Is Tinubu/ Shettima ticket a threat to Christians?
I am very fond of Dr. Babachir Lawal and I have great respect and affection for him but I beg to differ with him on this issue. What he has said is simply not true and those that espouse and share the views that he has expressed are playing a dangerous and divisive game. Unlike him I do not see a Muslim/Muslim ticket but rather a Tinubu/Shettima ticket. They are both human beings and Nigerians before being Muslims. We should at least accord them that consideration and respect.
I believe that one of the most mischevous, cruel, illogical and uncharitable things we can do is to measure a man’s worth by his religious faith alone and refuse to see anything in him other than that. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima, his running mate, may be Muslims but their faith does not define them. What defines them is their character, vision and ability to perform well in office and their commitment to a united, peaceful, fair, just, equitable and prosperous Nigeria. Another thing that defines them, though to a lesser extent, is their ethnic nationality and where they come from in the country.
In this case one is a Yoruba (from the South Western zone) whilst the other is a Kanuri (from the North Eastern zone), both proud and noble ethnic groups with a rich, civilised and ancient cultural and historical heritage and empire which go back thousands of years and neither of which was EVER conquered, subjugated or occupied by any other African ethnic nationality or power in their entire history. These are the things that are relevant and that define each of these two men and not their faith.
In any case, how can conceding the position of the Vice President which, with all due respect has limited powers, to a Muslim constitute a threat to our great and mighty Christian faith and how can it overwhelm the wishes and aspirations of the 110 million Christians in our country? This seems to me to be far-fetched and absurd.
It is true that for many years the practice has been to balance the ticket and pair Christians and Muslims when it comes to leadership positions and governance in this country in order to make adherents of both faiths feel secure. Yet other than the comforting optics one wonders just how much security such an arrangement really afforded adherents of both faiths?
Did it stop Boko Haram and ISWAP from killing both Christians and Muslims respectively? Did it stop Christian mobs and militias in the North killing Muslims over the years? Did it stop Muslim mobs and militias slaughtering Christians in the North? Did it stop Christian secessionist, in the guise of unknown gunmen, targetting and murdering both Christians and Muslims in the East?
Did it save the life of the young lady Deborah in Sokoto when she was hacked to pieces and burnt alive or that of the young man Gideon Akaluka when he was beheaded in Kano? We have tried this balancing formula for many years and it really does not seem to have provided the intended results or worked too well.
Consider the plight of Northern Christians over the last 22 years even though we have had two Christian Presidents over that period of time and a Christian Vice President who happens to be a Pastor over the last seven.
Again consider the plight of Muslims in the core North and the Middle Belt over the same period of time even though we have had two Muslim Presidents and two Muslim Vice Presidents.
When barbaric acts and unspeakable atrocities are committed against defenceless civilian populations, including women and children and when people are targetted for their faith or ethnicity without consequence, surely it is a failure of leadership and nothing to do with the religious faith of the President or his Vice.
Given that, perhaps it is time to try something new and provide a more innovative approach. Perhaps it is time for us to start focusing on factors other than faith when it comes to electing our leaders.
Besides which, from an intellectual perspective, when it comes to matters of leadership and national issues and practices nothing is cast in iron and nothing is static: we are meant to evolve. Leaders ought to be elected on the basis of their quality and competence coupled with their ability to attract and deliver as many votes as possible and not their faith.
Anything less than that is an emotional rather than a rational approach. Today we have a Muslim/Muslim ticket vying for power at the center and tomorrow, by God’s grace, we shall have a Christian/Christian one.
That is progress and let me remind the skeptics that this has just been achieved in Osun state, where a Christian/Christian ticket won the Governorship election and it happened in Kaduna state a few years ago when a Muslim/Muslim ticket did the same.
In either case the Heavens did not fall. Thankfully there are Christians all over this country from both the North and the South who are in the APC and who do not share Lawal’s view. There are also millions of Christians who are not affiliated to any political party all over the country that disagree with him.
The truth is that it would serve our interests better as Christians to negotiate for and insist on key positions in the incoming Government of Bola Tinubu for members of our faith in return for our votes rather than continuously whining and lamenting, threatening fire and thunder, labelling him as an anti-Christ, indulging in mass hysteria, delusion and fear-mongering and acting as if Christianity would face an existential threat under his watch.
Can a deal really be negotiated and cut? Is this doable? In my view it most certainly is and this is the time to start such talks and open such discussions and negotiations rather than playing to the public gallery and grandstanding.
To be continued tomorrow
Fani-Kayode is a former Minister of Aviation.