Muslim–Muslim Ticket: APC Members Among Tinubu’s Detractors, Says NWC Vice-Chair
The National Vice Chairman (North-West) of All Progressives Congress, Mallam Salihu Lukman, says the noise over a perceived Muslim-Muslim ticket is a ploy to distract the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
This is even as the member of the National Working Committee disclosed that he was not surprised to find party members among those demonising Tinubu over fear that he could settle for a Muslim running mate.
Lukman, who expressed his concerns in a statement issued in Abuja on Saturday, noted that he has witnessed a similar scenario played out during the build-up to the presidential primary held at Eagle Square.
“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.
“Given the cheap and reactionary campaign in APC aimed at pushing delegates at the National Convention to copy the PDP by electing a presidential candidate from among Northern leaders, the emergence of Asiwaju Tinubu demonstrated the superiority of the APC in providing level playing field to party members to compete and win internal party contests,” he said.
He projected that given the manner the contest for the presidential primary went, the challenge of uniting APC leaders to defeat all opposition parties, including PDP, will form an important precondition for winning the 2023 elections.
The need to ‘work to ensure PDP does not return to power after 16 years of colossal failure’ was the mantra in Tinubu’s acceptance speech after his victory on Wednesday.
Lukman emphasised that with Asiwaju’s victory, the debate has now shifted to the choice of running mate.
“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 a 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 presidential election. Such a backward national mindset must be changed,” he said.
Lukman warned political leaders to desist from riding on cheap sentiments of religion and ethnicity to opportunistically win elections.
According to him, the 2023 presidential campaigns must not be reduced to the level of ethnic and religious sentiments if Nigeria is to move forward.
“Being a Muslim from the Southern part of the country, the belief among many Nigerians, is that he may not attract the votes of citizens from the dominant Christian Southern parts of the country. And given contemporary challenges of producing a presidential ticket, which should balance both ethnic and religious factors in the country, an Asiwaju Tinubu candidature is more likely to be lopsided to win the votes of dominant Muslim North.
“This perception dominated internal debates in APC leading to the National Convention for the Presidential primary. Some party leaders attempted to manipulate the Convention in favour of the Senate President, Sen. Ahmed Lawan as the so-called consensus candidate. The process of producing the consensus was reduced to some manipulative strategy of invoking the name of President Buhari as the singular source of decision.
“Nigerians must be guided to make choices based on evidence and not just sentiment. As it is today, all opposition to APC is more interested in using challenges facing the country to further divide Nigerians,” he stated.