*‘It’s a threat to fragile peace, unity of Nigeria’
*Babachir: Nigerians conscious of ethno-religious factors in politics
*El-rufai: Competence vital for running mate, not religion
*Osinbajo promises to support Tinubu
Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha, Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Northern Christian Elders Forum (NOSCEF) yesterday expressed opposition to alleged moves by the presidential candidates of Nigeria’s two leading political party to present Muslim running mates for the 2023 presidential election, cautioning that Christians will reject any political party that fails to heed its warning.
Former vice president Atiku Abubakar, a Muslim holds the presidential flag of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while Bola Tinubu, also a Muslim picked that of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) last Wednesday. The two are now searching for running mates.
CAN and NOSCEF’s caveats are coming on the heels of a similar one by the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, to the APC against a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket, saying Nigerians are still conscious of ethno-religious factors in politics.
But Governor Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna State stressed yesterday that competence should determine his party’s choice of presidential running mate instead of religion.
On the same day, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo declared his readiness to give total support to Tinubu, towards winning the presidential election in 2023.
CAN, in the statement signed by its National Secretary, Joseph Bade Daramola warned the two leading political parties to bury the thought of Christian/Christian or Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket in 2023.
“We want to unequivocally state that it is a threat to the fragile peace and unity of Nigeria,” said CAN.
It urged all political parties to ensure that the balance of both religious practitioners is considered in the choice of running mates for the presidential candidates.
“We do not subscribe to Christian/Christian ticket or Muslim/Muslim ticket. Politicians can talk politics but we have stated our view long before now. Any party that tries same religion ticket will fail.
“This is not 1993. Even when we have joint Muslim/Christian ticket, the church still goes through hell. Only God knows the number of Christians that have been killed in the last seven years with no one apprehended or prosecuted.
“Imagine how bad it will be if we have two Muslims in power? The extant Nigerian Constitution promotes religious balance. So, if any political party wants to try Muslim/Muslim ticket, it’s at its own peril. CAN is only forewarning, but will make a categorical statement in the event our warning is not heeded.
CAN said, “the Presidential running mate of APC presidential flag bearer, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu should be a Christian from the North, Atiku’s running mate should be a Christian from the South while Obi should choose his own among the Muslims from the North”.
“Anything contrary to the above means that the leadership of these political parties do not bother about the unity of this entity called Nigeria. Those who are planning Muslim/Muslim ticket should also find out what was the outcome of MKO Abiola and Kingibe ticket in 1993. If they try Muslim/Muslim ticket this time around, the outcome will be worse because our fault lines are very visible.
“There is no party that has no great, good and patriotic Christians who can preside over the affairs of this nation not to talk of being the Vice President as some mischievous people are trying to say. If merit and competence are used as yardsticks, we have many qualified Christians in all the 774 Local Government Areas of this country,” it said.
CAN said its leadership had tried in vain to get President Muhammadu Buhari to break the monopoly or dominance of the security architecture with people of same faith.
“We are all seeing the outcome now. It is obvious that the Nigeria of today is different from that of 1993. Our politicians should stop flouting the Constitution by respecting the North and South dichotomy and religious factor. To those arguing that people do not care about the religions of their leaders once they are competent and credible, we dare APC to pick its Presidential running mate from the South and PDP pick its own from the North and see what follows.