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2023: Will Tinubu Risk a Muslim/Muslim Ticket?

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By Eric Elezuo
When on Monday, June 6, 2022, the former governor of Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, won the ticket to fly the flag of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 Presidential Election, the question of will 2023 be the year of Tinubu or the Year of the Yoruba was answered. It proved that a Tinubu, representing the Yoruba race of Nigeria will be on the ballot paper.
Tinubu’s emergence brings to regurgitation the feeling of the last time the presidency berthed at the doorsteps of Yorubaland, which was in 1999, and it stayed till 2007 when President Olusegun Obasanjo relinquished power and handed over to late President Umar Musa Yar’dua. However, the best the Yoruba nation has gone ever since was the vice presidential slot, as presently occupied by Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who lost to Tinubu in the presidential primaries.
But Tinubu’s emergence though against the wish of the south and eastern parts of Nigeria, has since ceased to be news. What is paramount in the minds of the generality of the Nigerian public is the choice of a presidential running mate. Presently, every finger has pointed to Tinubu choosing a Muslim like himself as running mate, an equation that greatly negates the principle of Nigerianism as hitherto practiced in the country. This is to give a sense of belonging to the two most influential religions in Nigeria.
It is never happened that leaders of the same faith occupied the president and vice president positions of the country. In 1979 when the Second Republic took off, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, a Muslim from the north choose, Sir Alex Ekwueme, a Christian from the south. In 1999, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a Christian from the south was president while Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a Muslim from the north was vice president. In 2007, Alhaji Musa Yar’dua, a Muslim from the north settled with Dr Goodluck Jonathan from the south as vice. When Yar’dua died in 2010, and Jonathan became president, he complemented his office with Namadi Sambo as vice president. In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari became president, and chose Osinbajo, a Christian from the south as vice. The trend has been unending, and the country has not experienced same faith presidency.
However, there was an exception, which though never fully materialised in 1993, when the Social Democratic Party (SDP) presidential candidate, Chief Moshood Abiola, a Muslim from the south, chose Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, another Muslim, but from the north as running mate. Both candidates from winning from the few results announced before General Ibrahim Babangida, the then military president, annulled the entire process. The Muslim/Muslim ticket of Abiola and Kingibe was not allowed to come fruition.
Today, the environment that allowed the Muslin/Muslim ticket of Abiola and Kingibe seem not to be at play presently as Nigerians are more awake to the ethnic and religious diversities in the country. Consequently, voices are rising in protest of any form of acquiescence to Muslim/Muslim ticket as that appears the best option available to the APC and its presidential candidate, Tinubu.
Meanwhile, like his counterparts in the PDP, and the Labour party, who had settled for their running mates, with considerations to the geo-political locations and religion, Tinubu, the APC presidential candidate, is still held up in the confusion of who to choose as presidential candidate to replace the place holder, Alhaji Masari, also a Muslim. The permutations coming out of his camp, and the APC family, have noted that there seems to be no suitable Christian candidate to take up the slot.
Shortly after his election as the flag bearer, Tinubu began the search for his running mate with a meeting with northern governors, where observers said he was expected to make a pick his running mate from.

However, Christian politicians have warned against running on a Muslim-Muslim ticket. The fear was raised by a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and directed particularly to the APC flag bearer.

Among the likely persons Tinubu would consider are the Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai and Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje. While these two have shown character in the emergence of Tinubu as the presidential candidate, they may however, not be considered as a result of their religion, which corresponds with the presidential candidate. The choice of any of the two governors, would veritably augur well for the party as they have a firm grip on their states, especially Ganduje, whose state unofficially accounts for the highest number of voters.

But should the APC and Tinubu decide to look the Christian way, which is the ideal thing to do, given the situation, for a running mate, the likes of Simon Lalong of Plateau State, who happens to be the only Christian governor under the APC in the north, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who observers have credited as the ‘most visible functionary in the presidency’, and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, a man touted as replica of discipline, deligence and performance given his pedigree of public service, and his meritorious four years as the number four citizen of the country.

Though seasoned technocrats, who can hold their own any day, observers however, do not reckon with Lalong as a potential vote influencer, more so he is seen as a strong ally of a former presidential aspirant, Chibuike Amaechi, and that may work for or against him as he did not support Tinubu’s emergence. Dogara, on his part, remains the option ever since he returned to the APC from the PDP.

But a source has hinted that the Muslim-Muslim agenda is the preference of the North as they do not see any potential Christian with the charisma to galvanise voters, and guarantee victory for the APC.

Some arguments deduced in favour of a Muslim-Muslim ticket is escapulated in this statement from a northern stakeholder:

“There’s no Christian who can match Kashim Shettima in the entire North. Dogara can’t win more than Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area in Bauchi State. The SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, is neither Hausa nor Fulani and can’t win in multi-ethnic Adamawa State.

“Lalong is neither Hausa nor Fulani stock, so the majority Hausa Fulani may not accept him. Let’s look at the turn of events, something tells me it will be a Muslim/ Muslim ticket.

Tinubu, since 2007 when he left office as the Governor of Lagos State, has remained unlike many of his contemporaries, in the corridors of power. Though he has not held any political position since then, but he has remained a powerful force to reckon with, especially in the Southwest region, with extra special emphasis to his immediate jurisdiction, Lagos.
Tinubu, many has reasoned, has a hand in the electoral victory or political appointment of many south-westerners; many of the political elites have stood on his shoulders to stardom, that is why he is touted as one of the deftest political leaders today in Nigeria.
Those in the know say that it was his political sagacity that helped to ensure that his former party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) formed an alliance with the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and other members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which led to the birth of the current ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Tinubu is one of the founders of the APC, and a force behind the ousting of a sitting president in 2015, and the installation of Buhari. He is reputed to have practically seen all the colours and intrigues of political maneuvers, and one wonders why it is still difficult choosing a running mate suitable to balance the geo-political equation of Nigeria..

He served as governor of Lagos State after the return of civil rule in 1999 following the death of General Sani Abacha in 1998. He ruled Lagos for two terms of eight years, establishing political and infrastructural landmarks that have stood the test of time. In fact, Lagos, as a state, is striving and functioning with the blue print he created.

Prior to becoming the Governor of Lagos in 1999, Tinubu, who celebrated his 70th birthday March 29, 2022, had a short spell in the National Assembly as Senator representing Lagos West before the Abacha junta took over the reins of power in November, 1993. He subsequently went into exile from where he joined in the fight for the restoration of the June 12, 1993 mandate of Chief Moshood Abiola.

He is said to be highly experienced in political matters, and can rightly be addressed as a political juggernaut. Most stakeholders believe like Tinubu himself that it is his turn to be president as compensation for having worked very hard to bring about the APC as a party and the Buhari presidency.

But, like he is fit and qualified, the same way he has backlogs that will definitely drag him back, and may eventually cost him the opportunity and the presidency, especially if he risks the controversial Muslim/Muslim ticket.

But according to the President of the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF), Alhaji Yerima Shettima, Muslim/Muslim ticket is inevitable for the APC under the current circumstance though he agreed that Muslim-Muslim ticket is not ideal.

He noted that “As it is today, considering the numerical strength of Muslim North, it will amount to a big risk and gamble for Tinubu to pick a non-Muslim from the North as his running mate. It is not because it is what I want but nobody can afford to gamble with a non-Muslim and expect a typical Northern Muslim to support that. It will be difficult, not because some of us want it that way, but that is the reality. I am sure if the APC had their way, they could have put a Christian from the North but considering the fact that there is mutual suspicion between Muslims and Christians in the North, it will be difficult for that to happen.”

Meanwhile, groups are rising in protest of the Muslim/Muslim ticket. The National Coalition for Democracy Peace and Unity (NCDPU) is one of the groups that has the idea of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Candidate and former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu picking a Muslim as running mate .

According to the group ,there was no need for the palpable tension caused by the Muslim-Muslim ticket rumours at this critical period. It also urged Tinubu to avoid being put under by few selfish persons to pick a running Mate against the wish of Nigerians .

The group stated this in a Communique issued at the end on a one-day political summit held on Sunday at Epitome Hotel, Barnawa, Kaduna State, with the theme “The 2023 Presidential Elections; Need for a United and Peaceful Nigeria”. They resolved to work with only political parties and candidates with considerations for the diversity and regional interests of Nigeria.

The Communique jointly signed by the National Coordinator and Secretary; Comrade Ibrahim Ringim and Comrade Peter Emmanuel further reads: “As concerned democrats, we are deeply worried about the potential threats and political crisis that would be created if the ruling party resolved to consider a Muslim-Muslim ticket during the forthcoming 2023 Presidential elections.

“The need for the political summit was informed by the palpable tension stirred up by regional agitations and the impending crisis the idea of Muslim-Muslim ticket could cause. Thus, we are asking all political parties to strike a balance along religious and ethnic for a united and peaceful Coexistence.”

Other political parties have toed this line except the APC and its flag bearer, Tinubu. The combination may likely work against him if he risk the attempt.

“If APC goes otherwise, it will not only discourage Christians in the party and electorate that are willing to vote the party during the election, but might also create a disharmony that will force them to vote other parties with balanced candidates.

“At this critical moment where the corporate existence of Nigeria is threatened, the emphasis on the unity and progress should be paramount importance to all political parties and Presidential Candidate,” the group insisted.

Opposition to the Muslim/Muslim ticket intention of the APC and Tinubu is not only from the south and Christians, but also from Muslims in the north. A group, the Northern Nigeria’s Front for Equity and Good Governance, has also rejected the proposed Muslim/Muslim ticket as running mate to the All Progressives Congress’ presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

The Leader  of the Group, Zakariya Abdul’aziz, while addressing a press conference in Kaduna, noted that religion had never been the voting pattern of the North.

According to him, the North has always participated in national politics as a diverse but united entity with common goals, adding that the voting pattern had been nationalistic without regard to “sectional, ethnic and religious considerations.”.

He explained that it was disturbing that “some few voices” were  attempting to speak for the North using religion and ethnicity over the choice of political parties’ candidates and their running mates.

Specifically, Abdul’aziz noted that the ongoing debate on Muslim-Muslim tickets was not only divisive but unfortunate, urging Tinubu not to risk the intention.

Again, Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, who is a former special adviser to the late Kaduna State Governor, Ibrahim Yakowa on Islamic Matters and Hajj, Sheik Haliru Maraya, said it was wrong for any Muslim to support a Muslim-Muslim ticket. He said a one faith joint ticket was at variance with the spirit of justice entrenched in Islam, stressing those promoting the Muslim-Muslim ticket do not wish the country well.

“I don’t think there is a Muslim who will support a Christian-Christian presidential ticket. Undoubtedly, the Muslims would cry out for the perpetration of injustice against them. Hence, it is wrong for a Muslim to support a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket as it is at variance with the spirit of justice which the religion of Islam promotes and defends at all times.

“Those promoting the idea of a Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian presidential ticket, in today’s Nigeria, do not wish the country well, especially now that it is divided along religious fault lines. I wonder what the country would be should the various agitations in the land assume

“For a political party to have Muslims as its national chairman, presidential candidate and vice-presidential candidate, such a party is indeed not in a position to say it promotes and defends the spirit of justice, fairness and equity…” the cleric said.

The Nigeria Democracy Defence Watch, on its part, warned that a Muslim/Muslim ticket would adversely affect its fortune. 

Speaking through its National Coordinator and National Secretary, Ahmed Adamu and Adeniji Adegoke, in a letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, the group said the plan would portray Nigeria as an Islamic and sectarian nation.

Again, President of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr. Pogu Bitrus, said anybody contemplating that alternative was not thinking about the sensitivity of Nigerians and the situation at hand. He noted that Nigeria is currently polarised so much that such a move is capable of inflaming the country beyond anybody’s control.

The coming days will revealed the state of mind of Tinubu, who just returned from medical vacation in France, and his party, APC in choosing the presidential running mate.

It is obvious Nigerians do not believe that the scenario that enabled the 1993 situation is no longer at work, and so a Muslim/Muslim ticket  for Tinubu or anyone else may be the beginning of doom for the party.

Time will surely tell.

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Akpabio Commits to Collaboration with Tinubu, Governor Umo Eno

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The President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, has stated his commitment to working closely with Nigeria’s President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and Governor Umo Eno to ensure the delivery of democratic benefits to the people of Akwa Ibom State.

Akpabio stated this in his country home, Ukana, Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom, while briefing his constituents on the journey so far as their representative in the red chamber.

He assured the people of Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District of his commitment to their welfare in appreciation of their total support for him, President Bola Tinubu and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in last year’s election.

The Highpoint of the constituency briefing was the distribution of over 10,000 bags of rice and other essentials for his constituents from the wards, to the local governments.

A statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Jackson Udom, quoted Akpabio as saying, “I am here once again, to thank you for standing by me, our President and the party, before, during and even after last year’s elections. I have come to say thank you and also bring Renewed Hope to you all.

“As the President is doing his own, the Senate President is also doing his bit and being complemented by the state governor, Akwa Ibom would be the better for it. We have finished elections and politics, we are now into governance. The governor of the state must touch you, because he is the governor of all the people in the state irrespective of political affiliation.

” As I am touching you now from the political angle, I will also touch the state without any political party affiliation. Most of the projects we are putting in place would be used by people resident in the state. Relax, things are getting better.”

The former Governor of the state, assured his constituents that his current position as the Senate President would be used for the development of the state in collaboration with the President and the Akwa Ibom State Governor.

Hear him: This Senate President is not the one that would be fighting the state government. I will collaborate with , I will collaborate with , to make the state better for us all. We cannot be out of government for a long time. You have to go to a government that carries you along”

Akpabio promised to work for his constituents and Nigeria with all his strength, noting that, “as the President of the Senate, I am for the Southern region and the entire country. I may not come here regularly to tell you what I have been doing for you, but you will be feeling the impact on way or the other. Our unemployed youths would be gainfully employed. I will construct a mini stadium in all the local governments in the district, for our youths to develop their sporting potentials. ”

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Akwa Ibom Government Invests N112 Billion in Road Infrastructure Projects

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…DAKKADA OIL PALM FACTORY COMMENCES MILLING SOON

“Since May 2023, Akwa Ibom State Government Invests N112 Billion in Road Infrastructure”

Commissioner for Works and Fire Service, Prof. Eno Ibanga disclosed this when he presented a breakdown at the State Executive Council meeting in Uyo.

He revealed that 39 new road projects have been undertaken with N78.77 billion released to fund them, while old projects have been funded to the tune of over N30 Billion, with an additional N12 Billion recently released by the Governor.

Details of the Exco meeting were made public by the Commissioner for Information, Ini Ememobong.

The Executive Council also approved the increment of pension for pensioners who retired before 2012, effective April 2024.

Following the ongoing harvesting of fruits, milling will soon commence at the Dakkada Global Oil Palms.

The Managing Director of the Akwa Ibom Investment Corporation, Pastor Imoabasi Jacob announced this during his presentation at the State Executive Council meeting presided over by Governor Umo Eno.

Two projects executed through the Direct Labour Agency have been completed with 19 other ones ongoing.

The Director of Operations of the Agency, presented a status update on the projects under their supervision, also disclosed that 31 of the 100 initial ARISE Compassionate Homes will be completed and presented soon.

The Council was also briefed on the progress at Ibom LED, where 800 people have been trained and N400m has been approved to fund the grant of N500,000 to each of the participants, which will soon be done.

The Governor charged all the Executive Council members to ensure that all the projects and programmes under their supervision are people-centric from ideation to execution. He advised that project monitoring should be ramped up to ensure quick completion.

Major Highlights of the meeting are as follows:

√Status update on Food sufficiency received; proposal on increased cocoa, rice production & Ibom Model Farm submitted by HC for Agriculture & Rural Development

√Presentation of proposal by MD, AKICORP on Ibom Towers, FalconNext, Landmark Beach Resort.

√Dakkada Global Oil Palms Ltd ready to commence milling of ongoing harvested fruits

√Confirmation of N400m disbursed at N500,000 each to 800 IBOM-LED trainees in two batches

√Briefing by HC Works & Fire Service on N112 billion disbursed by the Governor for road infrastructure since May 2023, with 39 new road projects receiving N78.77 billion & N30 Billion for old projects, with additional release of N12 Billion

√Presentation by HC Culture & Tourism on tourism blueprint for proposed development of Tourism hubs at Ikot Abasi, Itu, and Oron

√ Two projects ready, 19 ongoing through Direct Labour Agency on 1 Project per Local Government Area; 31 ARISE Compassionate Homes nearly completed

√Approval for increment of pension for pensioners who retired before 2012, effective April 2024.

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Oyo Prince Encourages Peace and Continued Charitable Acts Among Muslims

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Prince Afeez Siyanbola Oladigbolu, the grandson of the 40th Alaafin of Oyo and the youngest contender for the Alaafin throne, is calling on Muslims in Oyo State and across Nigeria to uphold peace and carry forward the spirit of sacrifice and kindness observed during Ramadan.

Prince Oladigbolu made the call in his Eid-El- Fitri message where he bemoaned the state of affairs in Oyo Kingdom.

According to him “We don’t have an Alaafin and we also currently do not have a Chief Imam. The two vacuums remain unfilled due to the passage of HRM Oba Lamidi Adeyemi and late Mashood Adebayo Ajokidero and this requires urgent attention because of the leadership gap it has caused in Oyo.

“The absence of the Alaafin has led to a state of stagnancy since Oba Adeyemi joined his ancestors in April 2022, while our spiritual growth has not been at its highest without a Chief Imam”

The young prince challenged Muslim leaders and communities to be fervent in unstoppable prayers for Almighty Allah’s intervention in the affairs of Oyo town, the State and Nigeria.

He also used the opportunity to urge the youths to be calm, stay away from violence and embrace hard work.

In his words ” Violence leads to crime , while crime leads to jail”

He further also advising youths to abstain from being used against the government, noting that nobody or group of people have the capacity to fight the government at any level.

” If the political behaviour of any candidate is not going down well with you, wait for the next election and vote such a candidate out. That is the civil way to react.

” Violence, insults, and most especially curses on our leaders are not options we should explore and will not change anything. Let’s pray for them so that they can always fulfil their campaign promises.

The former Mariner and real estate Entrepreneur also extended some assistance to senior citizens to commemorate the season.

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