Muslim-Muslim ticket dangerous, declaration of war, CAN warns parties, vows stiff resistance
Groups including the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Catholic Society of Nigeria have warned political parties against fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket in the 2023 presidential election.
They gave the warning as the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), the All Progressives Congress governors and the party’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on Tuesday intensified moves to pick Tinubu’s running mate ahead of Friday’s deadline by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Groups campaigning for Tinubu told The PUNCH that what mattered was a responsive and responsible government, not religion.
Since the emergence of Tinubu, a southern Muslim, there has been controversy over his running mate for the 2023 presidential election with CAN insisting that a Muslim-Muslim ticket was a recipe for crisis.
But the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, in an interview with Channels Television on Sunday, said competence not religion should be considered when picking a running mate.
CAN, in an open letter addressed to all political parties on Tuesday said it would take a Muslim-Muslim ticket as a declaration of war and would mobilise against political parties that adopted it.
The religious body in the letter advised politicians not to sow seeds of religious conflicts among Nigerians.
The letter which was signed by the national secretary of the association, Joseph Daramola was addressed to the chairmen of all political parties in Nigeria.
He stated that although there were reports of corruption at presidential primaries, it was a big relief that generally the activities were largely peaceful.
According to him, although it is the responsibility of political parties to pick their candidates, there is the need to strike a balance,” to guarantee that the nation enjoys peace and security after elections.
“As the umbrella body of Christians in Nigeria, we call on all the presidential candidates to choose men or women of alternative religion as their running mates. For avoidance of doubt, the CAN will not accept any presidential ticket that is Christian-Christian or Muslim- Muslim.
“This simply means that where the presidential candidate of the party is a Christian, the deputy should be a Muslim; and where the presidential candidate is a Muslim, the deputy should be a Christian.
“There should not situation where the presidential ticket of a political party in Nigeria, whether a major or minor party, will be two Christians as presidential candidate and running mate, or two Muslims as presidential candidate and running mate. All within us as Nigerians must be done to douse religious and ethnic tensions in the land.
“This minimum requirement for a valid presidential ticket in the Nigeria of today is that it is religiously diverse. With the crisis of religious fundamentalism and its mainstreaming into policymaking and administrative actions in Nigeria today, anything short of a Christian-Muslim or Muslim-Christian ticket is an undisguised effort to nurture religious conflicts and destabilize the country.”
Daramola added that in view of growing religiously motivated terrorism, including the recent attack in a church in Owo, Ondo State, “any plot to have both the President and Vice President come from the same religion is a deliberate effort to ignite the fire of religious warfare in Nigeria.
“The weaponisation of religious difference in the recent past as never before is a cause for concern and a sufficient reason for those of us who do not want this nation to go into avoidable crisis to cry out now. It will be plain disrespect for diverse religious communities in Nigeria for any party to go against common sense to foist a single religious ticket in a religious plural country with serious problems of religious extremism and violence on Nigerians. No party in Nigeria can deny the existence of credible men and women from both Islam and Christianity that can be their Presidential and running mate.
“Whereas CAN is not a partisan organisation and does not involve itself with the process of partisan politics, it has a responsibility to defend the religious freedom of Nigerian citizens, whether Christians or not. CAN has a responsibility to speak out and mobilize civic action against threats to the unity, peace and security of the Nigerian state.
“Therefore, we give notice to all political parties that we will protect the religious diversity of the Nigerian state and will “mobilize politically against any political party that sows the seed of religious conflict by presenting to Nigeria a presidential ticket that is Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian.
“We will consider such action as a declaration of war against the freedom of religion, the peace and security of the Nigerian state. We will consider such insensitive action as evidence of a deliberate action to plunge the country further into religious violence and extremism and destroy the foundations of the continuation of the Nigerian state.
“As the presidential candidates prepare to nominate their running mates, we sound the note of warning, through this letter, that only a diversified presidential ticket will be acceptable to Nigeria in line with the constitutional requirement of power sharing and the responsibility of sensitivity to Nigeria’s deep religious diversity.
“We pray that God will give the political elites the wisdom to seek peace and prosperity for the mistreated citizens of Nigeria and avoid the path of provocations that lead to violent conflict. May God guide our leaders to become statesmen and women who are dedicated to the promotion of the common good and not the mindless pursuit of destructive selfishness.”
Also, a group, the Oodua Youth Parliament, called on Tinubu to pick a northern Christian..
It said picking a Christian running mate from the Northern part of the country would give Tinubu and the APC the desired victory.
This was contained in a statement issued by the leader of the group Abdulmojeed Oyeniyi, on Tuesday.
Northern Christians and pastors under the aegis of Arewa Christians and Indigenous Pastors Association warned against the imposition of a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
The group, in a statement by the chairman, Rev. Shehu Luke, stated, “The ACIPA has observed with sadness the hijack of Nigeria’s political process and perhaps our future by a few money bag politicians with the tacit conspiracy of some of our legislatures and the Presidency.
“While the recently concluded primary elections of the major political parties have a public semblance of transparency, it is obvious that there was a covert inducement of delegates through a well orchestrated machinery which influenced.”
In its reaction, the Director of Publicity, Tinubu Support Organisation, Ekiti State, Abiodun Alonge, in an interview with The PUNCH, said what mattered to Nigerians was a government that could deliver the greatest good for the greatest number of the people and not whether the president and vice president belonged to same religion or not.
Alonge said, “The issue of Muslim-Muslim ticket or Christian-Christian ticket for Nigerians as of now is a non-issue. Hunger has no religion, poverty has no religion. If a Muslim is the President of Nigeria and a Muslim is the Vice President, as long as there is good healthcare, good education, jobs and our students are in the school uninterrupted by strikes for four years, no one will say it because Muslims are in power. The same thing if a Christian is President and a Christian is vice president.”
When asked for his take on Muslim-Muslim, the leader of the Grassroots Network for Asiwaju Tinubu group, Mr Abiodun Mafe, said he was concerned about the competence and capability of the person who will fill the vice president slot of the party.
On its part, the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria in a statement on Tuesday warned political parties against the imposition of a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
The statement which was signed by the Secretary General of the CSN, Very Rev. Fr. Zacharia Nyantiso Samjumi, said, “Ordinarily, there would have been nothing wrong with a Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket in a democratic dispensation if there is mutual trust and respect for the human person and where the overriding desire for seeking political office is the fostering of the common good. But one cannot really say so of our country at the moment.
“The present glaring crisis and division in the nation, a Muslim-Muslim ticket would be most insensitive and a tacit endorsement of the negative voices of many non-state actors who have been threatening this nation’s unity and peaceful coexistence without an arrest.”
Also, youths in the APC, under the aegis, of the APC Youth Progressive Forum, at a press conference in Bauchi on Tuesday rejected the Muslim/Muslim.
They therefore, called on the presidential candidate of the APC to pick a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara as his running mate.
The National Chairman of the group, Ukkasha Hamza Rahama, said the choice of Dogara, would douse tensions in the country.
Meanwhile, Buhari on Tuesday met behind closed doors with the APC governors at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Although the governors declined to speak with the media after the meeting, it is believed to be in connection with last-minute hunting for a running mate for the party’s standard bearer, Bola Tinubu.
Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, led the governors to the meeting.
Attending the Villa meeting were the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; governors Babagana Zulum of Borno, Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna, Mohammed Abubakar of Jigawa, Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa, Simon Lalong of Plateau, Yahaya Bello of Kogi, and Hope Uzodinma of Imo.
Constitution doesn’t stipulate religion as a criterion for choosing VP, says Gov Uzodimma
Meanwhile, the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, has said the constitution of the country does not recognise religion as a factor for picking a running mate.
The governor stated this in an interview with the state House correspondents after a meeting with the President.
He said, “There is nowhere in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where religion is a factor or characteristic as to who becomes the president or who becomes the running mate.
“But we are looking for a united Nigeria, where governance will be the issue, where a president would be adjudged by his capacity to deliver democratic dividends, and develop Nigeria to look like other parts of the Western world where democracy is working.
“The decision also to choose a running mate does not reside with any of us, the governors. It is the presidential candidate that will look at the local characteristics and every factor—political and apolitical—that will make him win his election and take the decision. So, it’s not a decision that we will sit here and take for the candidate.”
Noting that running mates are not elected at primary elections, the governor warned about the danger of divisiveness when picking one.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party will on Thursday announce the running mate to its presidential candidate, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.
The party’s National Chairman, Iyiochia Ayu, disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja before the commencement of a committee saddled with the responsibility of picking the vice-presidential candidate.
The PUNCH had on Friday reported that the PDP had constituted a committee consisting representatives of of the National Working Committee and the Board of Trustees members as well as former governors with the mandate of picking its vice-presidential candidate.
According to the report, those who are lobbying for the slot include the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and his Delta State counterpart, Ifeanyi Okowa.
At the committee meeting on Tuesday, Ayu said the running mate would be unveiled in the next 48 hours.
He explained that the meeting was in furtherance of consultations aimed at arriving at a choice which Nigerians would be glad to elect into office.
Ayu said, “The presidential candidate of our party would have been here, but this morning he suddenly dashed somewhere. He apologised and if he comes early, he will join us. But we will go ahead with the assignment he has given us.
“The candidate wrote to us, as the administrative arm of the party, on the choice of his running mate.
“Various organs of the party are well represented in his committee —NWC, Governors Forum, National Assembly, former governors which have put forward their candidate
“This deliberation will be chaired by my able Deputy, Ambassador Umaru Damagum
“I wish you a successful deliberation and I hope you come up with a conclusion between tomorrow and Friday.
“Our presidential candidate, this time, has decided to carry everybody along unlike 2019 when he didn’t consult widely in his choice of running mate.
The meeting was attended by the Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Aminu Tambuwal; Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed; Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom; former Senate President, David Mark; former Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko; former Cross River State Governor, Liyel Imoke, and Senator Philip Aduda.
A Senior Special Assistant to Tambuwal, who is also a member of the special convention of the party, Yusuf Dingyadi, said the governor had no candidate for the VP slot.
He said, “The party is looking for a vice presidential candidate who is loyal, acceptable, committed and no one is committed rather than those who has suffer for the party.
“This advisory committee, when they finished, they will submit their report of whom they choose to the national chairman who will in turn forward same to the presidential candidate.
“The PDP is not going to choose anybody because of injustice or because we are afraid of election. Our party is going to win 2023 election by God’s grace.
“We are going to bring to Nigerians, the best team, those who understand problems ad can solve it and not those ran away from people.
“We are also not concerned about the problem of APC, concerning Muslim-Muslim tickets, we don’t look at religion but rather looking at making Nigeria to be united” he added”
He said advisory committee is made up of Governors, former Governors, former principal members of the national assembly, former ambassadors among others under the chairmanship of Ambassador Illiya Damagum, the deputy national chairman North.
When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, said, “The word Advisory Committee is impressive, when it is an advisory committee it means it has to report to other bodies. Will it be wise for me to make comment on an advisory that may or may not happen?
“The party will come out. We are a party of process, a party of order. We will let the public know. At the appropriate time, we will get back to let you know the running mate.”
VP screening committee
The National Working Committee of the PDP has approved composition of a committee that will screen the party’s nominated vice presidential candidate.
According to the National Organising Secretary, Umar Bature, members of the committee include the Chairman, High Chief Tom Ikimi; Secretary, Dr. Akilu Indabawa; Administrative Secretary, Sunday Omobo.
In a statement on Tuesday, Bature, also said members of the committee include Capt. Idris I. Wada (rtd); Chief Osita Chidoka; Rt. Hon. Binta Bello; Chief Mrs. Alh. Mutiat Adedoja; Rt. Hon. Austin Opara; Prof. Aisha Madawaki; Mrs. Ayotunde George-Ologun; Chief Mrs. Chidiebelu Mofus, and H.E. Fidelis Tapgun.
The statement read, “The National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, Pursuant to the PDP’s Electoral Guidelines, PART VI Paragraph 14, has approved the nomination of the following party stakeholders to serve on the vice presidential candidate screening committee for the purpose of the screening/verifying the nominated vice presidential candidate of our party.
“The screening exercise will be at the National Working Committee Hall, Wadata Plaza, Abuja FCT, on Thursday, June 16, 2022. Time is 10am prompt.”
A PDP chieftain in Rivers State, Sydney Gbara said the party’s constitution should be considered at all times.
Gbara, in an interview with one of our correspondent said the people of the South should not be excited or jostle for the position of a running mate.
He said, “Well, in the first place, if we want to face equity in all fairness as to how the rulership of this country should go as it is recommended by the constitution of the PDP, the construction recognizes zoning.netween the North and the South.
“So, it is only natural that this time around since the North’ has rules for eight good years under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, power would have naturally gone to the South.
“But going by the situation we have found ourselves, we the people of the South-South should not be too excited by jostling for the position of the Vice President, knowing full well that ordinarily it is supposed to be our turn now to take up the presidential slot.”
But a political analyst, Dr Busari Dauda said the inability of any party to agree on its running mate portended danger to the party and the nation.
He said, “I think this has an implication not only on the candidate but the polity if the committee and leaders are not on the same page in deciding who the running mate will be.”
Another analyst, Olaseni Shalom said, “A presidential candidate needs a Vice President he can trust as long as the party has their contribution. This should be left to the candidate to decide first if he needs someone he can trust, someone that complement him.”
Dr Pius Akhimien of English Department, Lagos State University, advised the PDP. He stated, ‘‘The PDP has to consider the geopolitical zone of the running mate, religious belief. If I were to advise the PDP, I will suggest it allows the running mate come from the South, who must be a Christian.’’