Following the announcement of Kashim Shettima as the Vice Presidential candidate to Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Christian political leaders within the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the north say they cannot campaign for the party over the decision to field Muslims as presidential and vice-presidential candidates.
Just on Sunday, after so much delay, Bola Tinubu, presidential candidate of APC, unveiled Kashim Shettima, former Borno governor, as his running mate for the 2023 elections.
The announcement of the former Borno governor has generated mixed reactions from different groups across the country.
The Christian leaders across the 19 northern states, in a communique issued after a meeting on Monday, expressed reservations over the APC Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“As Christians within the APC, we cannot in all fairness to our consciences and faith, go to our various constituencies to campaign for a Muslim-Muslim ticket,” the communique reads.
“Nigeria is a multi-religious and a constitutional democracy and NOT a theocracy with religion as a major national fault line which cannot be whimsically manipulated without dire political consequences on our peaceful co-existence as a people.”
According to the communique, which was signed by Doknan Sheni, Ishaya Bauka and Saidu Ibrahim, the Christian APC leaders in the north said the current political atmosphere of the nation is different from what obtained in 1993 when MKO Abiola, who was a Muslim, chose another Muslim as running mate.
They also said the Muslim-Muslim ticket would make it hard for people to believe that the party is not pursuing an “Islamisation” agenda.
“The selection of a Muslim running mate is a display of crass insensitivity to the complexity of modern Nigeria and the entire Church,” they said.
“That the APC has always come under the suspicion of the Church as pursuing an Islamisation agenda. Hence, the various labels of the APC as: Islamic Movement, Islamic brotherhood, Janjaweed party, Boko Haram party, etc. Now with all the positions in the hands of our Muslim brothers, it would take ingenious mendacity to prove otherwise.
“If the APC said a Muslim-Muslim ticket would be injurious to the health of our nation in 2015, what has therefore radically changed to make Muslim-Muslim ticket good for the health of our nation in 2023 if we may ask?
“That the rejection of a Muslim – Muslim ticket by Christians would undermine the electoral fortunes of the APC and its candidates across all States and constituencies where Christians enjoy a numerical advantage. By so doing, APC has recklessly thrown its Christian candidates under the bus across the nation.
“We are disheartened that someone who wants to be a leader for all sections of the country is reasoning to religious exclusivism as a tool for winning an election. This will certainly result in a massive revolt against the party. Leadership is all about inclusiveness, justice and equity.”
The group also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the matter in the interest of “peace and stability of the nation”.