Muslim/Muslim ticket, hard choice Nigerians may live with, APC NWC member replies CAN

• Says Nigerians must shun opportunistic politicians

Immediate past Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum and sitting national vice Chairman, North-West of the All Progressives Congress, Salihu Lukman, has expressed concern over what he called ethnoreligious consideration colouring the debate on the choice of running mate in the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The national secretariat of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at the weekend cautioned the presidential candidates of the two dominant political parties in the country, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not to be blind to religious consideration in the choice of running mate to their standard-bearers, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Speculation is rife that the APC presidential candidate is under pressure to pick a Northern Muslim amongst serving governors from the North as his running mate.

Lukman in a statement at the weekend, “Issues for APC 2023 Presidential Campaign,” however said making choices based on ethnoreligious considerations could be inimical to finding solutions confronting the nation.

In an allusion to the Christians Association of Nigeria’s demand, Lukman argued that “If Nigeria is to move forward, 2023 Presidential campaigns must not reduce important debates of moving Nigeria forward to sentimental considerations of ethnicity and religion.”

The member of the APC National Working Committee submitted further that “religious and ethnic backgrounds of leaders must be subordinated to experiential attributes of persons being considered for leadership.”

His statement read in part: “Asiwaju Tinubu won the contest indisputably. With his victory, the debate has now shifted to the choice of running mate. As usual, conservative and reactionary ethnoreligious considerations are colouring the debate. Question of Muslim/Muslim ticket, implying that another Muslim from the North will most likely be Asiwaju’s running mate. Leading party members are already becoming strong advocates for or against a so-called Muslim/Muslim ticket.

“This debate is reproducing the old pre-convention reactionary and conservative campaign. If choices of leaders are dictated by ethnoreligious factors, Nigerian politics will continue to be disadvantageous to many sections of the country. For instance, only Christian Southerners and Muslim Northerners will continue to have advantages.

“Most of those trying to use religious arguments to influence the choice of running mate for Asiwaju Tinubu are impliedly arguing that a Christian Northerner can only win the Presidential election if his/her running mate is a Muslim from Southern Nigeria. In the same way, this will be politically disadvantageous, if not impossible for any Christian from the North or Muslim from the South to win the Presidential election. Such a backward national mindset must be changed.

“The challenge facing Nigerian politics is about opening the democratic space. It is not going to be easy, but Nigerians must be challenged to make hard choices. Important as ethnic and religious identities are, addressing challenges facing the country, requires that political leaders are not allowed to ride on cheap sentiments of religion and ethnicity to opportunistically win elections.

“If Nigeria is to move forward, the 2023 Presidential campaigns must not reduce important debates of moving Nigeria forward to sentimental considerations of ethnicity and religion. “If the truth is to be told, both Islam and Christianity, as well as all our ethnic factors have been used in equal measure to hold Nigeria at a standstill. Many so-called religious and ethnic leaders have used and are still using religion and ethnicity to pollute the minds of Nigerians against one another.

“If Nigerian politics is to overcome the adversities of these so-called religious and ethnic leaders, religious and ethnic backgrounds of leaders must be subordinated to experiential attributes of persons being considered for leadership.

“Perhaps, it is important to stress the point that whatever is the final choice of Asiwaju Tinubu and APC leaders with respect to who emerges as the running mate, the 2023 Presidential election will be keenly contested, irrespective of religious and ethnic identity of both Asiwaju Tinubu and whoever the running mate may be. APC leaders must acknowledge the fact that the 2023 elections present another golden opportunity for the APC to re-invent itself.

“With the landmark initiatives of President Buhari’s government in the last seven years, challenges of insecurity are being used by opposition parties, especially PDP, to falsely alleged that APC has failed. The claim is that the APC government has mismanaged the economy, divided Nigerians and created insecurity. Part of the argument is that Nigeria is now the ‘poverty capital of the world’, alleging also that the so-called poor performance of APC-led government of President Buhari contrasts with the so-called ‘achievements’ of sixteen years of PDP between 1999 and 2015. Many PDP leaders and their supporters have even claimed that if PDP failed to win the 2023 election, Nigeria will collapse.

“APC must, as a party, use the 2023 Presidential campaign to effectively counter all these false narratives. Part of what must be done to achieve that is about developing an effective communication strategy, which has been one of the strengths weaknesses of both the APC as a party and as a governing party at federal level. APC’s 2023 Presidential campaign must effectively correct all these false narratives and convincingly confirm to Nigerians that, President Buhari’s APC government has put Nigeria back on the roadmap to national development. APC’s 2023 Presidential campaign must use evidence-based politics to showcase the initiatives of President Buhari-led Federal Government.”

2023: Muslim/Muslim ticket, hard choice Nigerians may live with, APC NWC member replies CAN

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