By Miftaudeen Raji
Though criticisms have continued to rattle the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s Muslim-Muslim ticket, the party has maintained that “religion cannot always determine our path.”
The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, frowned at the nomination of former governor of Borno state, Kashim Shettima, as the APC vice presidential candidate, saying for Tinubu and his party to make such a decision in a polarised country was a wrong move.
However, the fact still remains that politics is a game of numbers, and real time elections are about the votes.
Therefore, the support base of political parties in terms of quantity of supporters is a determinant to winning an election. A study by Awofeso and Irabor (2017) adopted the theory of games as a theoretical model to unfold the scheming mechanism embedded in the new dimension of cross-carpeting by Nigeria’s political actors.
The study inferred that the game theory is anchored on the rationality of the behaviour of the players participating in the game.
In this light, we have gathered factors and reasons why a Muslim-Muslim ticket is the only option that Tinubu is left with if he really want to win in 2023.
Decimating Atiku’s strength in North
Already, with the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, candidate, Atiku Abubakar, from the North-East (Adamawa State), the candidate has posed a serious challenge for Tinubu who comes from the South-West.
Sadly, the North-East is not in any way sure for Tinubu, even if he fields a Christian or Pastor as running mate.
With this reality, he needs to take the fight to the terrains of his real opponent, which is the North, where Atiku is from.
Although he is not seen as that staunch ‘Muslim’ in the North, Atiku still wields great influence and followership that can translate to votes. The PDP candidate could almost be certain that he has the North-East in the bag.
But by the choice of former two-term Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, who is also a force to reckon with in the North-East, Tinubu has potentially decimated all the strength Atiku and the bloc vote that could come from that political region.
The North, which determines the majority votes in the history of Nigeria general elections, and the North-East generally, are Muslim majority. Tinubu’s political reality dictates a Muslim vice presidential candidate, who can relate and appeal to the North for votes.
The duo of Shettima, who was the Director-General of Tinubu’s campaign organization and predecessor of incumbent Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, have further solidified Tinubu’s grip on Borno.
Meanwhile, Borno’s votes tremendously weigh more than the votes of Taraba State and Adamawa State, the homestead of Atiku.
Desirous of winning Muslim majority North
Tinubu is desirous of winning the majority votes and making frantic efforts to appeal to the regions that matter most politically.
The APC candidate needs the Northern votes more than the South-East and the South-West in the forthcoming 2023 presidential election.
To win the mass majority of votes in the North, specifically the North-East, Tinubu is banking on Shettima to deliver the region, while Buhari and the APC governors are expected to deliver the North-West and North-Central to APC.
This permutation from these key three geopolitical regions could have informed the choice Tinubu’s Muslim/Muslim ticket.
Ordinarily, there is a conception that the majority of the South-West will vote for Tinubu. However, this cannot be said of the South-South and South-East regions of Nigeria. This is hinged on the fact that the Muslim-Muslim ticket will really be a big issue for some Christians from the South-South, South-West and especially the South-East.
From the recent presidential elections in Nigeria, these regions normally do not vote for the APC anyway. On this basis, it could be inferred that these regions cannot be the main factors for consideration for Tinubu, because political expediency advises that political permutation mainly considers the opinions of the staunch supporters and majority votes. Consideration could only be for those who will give their vote.
The South-East and South-East alone cannot deliver the required majority votes. Recall that former President Goodluck Jonathan, in 2015, won the South-South and South-East, but still lost the presidential election.
The South-South and the South-South will vote either PDP or Labour Party, even if Tinubu had picked a Christian running mate. The South-West does not really care about religion. South-West is relatively the most tolerant zone in Nigeria. Worse case scenario, Tinubu will win more than half of the South-West.
The zones that will be most excited by the Tinubu/Shettima ticket are Northern states; they are the majority that will vote for Tinubu and Shetima, who are both Muslims.