By Dayo Johnson, Regional Editor, South-West & Ibrahim Hassan, AKURE
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and renowned Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, were on a warpath, yesterday, over the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
While Governor Akeredolu urged Christians to look beyond religion and focus on the competence of the presidential candidate, Sheikh Gumi described the same-faith ticket as deceitful, saying what Nigeria need in 2023 is an experienced leader who can unite the people.
Ondo gov begs Christians over APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket
Speaking at the 40th Holy Ghost Convention Dinner of The Sword of the Spirit Ministries held in Ibadan, Oyo State, Akeredolu, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde, insisted that he led his colleagues in the Southern Governors’ Forum to demand Southern Presidency, despite stiff opposition from some quarters.
His words: “That is why under the Southern Governors’ Forum, where, luckily, God made me the chairman, we kept hammering on that.
“It must come to the South. And when it also got to our party in APC, we fought that it must come to the South. Luckily, it did not only come to the South, it also came to the South-West. Now, where do we stand? I understand our feelings because I’m one of you.
“I discussed with Bishop Francis Wale Oke that the presidency must come to the South. Take it or leave it, it is the minimum we can get. It must come to the South.
“I am a Christian. All of us here are worried. What will be our gain? And why is my party, the APC, throwing up a Muslim-Muslim ticket?
“It has been a real issue for all of us, even members of the party; it has been an issue for us.
“We have debated it, fought it and we have done so many things on it. I have always said to people, that my fight was for the Southern president.
“Now, it has come to the South-West, will I now throw the baby away with the bathwater? Can I, in all honesty, do it? Should I, in all honesty, do it?
“We call it a matter of coincidence. It is a matter of conscience. All of us are here, why don’t we look at it from one angle?
“The buck stops on the table of the President. Do we have a capable hand who can manage affairs, if given the opportunity? Do you have a man who is bold enough to challenge incursion into our land? That is it. All of us here have lived together for years and we didn’t allow religion to bring fight among us.”
While he urged Nigerians not to thwart the chances of the South-West zone producing the next President in 2023, Akeredolu described Bola Tinubu as the best choice.
Christians’ support for APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket
On the Muslim-Muslim ticket, the governor urged Christians to look beyond religion and focus on the competence of Tinubu.
He said: “We have Muslims in our families and there is no fight. We have many leaders in Yorubaland who have both Muslims and Christians in their families and there is no fight.
“So, we want to appeal to our people that this is our time. I want to appeal to all our senior pastors and general overseers to help talk to their followers. We, politicians, can only do little. This is our time, please don’t be angry.”
Muslim-Muslim ticket is deceit — Gumi
However, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi described the Muslim-Muslim ticket as deceitful, saying what Nigeria needs in 2023 is an experienced leader who can unite the country.
According to him, Nigeria does not need a novice as president, but an experienced politician to lead it after the 2023 general election.
He advised that Nigerians should do away with ethnoreligious politics in the 21st century, and come together as one united people for the progress of the country.
In an interview on the state of the nation and the 2023 general elections, Gumi said there is nothing wrong with politicians contesting elections several times, looking for victory.
On Atiku Abubakar, he said: “Nigeria needs an experienced politician. We don’t need a novice to be President. The situation in Nigeria today needs an experienced politician to solve it.”
On Tinubu, who said it is his turn to be President, Sheikh Gumi said: “It is not proper for him to say it is his turn. There is no question of saying it is my turn. Don’t say it is my turn because if people like you, they will vote for you.
“He is a good administrator, he can do it. The Muslim-Muslim ticket is unnecessary.
“We all know, all these politicians are looking for votes. The Muslim-Muslim ticket, let me use Hausa language, is wayo (deceit). It is not religion. Whether it will work or not, I don’t want to prophesy but there are a lot of hurdles.
‘’In fact, all the political parties have hurdles. Muslim-Muslim ticket is going to be a laboratory test for others to emulate or not.”
On Peter Obi, he said: “Youths following him are divided like the adults. He needs to reach out to other segments of Nigerians. Relying on youths is not enough. He has to be all over the place, and not leaving politics to one region.”
Sheikh Gumi warned that if an inexperienced politician is voted into power, he will find it difficult to assemble the best brains within a possible time frame to set the nation working progressively.
Sheikh Gumi noted that it took President Muhammadu Buhari over six months to appoint ministers and government officials because he (Buhari) is an inexperienced politician.
“Nigeria is now in the 21st century, people are more educated now. What Nigeria needs now are people with competence. We should not be talking about the North because the North is no longer monolithic.
“We should not be talking about South-West because no particular person is in control. We should not be talking about the South-East. Look at how Senator Ifeanyi Ubah was attacked by his own people.
“So, let’s talk about Nigeria as one united people. Nobody controls anybody in the country. So let’s move forward. Look at America, nobody is talking about power rotation. Let’s develop a democracy that we can sustain,” he added.
Gumi said social injustice and poverty are responsible for insecurity in the country, adding that seven years into President Buhari’s government, almost every Nigerian is feeling the pains of socio-economic hardship in the country.