displaced persons dealing with trauma.”

Politically On the political turf, even card carrying members of APC condemned the single religion joint ticket. An Adamawa State serving senator, Ishaku Abbo who is a Christian took a swipe at Tinubu for being insensitive to a delicate issue of religion in the choice of Shettima. The lawmaker who is a member of APC particularly castigated Tinubu for placing his selfish interest of winning next year’s presidency at all cost over the principle of equity, fairness, justice and national stability.

He, therefore renounced his support for support for the APC presidential candidate in the account if a single religion ticket. Abbo said “for Tinubu now to be given the ticket and turn around to do what he couldn’t achieve in 2015 despite opposition from Catholics and other Christian leaders is extremely irresponsible.”

According to him, Tinubu has disappointed some APC members like himself who were concerned with the search for a credible christian running mate for Tinubu “We sat down in Abuja and strategized and we concluded that he should not take a Muslim as running mate. He (Tinubu) threw away the report. My conscience will not allow me to campaign for Tinubu. I am a member of CAN; I cannot deny CAN.

I remain in APC. But I will take the survival of my country first over political considerations,” said Abbo. “We cannot work for such a man. I will oppose a Christian-Christian ticket because I am interested in the stability of this country. A Christian-Christian ticket will be insensitive to Muslims of this country. The country is evenly divided among Muslims and Christians. So any government that is Muslim-Muslim will be illegitimate and will never gain the respect of Christians.” Leaders and critical stakeholders in APC, however dismissed antagonists to the Muslim/ Muslim ticket.

They rather see it as the best decision which can give the party victory in 2023. President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan on behalf of the North East Caucus of the party, said Senator Shettima has demonstrated great competence, integrity and courage in all the positions that he has held. “We of the North East Caucus of the APC attest that Senator Kashim Ibrahim Shettima is the right man for the job and that he will be an able and loyal lieutenant to our incoming President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, insha Allah.

“We as a Caucus pledge our full cooperation and support to our candidates as we march again towards another resounding victory in the general elections. “We enjoin all members of our party across Nigeria too to give the APC Standard bearer and his running mate their utmost support. “We also assure Nigerians that the choices that our party has made in our presidential ticket are for the best of our country,” said Lawan.

Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum expressed optimism that the combination of both Tinubu and Shettima will guarantee victory for APC in next year’s presidential election. Zulum said “for me, and I am sure for many leaders and members of the APC, Tinubu’s choice of HE Kashim Shettima is the wisest choice at this point in time.”

“Shettima’s choice is very personal to me and together with our leaders and all stakeholders and members of the APC, we shall campaign vigorously, work day and night, to collectively secure overwhelming victory for the APC in 2023, insha’Allah.”

“Without the slightest doubt, HE Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has chosen a leader who has very deep understanding of our country and its complexities. “We are grateful to the national executives of the APC and members of the National Working Committee as well as all elders and stakeholders of our party.”

10 APC Governor’s support Shettima

Ten Governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at a closed door meeting with the President Muhammadu Buhari for an hour at his private residence in Daura, Katsina State on Monday, declared support for Senator Kashim Shettima as vice Presidential candidate of the party.

They were led by the Chairman, Progressives Governors’ Forum, Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi state, who said they had come to pay Sallah homage to President Buhari. The ten Governors included their host, Aminu Masari; Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano); Abubakar Bagudu (Kebbi); Abubakar Bello ( Niger); Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa); Hope Uzodinma (Imo); Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Simon Lalong (Plateau), and Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna).

They also expressed confidence in the combination of both men to ensure victory for the party at the presidential election. Chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum, Bagudu said, ” We were pleasantly surprised when Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu announced in Daura on Sunday that Senator Kashim Ibrahim Shettima was the Vice Presidential candidate.

“We were happy that it is no less a person than Senator Shettima who was announced the Vice Presidential candidate. No doubt, Senator Shettima would compliment the good qualities of Asiwaju Tinubu. “We are very happy at the choice.

The two will compliment one another and will surely consolidate on the achievements of the President in the past seven years.” Imo State governor, Uzodinma said Shettima’s choice as Tinubu’s running mate was a collective decision by all the Progressives Governors, and that all the Governors would work hard to ensure victory for the party in next year’s election.

According to him, “The choice of Senator Shettima as the Vice Presidential candidate is a collective decision. We shall work hard to ensure victory in all our states.” Plateau state Governor, Lalong also reiterated what Uzodinma said: “A Presidential candidate has the prerogative of picking his Vice. But ours is to ensure party’s victory in the Presidential election.”

Legally Reacting further on Tuesday a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebuoluwa Adegboruwa outlined 10 grave implications of APC Muslim Muslim ticket . He said the single religion ticket ; “shows absence of consideration for unity and plurality. “Desperation and over ambition. We just want power at all costs and we don’t care what others think or do.

“We can win the elections without you, especially by other means other than by open ballot. “It is a cruel affirmation of supposed superiority complex. That only one region determines electoral victory. That the presidential candidate of the APC is not acceptable to Northern Muslims. “It is an indication of a hidden agenda.

The spirit of Hope 93 died with MKO and those who betrayed him and his mandate. May Boko Haram, terrorists and insurgents, their sponsors and sympathizers not win the 2023 elections. “That Nigeria is not a secular state but rather being ruled to satisfy certain religious tendencies. “That the APC has absolute control of the electoral system and thus electoral victory may not be determined through free, fair and credible elections.

“That certain political tendencies and interests do not trust others to accommodate them if they are entrusted with power whereas they have been in power and accommodated by others. “That the APC presidential candidate has no mind of his own and he will be unable to defend the unity of Nigeria in crucial moments of decision making.

“That the APC is incompetent to manage a complex nation like Nigeria with diverse interests, different tongues and tribes and consisting of different faiths”. Also, al former Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF and close ally of the presidential candidate, Mr Babachir Lawal, has described as a “disastrous error” Tinubu’s resort to picking a fellow Muslim as his running mate.

The former SGF said though Tinubu is a good man and great listener, it is in the nature of power that sycophants and lapdogs have the most influence on leaders with such character traits. According to him, Tinubu has now been cornered by self serving lapdogs, and warned that the Muslim-Muslim ticket is dead on arrival. In a statement on Tuesday night, Lawal said; “I thought I will 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.

“As part of my obligation to him, a close friend, I 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 every one. 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 any thing to curry his favor and to also put well-meaning associates in 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 truth to power. He had Rauf Aregbesola, Yemi 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 living my friend stranded. Nature they say abhors vacuum.

Welcome the Abuja equivalent. But the Abuja equivalent are people inflicted with the modern Nigerian diseases – religious bigotry, sycophancy and morbid tribalism. “They are mostly political jobbers who are most times not averse to the application of diabolical means. Gone are the days of think-tanks, and strategic planning. Gone are the days of principles and ideologies.

Try and call a meeting; they will not attend. Try and make a plan; they will sabotage it. Everything is ad-hoc, everything is chaotic because they excel in such environments. The result is that they have played on his longterm ambition to be President and have built it into a sort of desperation and a crescendo that easily justifies this satanic resort to a Muslim Muslim ticket.

Greek Gift

“This is the calamity that has befallen my friend. 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 Shettima for this purpose.

“Alhaji Kashim Shettima 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.

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) e.t.c. APC the great! Wu na de try woh!

“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, were he 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 Shettima 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 who loves peace, and hate injustice.

“Christians want to continue to leave peacefully with their moslem neighbors at home, at school, at the work place, 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.

There is a story in the Bible on how some people responded to similar provocation: ‘And when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, ‘What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David.’ So Israel went to their tents” (1 Kings 12:16). “I will love for Bola to be our next President. But I am afraid a Moslem-Moslem ticket will be ‘Dead on Arrival’.

And the arrival date according to INEC’s election time table is 25th February, 2023. This ticket will drag down the whole APC members to the pit. We all should reject it”.

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