Just recently, President Muhammadu Buhari again spoke from the heart about the unity of the Nigerian nation. It is therefore imperative to urge him to take one more step in the timely sermon and condemn the adoption of a Muslim-Muslim ticket by his party, as it is a direct attack on the notion of Nigeria’s unity and togetherness.

There is no compelling logic or sufficient rhetoric, political swag or harassment to justify the adoption of a presidential ticket of the same faith in Nigeria today. And since it is the ruling party that is leading this potential path of destruction, the President of the Federal Republic and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces is the one who must stop it.

For the sake of national unity and justice, it is high time President Buhari called his party, the APC and the party’s presidential candidate to order. Not only through his famous body language, but also through decisive words and actions. Anyone who is not concerned with the deception that the idea is of the same creed, nor fooled by the egoism of madness, would easily understand why it is untenable.

Despite the unfair criticism of an Islamist agenda that he faced during most of his first term in office, President Buhari is indeed an honest leader with a heart for a united country. Judging by his antecedents, he has shown himself to be an honest and transparent leader who is not divisive, at least in the way he has managed the issuance of a balanced presidential ticket five times.

Every time he has run in presidential elections, Buhari has shown that he is an inclusive leader. As a northern Muslim, he always chose southern Christians as running mates.

In 2003, on the podium of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), he chose a former Senate president, the late Chuba Okadigbo, as his running mate. Four years later, he accepted chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, a Christian from the same geopolitical zone as Okadigbo, as a running mate.

Again, in 2011, when he lost to the late Umaru Yar ‘Adua, President Buhari chose a Christian and pastor, Tunde Bakare of the Southwest, as his running mate. When in 2015, when he won the election against Goodluck Jonathan, Buhari’s choice of Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), as vice presidential candidate, he not only calmed the frayed nerves, but proved once again that Buhari was a principled leader, who remained steadfast in his conviction of fairness, balance and competence in the presidency. It was arguably one of the many pranksters for the APC to snatch victory in the presidential election in both 2015 and 2019.

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The last and only time a political party fielded a presidential and vice presidential candidate of the same faith/religion in a Democratic dispensation was 30 years ago, precisely in the June 12, 1993 presidential election, which was won by the late philanthropist Chief MKO Abiola.

There is a lot of history behind this. Tired of decades of military dictatorship, Nigerians were also fed up with the pranks of the then military head of state, General Ibrahim Babangida, who continued to ban political parties and cancel democratic procedures as he pleased.

But things are very different now. Since then, Nigeria has enjoyed 23 years of uninterrupted democracy since 1999. Then as presidential flag bearer of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1993, Abiola was also a much loved and respected politician by all parts of the country. His choice of Babagana Kingibe, a fellow Muslim, as his running mate in 1993 was welcomed by Christians and Muslims alike in the six geopolitical zones.

This was because the country was not as divided and polarized along political, ethnic and religious lines as it sadly is today. These fears could be exacerbated with the callous decision of the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential standard-bearer Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to choose a fellow Muslim: the former governor of Borno state, Kashim Shettima, as his running extent.

While the same religion ticket may not be legally wrong, it is morally wrong at a time like this in a multi-ethnic and religiously diverse society like Nigeria, which also struggles with major security issues in every region.

According to a 2018 estimate in the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) World Factbook, Nigeria’s Christian-Muslim population is evenly distributed. Simply put, Tinubu and the APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket is blatantly the bluff of about half of the Nigerian population who are Christian, in both the southern and northern parts of the country.

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With this figure, it is safe to assume that the ruling party is at risk of losing the 2023 presidential election because of this thorny issue, especially as the candidates from the main opposition party, PDP and Labor Party, among others, have chosen running mates from among others. other religion.

Indeed, Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria clearly stated the need to promote fairness, justice and national unity in the composition of the Federal Government. A Muslim-Muslim ticket goes against this spirit.

There is no moral or constitutional justification for a Muslim-Muslim ticket, not by the ruling APC or any other political party.

Nor does a Muslim-Muslim ticket support the president’s vision of national unity, fairness and tolerance across religious, political and ethnic lines. The president’s silence or aloofness on the matter does not speak well to him and raises more questions than answers about his place in Nigeria’s history.

President Buhari should realize that the APC Muslim-Muslim ticket would be a great eternal stain on his legacy if he left office without addressing this issue clearly and sternly with Tinubu and his party.

Nigerians would recall that he had failed to speak out against the same religious ticket of his party, even though he had resisted it when his personal prospects were at stake. It is no longer President Buhari’s personal prospects that are at stake, it is the prospects for a unity nation that are being jeopardized. Shouldn’t the president stand up to be counted on the side of doing everything humanly possible to preserve our unity as one nation under God?

As has already been shown, the competency argument for choosing a Muslim running mate for a Muslim candidate does not hold. It is inconceivable that Tinubu and his camp would have Nigerians believe that they cannot find a credible Christian politician from the north as his vice presidential candidate.

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What this is trying to achieve, even if unconsciously, is the relegation of Christians to second-class citizens in their own country. If we as a people stand by and let political opportunity prevail, and our president refuses to act, then we have only succeeded in furthering a fault line towards a real and present danger of a new apartheid based on religion.

Why should one man’s political desperation be allowed to have dire consequences that sooner or later would explode in everyone’s face? For the sake of the future of more than 200 million Nigerians, the country’s unity must not be sacrificed on the altar of Tinubu’s lifelong ambition and APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket. Mr. President, now is the time to act.

  • Mr Ogah Columba wrote from Abuja


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