2023: Tinubu’s Choice for Running Mate, a Big Statement to Northern Christians
By Collins Mbakwe
Mixed reactions have trailed Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s announcement of the former Governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima as his running mate for the 2023 presidential election.
The Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, has given reasons for picking former Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, as his running mate despite agitations against the Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Before the announcement on 10th July 2022, there had been agitations against Muslim-Muslim presidential tickets by the Christian Association of Nigeria and some prominent Nigerians.
According to Tinubu, he prioritized national growth and development above “religious sentiments” in picking Shettima. In other words, he went for competence rather going for less competent ones because of religious sentiment.
This has generated wild criticisms from many Nigerians, as the implicature of Tinubu’s statement is that there are no competent Christians in the north. While Tinubu reserves the right to choose his running mate, many Nigerians are fuming for Tinubu taking them on a ride. Many would have understood, if he was honest to say that he picked Shettima who is a Muslim, to increase his chance of winning the election than lying to Nigerians that he prioritized national growth in making his choice.
Reacting to the news of Tinubu’s choice of running mate, a socio-political activist, Aisha Yesufu, on Sunday said a Muslim-Muslim ticket “is an insult to fairness, equity, and justice”.
She wrote on her verified Twitter handle: “A Muslim-Muslim ticket is an insult to fairness, equity, and justice. It is impunity of the worst kind. It is disrespectful to the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It shows they have little for people and think their structure is more valuable.”
The Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev. Fr Matthew Kukah, who reacted after the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu picked Kashim Shettima as his running mate said, that Tinubu chose Shettima because he thinks the lawmaker will give him a fair chance in the 2023 presidential election.
Kukah asserted that he is not worried over the choice of the former Borno Governor as the vice-presidential candidate of the ruling party, adding that Tinubu was free to pick whoever he wanted.
He stated that it was up to Nigerians to decide if they want a Muslim-Muslim President and Vice-President or not.
He said, “This is what you call team selection and everybody will choose depending on what they think will give them a fair chance. So people will take responsibility for the choices they have made. For me, it is not something to lose sleep over.
“If people feel unhappy with the kind of choices that have been made, that is why we are democrats, you can’t force it. We outsiders cannot force a choice of any candidate. It is now left for you to look at the choices that have been made. And there is no guarantee that all Christians will vote for Christians and all Muslims will vote for Muslims.”
Before the development, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had vehemently rejected the idea of a single-faith-ticket, urging political parties to focus more on competence than sentiment.
The barrage that has trailed Tinubu’s Muslim-Muslim choice was expected and he and his henchmen have been ready to take responsibility. Many other politicians would have made the same choice as that gives them a higher chance to win.
The problem that many Nigerians have with the choice is not that Kashim Shettima is not competent, but that there are also competent northern Christians, and considering, how divided the country is right now, Tinubu picking a Christian would have been fair.
Alas! Like many other politicians, Tinubu has shown how self-centered he can be. He has shown that in actuality, achieving his interest is of paramount interest to him. And with his choice, again a big statement has been made to northern Christians.
Permit me to say without much ado and fuss that anyone comparing the Nigeria of today to 1993 is making a terrible mistake. Nigeria was not as divided as it is today in 1993, not even in 1967 when the civil war broke out. No political aspirant who takes the unity of Nigeria seriously will show such insensitivity. It clearly shows that winning the election at all costs is more important to Tinubu and his henchmen than the unity of Nigeria.