Opposition against the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday grew as the Forum of Northern Christians reiterated its position on the same-faith ticket, saying it would not back down.
The forum is headed by the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara. But a top APC leader tackled Dogara, describing him as a fifth columnist.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a Muslim, emerged as the presidential candidate of the APC for the 2023 elections, while he picked Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, a fellow muslim, as his running mate.
This came on a day Governor of Delta State and Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, on Tuesday took a swipe at Tinubu, over the controversy that has trailed the party’s Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Our position on same-faith ticket stands Dogara, however, said it will meet with all the presidential candidates, across party lines and come up with its preferred choice.
Dogara met behind closed doors with Christian leaders from the 19 Northern states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, in Abuja in continuation of their consultations ahead of the 2023 general elections.
It was gathered that aside the former speaker, others in attendance include former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr Babachir Lawal; an APC Senator from Adamawa State, Elisha Abbo; former Kogi State Deputy Governor, Simon Achuba and all state chairmen of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, from the 19 Northern states and the Federal Capital Territory.
Confirming the meeting in a tweet posted on his verified Twitter account, yesterday, Dogara wrote: “#NigeriaDecides2023: The fight for justice continues. Today (yesterday), we held a consultative meeting with Christian leaders from the 19 Northern States and the FCT on the pan-Nigerian platform to adopt in 2023.”
The forum had recently convened a summit of Northern Christian Leaders in Abuja where they rejected the adoption of a Muslim-Muslim Presidential and Vice Presidential ticket by the ruling APC.
No going back on opposition to Muslim-Muslim ticket—CAN chairman
Also confirming the meeting to Vanguard, the CAN Chairman in Kaduna State, Rev. John Hayab, said: “The meeting was well attended in person by all the CAN chairmen from the North except Katsina state.
“We are saying it’s no going back on our stance against the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the APC.”
Asked which political party the Northern Christian leaders have decided to throw their weight behind, Hayab said: “We will meet with leading Christian politicians across party lines to consult with them before deciding on our next line of action.
“We will also wait for signals from the (CAN) national body. They will also point us on the way to go, but the Muslim-Muslim ticket is out of the equation.
“What we had expected from the APC was for them to call the Church together and explain themselves rather than hiring impostors to impersonate genuine Christian leaders.”
Dogara, Lawal are fifth columnists — Party source
But lampooning the former speaker over his opposition, a top APC leader described him as a fifth columnist. The party leader, who spoke to Vanguard in confidence, also tackled Dogara and former SGF, Mr Babachir Lawal describing them as paperweight politicians.
The source, who is familiar with the workings of the APC, said: “Dogara is a spent force. He was looking for the VP slot, as far as we are concerned, Dogara and Babachir Lawal just want to be noticed. Based on my understanding of how politics is played in the north, the likes of Dogara and Lawal are paperweight politicians as far as northern politics is concerned and also within the Christian community.
“During the last elections, what did they bring to the table from their various local governments? How many people can Babachir Lawal convince to vote for him in Adamawa State? How many people can Dogara convince to vote for others in Bauchi? Dogara is a minority in his state but in spite of that, Muslims supported him to become Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“They are fifth columnists as far as we are concerned. I see it as an attempt to demystify the myth around religious politics in Nigeria because an average Nigerian is not bothered about where you come from as long as you give him the basic needs. Look at the Vice President, how has his Vice Presidency benefitted any Christian in Nigeria?
The thing is staring them in the face that Bola Tinubu will win in 2023 and that is why they are looking for a way to thwart his victory.
I don’t believe in playing politics with religion, Okowa slams Tinubu
Meanwhile, Governor Okowa tackled Tinubu and the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Mr Peter Obi, over their recent utterances, saying he does not believe in playing politics with religion..
He said this during the Northern Christian Youth Assembly Summit in Abuja.
The governor also condemned the idea of cyber-bullying by supporters of other presidential candidates, which he said won’t stop him from speaking the truth about the situation in the country.
His words: “I do not believe in the Muslim-Muslim ticket. The reason is that there is a diversity when it comes to that. Therefore, sticking to one faith is not a good thing to do particularly in a troubled nation as we are in today. It’s almost like going on to having the presidential candidate pick his vice presidential candidate from the north and picking the Vice Presidential candidate also from the North.
“So, the only ticket that can work for our Nigeria is the ticket that is not trying to build itself to election victory to either the Muslim or Christian faith. “PDP will win the election because many people have keyed into this project. We are receiving decampees in droves.
“When we talk about the future is for the youths, yes it is from today but the truth is that our youths, particularly youths leaders, must be in a position to have a clear understanding so that they can guide others aright.”
First published in Vanguard