As controversy continued to trail the emergence of Muslim-Muslim ticket, indications have emerged that the presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has begun reaching out to Christian stakeholders across the nation, particularly in the North.
Tinubu had, last Sunday, named a former governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima, as his running mate.
Expectedly, controversy greeted Shettima’s choice as some northern governors and other stakeholders in the party expressed reservations.
Also, many prominent Nigerians and groups, including the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, faulted the selection of Shettima as Tinubu’s running mate, warning the APC against having a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
On Friday, a mammoth crowd of Christians from the 19 northern states stormed the State House, Abuja to protest against the decision.
The demonstrators presented a protest letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, saying “these are not the best times for Christians in the APC and Nigeria in general.”
The leader of the group, Moses Adams, who read the text of the letter before journalists, said: “Our sensibilities have been insulted by the ambition of a select few that have elected to throw caution into the wind.”
Concerns over the APC Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket have led to mass resignations of members from the party. As of the last count, no fewer than 10 APC members have dumped the party to register their displeasure over the same faith pairing.
Those who have left include a legal practitioner, Daniel Bwala; a member of Tinubu Support Group and senator representing Adamawa North, Elisha Abbo; former military governor of Abia State, Air Vice Marshal Frank Ajobena (retd.); and a veteran Nollywood actor, Kenneth Okonkwo.
Others are some strong supporters and allies of the former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, such as Prince Tonye Princewill, former Commissioner for Information and Communications in Rivers State, Ibim Semenitari, Dawari George, Marvin Yobana, Nkemka Amadi and Robinson Elechi.
To stem the mass exodus from the party, assuage aggrieved members and douse the religious tension in the country, some influential stakeholders of the APC were said to have launched into moves, last week, to cede the leadership of the 10th National Assembly to Christians.
The moves, Sunday Vanguard gathered, were part of a power-sharing arrangement being proposed by the stakeholders to forge a united front ahead of the February presidential election.
“What has slowed down some of our actions is the Osun election. Like others, the state is very important to us and we needed to concentrate on ensuring victory in Osun before proceeding with other activities”, said an APC official who pleaded anonymity.
“However, I can tell you that some party leaders are already thinking of ways to placate the Christian community. One of such is ceding the leadership of the National Assembly to Christians. Right now, we have a Muslim as president, the National Assembly has Muslims as both Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Judiciary arm is also headed by a Muslim.
“So, the thinking among some stakeholders is for us to have Christians head the National Assembly. Some are also proposing that we reach out to leaders of the Christian community by using some of our members who are themselves Christians.
“In all of these equations, note that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, is also likely to be a Christian. There are so many things being proposed to placate our Christian brethren, but they would still have to be discussed at a broader level before anything concrete is worked out”.
No cause for alarm
When contacted last night, a Director of Media, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, ABAT, Mobolaji Sanusi, said the presidential candidate had been reaching out to aggrieved Christian groups with the intent to bring them on board the vision.
“The brouhaha over Muslim-Muslim ticket is unnecessary. What should be of utmost concern to Nigerians is the emergence of a true leader for all citizens of this country irrespective of religious or ethnic colouration. And that is what Asíwájú is bringing to the table come 2023 by the special grace of God”, Sanusi stated.
“More importantly, wide consultations are ongoing to bring everybody on board to achieve the Tinubu brand’s vision of creating a Nigeria for all Nigerians. There is no cause for the alarm.”