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“Akeredolu apologises to clerics over Muslim-Muslim ticket” – News Report.

Governor Akeredolu is another top ranking member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, with whom I have a lot in common. We are both Yoruba, Christians and we attended Comprehensive High School, ‘Compro’, Aiyetoro, Ogun State.

He attended Compro long after I left in 1964 – as the first student of the school to be admitted to university in America. Politically, we were both solidly in the progressive camp – until APC separated us.

I have always been proud of his achievements and have prayed for him each time he was contesting for office. I would have loved to march side-by-side with him again in 2023. But, APC has, since Buhari’s victory in 2015, ceased to be a progressive party. Buhari has turned it into a one-man party – without any of the taints of fairness for which progressives are known.

In the article published on this page three weeks ago, it was pointed out, with evidence, that under Buhari/APC Christians occupy less than fifteen per cent of the top posts. Yet, no single Christian – Osinbajo and governors included – raised objections to the extremely lopsided appointments.

Obviously, they have all accepted their second class position within the party. That was why it was easy for everybody to accept the Muslim-Muslim, Mu-Mu, team as presidential flag-bearers for 2023. For them, Christians apparently don’t count.  It was a great blunder – which is now dawning on them individually and collectively.

MU-MU IDEA LAID THE FOUNDATION OF APC

“Truth is the highest thing that man may keep” – G Chaucer, 1342-1400, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 253.

The same day Asiwaju Bola Tinubu declared “Emilokan”, he also revealed to Nigerians who don’t usually listen carefully that he went to recall Buhari from well-deserved self-retirement by promising to primarily bank-roll his next campaign. In exchange, once selected as the party’s presidential candidate, Buhari would pick Asiwaju as his Vice President. Thus, the first attempt to foist a Mu-Mu team on Nigerians, with Tinubu in it, occurred as far back as that secret meeting between the two APC leaders.

Buhari, in all fairness to him, tried to redeem his pledge; it was the majority of other members who saved us from Mu-Mu team in 2015. Tinubu was all for it. That he has selected a Muslim as running mate for the upcoming election is, therefore, not an accident or a forced error. It represents Tinubu’s personal belief. That belief in Mu-Mu ticket was also reflected in a message Emilokan sent to Islamic leaders months ago; and which is reproduced below with comments from me.

“A presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has charged Supreme Council for Sharia in the country to create department of political affairs to create political awareness among faithful towards producing a Muslim President in 2023” – News Report, March 20, 2022.

The address, delivered on Tinubu’s behalf, has revealed a mindset which many Nigerians, especially Christians, have failed to notice in Asiwaju Tinubu. There are several aspects to it; but, permit me to point to only a few which are terribly disturbing for someone seeking to be our President. The most obvious can be deduced from the report. Tinubu will be President for Muslims only. Christians and traditional worshippers will not count.”

Obviously, the candidate on whose behalf Akeredolu went to plead, embodies the very principle the governor is asking Christians to reject at their own peril. Akeredolu wants Christians to commit political suicide – just to please a candidate who has utmost contempt for their feelings. Go and ask his deputy governors in Lagos State.

Akeredolu is not the only Nigerian APC Christian governor who is faced with an ethical, political and social dilemma. The governors of Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Imo and Plateau are also confronted with the same problem. Governor Lalong is in an even worse situation. The largest Christian denomination in his state is the Church of God In Nigeria, COCIN, and the state is predominantly Christian. Lalong knows that he will labour in vain to persuade his people to vote for the Mu-Mu ticket – so will Fayemi, Umahi and others.

I wrote last week that the gates of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, have been slammed in the face of Vice President Osinbajo. Which parish can he go to plead for acceptance of Mu-Mu team and receive standing ovation? The very polite will grumble silently; the uncouth will protest loudly. I pity APC Christian leaders; who find themselves placed in this hot pot of soup. Their reputations will be destroyed. They will be condemned for not doing enough, if the party loses. They will make life-time political enemies in the unlikely even the team wins in 2023.

WHO SAYS RELIGION SHOULD OR DOES NOT MATTER?

“The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously” – H. Humphrey, 1911-1978, US VP under President Johnson, 1908-1973.

I have read several highly-respected and erudite commentators peddling the stale noodle that religion should not count in the selection of candidates. With no respect to anyone, I hope they all realise that what they are canvassing is an opinion and not a God-given commandment. Almost everywhere in the world, religion is an important element in the choice of candidates.

Joe Biden is only the second Catholic to be elected President after John Kennedy, 1917-1963. No Jew or Muslim has dared. Obama had to spend millions of dollars telling enlightened Americans that he was not a Muslim to get elected. No Arab living in Israel has a chance of becoming Prime Minister and no Christian in Bethlehem can even aspire to be Chairman of Local Government. Certainly, no Muslim can ever become Indian Prime Minister.

There is no need to list seriatim all the examples worldwide demonstrating conclusively that religion does matter. At any rate, ask any devoted Muslim; and you will be told that Islam is a complete way of life. So, the true Muslim must reflect Islamic teachings in all his decisions as a ruler. If that is the case, the question is: in a heterogeneous society like Nigeria, with several religions (not just Christianity and Islam), is balancing not important to avoid the country slipping into a theocracy with only one religion permitted – as in Iran? The place and time to serve notice to politicians that we want balance entrenched is during elections. That is why a Christian-Christian, Ch-Ch, ticket is just as unacceptable as Mu-Mu.

What bothers me about the Nigerian situation is the fact that we are always confronted with Mu-Mu ticket and never with Ch-Ch. Why? This is not the time and place to answer that question. I just want to use the space available to me this week to state that although nobody appointed me a Nigerian Christian leader, the group I represent has asked me to tell the marketers of Mu-Mu that on no account will they contemplate voting for the Mu-Mu presidential ticket.

We will vote for APC candidates if they merit it – irrespective of religion – and we will vote against them if not found suitable. Several of them are like me. We come from families almost equally divided between Muslims and Christians. I am the grandson of a late Alhaji and two Alhajas. One of my grandmothers – Aishat – was Fulani from Shinkafi in Zamfara State. My father, born in Gusau, was forcefully converted to Christianity during World War II in Burma – where he served in the Royal Air Force.

He was one of the founders of the African Church, Eleja, in Gusau. And, by the grace of God, as it is common in Lagos, my wife is the daughter of a late Chief Imam in Lagos Island – Baba Shittu of the first Nigerian Football team to play in England. We have no animosity towards Muslims. Some of our best friends are Muslims and I have three Personal Assistants – all Muslims. I just want politicians to be fair to all stakeholders.

I don’t need any lectures from anybody on religious tolerance. I live by it.

MU-MU ADVOCATES TRYING TO BULLY REALITY

“Wisdom in people consists of the anticipation of consequences” – Norman Cousins, 1912-1990, VBQ p 274.

It is quite possible that Tinubu assumed that, because the late Chief MKO Abiola and Alhaji Babagana Kingibe won despite being a Mu-Mu team, then the feat can be repeated. A better reading of the history of that election would have warned him that they won because the field of politicians was deliberately depleted by Babangida.

Heavyweights like Major-General Shehu Yar’Adua and Mallam Adamu Ciroma were disqualified. Abiola and Tofa entered the race after the power houses had been to “siddon and look” (apologies to the late Chief Bola Ige). You can’t bully reality. Those who convinced Asiwaju that religion does not count have done him a disservice. That is just hogwash.

LAST LINE: Beware of a General who is always Missing-In-Action, MIA. One General frequently disappears to parts unknown – creating confusion and controversy. After our experiences with Yar’Ádua and Buhari, we need to be careful. Otherwise we might end up being ruled by people not elected by us.

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.