The Coalition Movement for Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a support group based in the South-West geopolitical zone, has released a report to guiding the All Progressives Congress and its presidential candidate on the selection of his running mate and the controversy over a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
COMBAT, which was convened by the Deputy National Chairman of the South-West Agenda for Asiwaju, Senator Rilwan Akanbi, released the report on Sunday, a copy of which was forwarded to The PUNCH.
The report was titled, ‘Nigeria Stakeholders Engagement Review: APC 2023 Presidential Election.’
The coalition noted that the emergence of Tinubu, a Muslim from Lagos State in the South-West, “has turned out to be a very challenging and tense in views of a selection of his vice-presidential candidate.”
According to the report, the situation is “a reversal of political status on the country in 1993” when the late Chief MKO Abiola, a Muslim from the South, ran the presidential election with Bashir Tofa, another Muslim from the North.
COMBAT stated that the plan that APC candidate picks a Muslim running mate from the North “seems inevitable for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, considering the roles played by notable members of the party from the North and knowing that northern regions remains the stronghold of the party”.
The report read in part, “Expectedly, Christian Association of Nigeria’s vehement opposition to such a ticket favour opposing views among the segment of the party and non-party public, especially from the Southern part of the country. For those opposing the Muslim-Muslim ticket, it is perceived that the ticket will be a direct challenge to the Christian community and may have a negative impact on the chance of the party winning the 2023 presidential election.
There is school of thought who doesn’t see Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s wife (Senator Oluremi Tinubu) being a Christian and a possible First Lady as a solution to the issue because they thought the attention given to the South-North regional diversity should be applied to Muslim-Christian diversity as well.
“All over the world politics is about interest, which can be personal, communal, ethnic, racial, religious, etc. However, there are strong views who believe that strong and admirable values and visions for nation-building should override these sentiments which should be our selling proposition.
“With this development, political analysts believed that the chances of presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the ruling party of APC to retain the position in the 2023 may be threatened based on the outcome of selection of a vice-presidential candidate for the 2023 election.
According to COMBAT, those supporting a Muslim running mate to Tinubu “believe that it would be politically expedient for the party to take advantage of huge potential voters in the northern regions, dominated by Muslim population and being the stronghold of the party in the last two presidential elections.”
The coalition stated, “The fear about the Muslim-Muslim ticket can be doused through a political solution where strategic government positions are zoned to individuals from others (zones) not represented at the presidential or vice-presidential level. Such positions may include the President of the Senate president, Speaker of the House of Reps, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, etc.”
COMBAT also stated that the APC needs to make “all necessary sacrifices, appeals or negotiations” that will help to reach an amicable solution in the light of winning the 2023 presidency.
It noted, “The good starting point is to understand the mindset of stakeholders and the electorate to guide the decision in respect of the vice-presidential candidate because the struggle for the 2023 presidential election will certainly remain the APC and PDP affairs.
“Despite the favourable outlook for the opposition party in settling the matter of religion of its running mate, what may be the deciding factor for APC is how internal democracy is effectively managed to avoid division over the choice of vice-presidential candidate for the party.
“Just like in another political environment, it is important to recognise religious factor in the Nigerian context, going by our political history and current the challenges, thus the need to ensure a wider consultation both within and outside the party if the Muslim-Muslim ticket must be considered for stakeholders to buy-in.
“The party and the candidate need to recognise people’s emotional attachment, perception, and reality to all religious interests, in view of the prevailing circumstances.
“However if the running mate must be a Muslim, he must be a personality that will be seen has accommodating and sensitive to the Christian community over the years and who they can trust. This can be achieved through a commitment to the national interest.”