The decision of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), to pick Kashim Shettima, a former governor of Borno State, as his running mate, has continued to elicit controversy in various corners of Nigeria.
There has been a lot of rage over the development. Nigerians are reacting as if the elections have been won and lost already, or if there was only one political party that determines the choice of all citizens.
While those who may have invested heavily in the Tinubu presidency project, who also may be having expectations for something concrete in return for their efforts and loyalty may be nursing the pain of personal loss, many other Nigerians are complaining that the APC has taken them for a ride.
But some rational observers believe that it is a waste of time for a nation to boil over the internal affairs of a political party. They advise those who are not comfortable with the party’s decision to make use of the ballot box to vent their anger rather than heating up the polity.
They also suggest that anybody in the broom party that is not comfortable with the development can simply take a walk and move to other parties as there are currently about 18 registered political parties recognised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Babachir Lawal, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), is a sad man right now.
He seems to be angry over the turn of events in the party, particularly Tinubu’s decision to play Muslim-Muslim card when there are vibrant and influential Christian politicians in the North who are members of the party, from the pool of which he should have picked a running mate
Lawal was among the names that were bandied as possible running mate of Tinubu. So, it would appear that his anger could be located from that quarter.
The former SGF was a staunch supporter of Tinubu’s presidential ambition. He did not hide his commitment towards the realisation of that ambition.
On April 30, 2022, he, with James Faleke, a member, House of Representatives representing Ikeja Federal constituency, led thousands of members of the Tinubu Support Groups (TSG) to pick a N100 million presidential Expression of Interest and Nomination forms for Tinubu.
On May 12, 2022, Lawal also joined Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos State, to submit the presidential nomination form. The duo led other APC supporters to submit the form at the International Conference Centre in Abuja.
Since the purchase and submission of the forms, up to the presidential primary of the party where Tinubu emerged victorious, Babachir Lawal has been drumming up support for the Jagaban’s eventual victory in the election slated for February 25, 2023.
But things seem to have changed now, as Lawal, a Christian from Adamawa, blamed Tinubu’s new friends, particularly, Abdullahi Ganduje, Kano State governor, for selling the Muslim-Muslim ticket to Tinubu on the falsehood that without it, he would not win the presidential election.
He also said that Ganduje’s real motive was the Islamisation of Nigeria, for which he has already allegedly started a website dedicated to the conversion of Christians to Islam.
He said: “True, based on the advice of his new friends, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has made his choice. And I am sure he thinks he is ready for the outcome of that choice. He has chosen to bring religion to the front burner of Nigerian politics. And being a Muslim, he has chosen to take sides with his own religion. For all he cares, Christians can go to blazes with their votes.
“But he must also be told that there will be consequences for this choice. Some of them are that Christians all over the country will revolt against the APC to put the chances of his election in serious jeopardy. It will also put the election of all Christians standing for elections in Christian-dominated areas in jeopardy. This could result in APC being a minority party in both the National and State Houses of Assembly.”
He wondered: “Now tell me which Christian will vote for APC with the following contraption: Moslem Presidential Candidate (Lagos), Moslem Vice Presidential Candidate (Borno), Moslem National Chairman (Nasarawa), Moslem Deputy National Chairman (Borno), Moslem President (Katsina); Moslem Senate President (Yobe); Moslem Speaker (Lagos); Moslem Deputy Speaker (Plateau) e.t.c. APC the great! Wu na de try woh.”
Babachir Lawal of the “who is the Presidency?” fame expressed fears that what Tinubu, by extension APC, has done amounted to that period in Israel when the people decided to jettison their affiliation with Davidic linage.
“And when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David.” So Israel went to their tents” (1 Kings 12:16).
According to Lawal, “I would love for Bola to be our next President. But I am afraid a Moslem-Moslem ticket will be ‘Dead on Arrival.’ And the arrival date according to INEC’s election timetable is 25th February 2023. This ticket will drag down the whole APC members to the pit. We all should reject it.”
Apart from Lawal, there has been a groundswell of opposition to the development across the country. But,
Matthew Hassan Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, did not see why there should be Much Ado about the decision of a party.
Kukah said that every political party was free to take a decision that it thinks that could work for it.
In a statement he personally signed Monday, the cleric said Tinubu’s decision to pick Shettima as his running mate should not be a thing to worry about.
“This is what you call team selection and everybody will choose depending on what they think will give them a fair chance. So, people will take responsibility for the choices they have made. For me, it is not something to lose sleep over.
“If people feel unhappy with the kind of choices that have been made, that is why we are democrats; you can’t force it. We outsiders cannot force a choice of any candidate,” he said.
According to him, “It is now left for you to look at the choices that have been made. And there is no guarantee that all Christians will vote for Christians and all Muslims will vote for Muslims.”
Adolf Oke, a political analyst, said it was unfortunate that Nigerians were reacting as if the APC was the only party in the country.
“It is annoying to me that some people are whinning as if APC is the only party in Nigeria. In fact, if I were the only Nigerian, the party should not even be on the ballot in 2023 because of the pain it has inflicted on Nigerians. Now, if it decides on what to do which is their internal arrangement and business, why must Nigerians behave as if election has been won and lost? I don’t get it. What I hear is unnecessary noisemaking if you ask me. Nigerians should move on and wait for the party in the morning of election; that should be the wisest thing to do in a democracy,” Oke said.