Thursday, 21st September 2023

More chieftains resign in protest over APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket

By Adamu Abuh, Sodiq Omolaoye (Abuja), Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna), Ann Godwin (Port Harcourt), Rauf Oyewole (Bauchi) and Mansur Aramide (Gombe)
13 July 2022   |   4:25 am
The cacophony of voices, for and against, the all-Muslim ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) continued to heat up the polity yesterday ahead of September 28, when presidential campaigns are expected to begin, officially for the 2023 general elections.

Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP

• Amaechi’s ally, Princewill, Nollywood actor, Okonkwo, Bwala dump ruling party
• Omokri: Those who tried Muslim-Muslim ticket never became president
• We cannot campaign for Muslim-Muslim ticket in our constituencies–Northern APC Christian leaders
• Garba dumps YPP, returns to APC to campaign for Muslim-Muslim ticket
• PDP’s killing of zoning dangerous than Muslim-Muslim ticket, says Nabena
• Gombe governor backs Tinubu, says ticket best for APC

The cacophony of voices, for and against, the all-Muslim ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) continued to heat up the polity yesterday ahead of September 28, when presidential campaigns are expected to begin, officially for the 2023 general elections.

Expectedly, the Muslim-Muslim ticket has attracted a barrage of outcry, leading to the exit of key members from the APC.

In sharp opposition to the selection of former governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima, as running mate to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a former governorship candidate of the party in Rivers State and close ally of the immediate past Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Prince Tonye Princewill, yesterday, dumped the party, to compound the woes that have befallen the party in Rivers, which has seen more chieftains continue to exit.

Tonye, in his resignation letter addressed to the Chairman of APC, Ward 3 (Royal Ward) in Buguma city of Asari Toru Council, said he could not defend the decision of his party to field a Muslim-Muslim ticket against public outcry by well-meaning Nigerians.

“I can’t argue for equity in my state and defend inequity in my country,” Tonye said, adding that under such a situation that the country finds itself presently, he could not continue to remain in a party that is “totally insensitive”, adding that even if APC wins next year’s election, it “will prove bad for good governance.”

This is coming a day after another chieftain of the party, Daniel Bwala, joined the league of members who announced their resignation after the party’s presidential candidate, Tinubu, announced his running mate.

Bwala, in a post on his Twitter account on Monday, noted that he is dumping the ruling party on principles and convictions that he holds dear.

He further stated that at this point, “what Nigeria needs is for us to work towards uniting the country.”

Also, the lawmaker representing Adamawa North Senatorial District, Ishaku Abbo, who described Tinubu’s decision to pick a Muslim as his running mate as irresponsible, resigned his membership of a Tinubu support group.

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 Christian leaders is extremely irresponsible. Buhari fought a civil war and understands the consequences of a divided nation. When Tinubu wanted to be VP in 2015, Buhari said no because he understood the importance of unity.”

Yesterday, popular Nollywood actor, Kenneth Okonkwo, also resigned his membership of APC, after condemning Tinubu’s decision and asking God to “deliver the country from the hands of power grabbers who elevate the quest for power above the pursuit of purpose.”

He stated that APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket would permanently destroy the political viability of Christians in the North if allowed to stand. He added that he resigned his membership in the interest of equity, justice, fairness and peaceful co-existence among Nigerians.

He said: “These ideals are now alien to the APC, with their unfortunate decision to paint our Muslim brothers in lousy light by insinuating that the Muslims in Nigeria will not accept or vote for a Northern Christian as Vice-President to pair with a Southern Muslim. If Muslims could vote voluntarily for Southern Christian presidents, it is a fallacy to insinuate that they cannot accept Northern Christian Vice-President.”

RENO Omokri, a former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and staunch critic of the APC, has said those who had tried to be Nigeria’s leader on a Muslim-Muslim ticket never achieved it. He, then, said Tinubu’s case would not be an exception, stating that those who tried it in the past either lost or were never sworn in.

Omokri said this on his verified Twitter handle @renoomokri on Tuesday. He tweeted: “Nobody should be too worried about the Tinubu Muslim-Muslim ticket. Everyone who has tried it in Nigeria has either lost or was never sworn in. Everybody. No exception. Yesterday and today are pregnant with what will happen to Tinubu. Nigeria has left that bus-stop!”

He added that Nigeria, currently, is too divided to operate on same religion ticket, with an assertion that the country needs balance and peace.

“Nigeria is too divided for a same religion ticket. It is just like a same sex marriage. As a nation, we are not ready for both same sex marriages and same religion political marriages. Nigeria needs peace. Nigeria needs balance!”

APC Christian political leaders in the 19 Northern states have threatened to withdraw their support for the party during the general elections if the Muslim-Muslim ticket is not dropped.

In a statement made available to journalists in Kaduna and signed by three of the leaders, Prof. Doknan Sheni, Dr. Ishaya Bauka and Prof. Saudi Ibrahim, “the meeting noted with concern the resignation of some high profile Christians from the APC across the country as a consequence, with more to follow unless concerted efforts are made to redeem our party from hate mongers and those who seek to exploit religion to perpetuate their self-interests as opposed to national interest.

“After extensive deliberations, the meeting came to the conclusion that as Christians within the APC, we cannot in all fairness to our consciences and faith go to our various constituencies to campaign for a Muslim-Muslim ticket. Nigeria is a multi-religious and a constitutional democracy, not a
theocracy with religion as a major national fault line, which cannot be whimsically manipulated without dire political consequences on our peaceful co-existence as a people.

“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 it good for the health of our nation in 2023? That the rejection of a Muslim – Muslim ticket by Christians would undermine the electoral fortunes of the APC and its candidates across all constituencies where Christians enjoy numerical advantage. By so doing APC has recklessly thrown its Christian candidates under the bus.”

They, however, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in correcting the issues before it destroys the party.

HOWEVER, popular businessman and politician, Adamu Garba, has returned to the APC. Garba, who made headlines weeks ago after he defected to the Young Progressives Party (YPP) over the N100 million nomination form, announced yesterday that he has ‘re-decamped’ to the ruling party.

He noted that he would do more harm to Nigeria if he does not support the combination of a great strategist and a great tactician on a single ticket.

The former presidential aspirant expressed his support for the presidential ticket of Tinubu and Shettima.

He also defended the Muslim-Muslim ticket, saying: “It’s not all together about not having a competent Christian in the North, there are, many of them indeed. But how many of those competent ones are able to build any political capital beyond their immediate environment? Politics is very practical, it’s not about whims.”

ALSO in defence of the party, a former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of APC, Mr. Yekini Nabena, argued that the decision by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to pick its presidential candidate from the North is more harmful to the unity of Nigeria when compared to the Muslim-Muslim ticket of APC.

GOVERNOR Muhammadu Yahaya of Gombe State has described Tinubu’s choice of Shettima as a masterstroke. A statement by the governor’s Director General (press affairs), Ismaila Misilli, noted: “As a committed and loyal party man, Shettima is a great asset to the ruling party and will add immeasurable value to the APC presidential ticket.

“Asiwaju will not have made a better choice. The former Borno governor is a highly cerebral, eloquent, competent, courageous and cosmopolitan leader who has succeeded in building bridges, reputation and friendships across the country; and I believe he has the capacity, acumen and political sagacity to deputise the Jagaban,” he added.