It is no longer news that the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has finally chosen his running mate after weeks of what looked like an interminable search. But what is the news is the controversy surrounding the suitability of his choice of running mate. Tinubu’s choice of Kashim Shettima the former governor of Borno state as running for the 2023 presidential election has elicited controversy across the country and within the APC fold that forced many of the party faithful to renounce their membership of the party. Many concerned Nigerians see his choice of running mate as an affront on Nigerians. Christians even the party loyalists are indignant at this choice of running mate as seen by the outcry and the flurry of resignations that trailed the announcement.
Clearly, the choice of a running mate is a reflection of the views, the vision of the candidate and a useful gauge of the type of leadership he will provide if elected into power. From the onset, Tinubu left nobody in doubt about his desire to pick a fellow Muslim as different names like Ibrahim Masari, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state and even Babagana Zulum the present governor of Borno state who is said to be the preferred choice but who declined the offer were touted. At no time was the name of a Northern Christian featured. Indeed, Tinubu’s choice of running mate confirms the fears of many Nigerians about the status of APC as a sectional party that has no consideration for the mood of the nation.
As a Muslim I feel outraged for the APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket in a secular state like Nigeria is painting the Muslims in Nigeria in bad light. It is as if the Muslims are hatching plans to forcefully turn the country into a Muslim state as is being insinuated in many quarters. This portends grave danger to our country especially against the backdrop of the fact that his running mate is one who is insinuated to have a link with some members of the Boko Haram terrorists in the past.
Tinubu’s decision to pick Shettima as his running make is a blunder. It smacks of insensitivity and lack of consideration to our cultural diversity. This is an extension of the APC’s policy of exclusion that has kept the nation polarised these past seven years. And clearly, it marked out Tinubu as a desperate man who would do anything including fighting dirty as he had declared during one of his campaigns preparatory to the party primaries to swing his way. It exhibits him as a man whose lust for power is dangerous. It shows that he prefers his personal ambition to the peace and unity of the nation. It is also an indication that he would take questionable decisions if elected president of the country.
Undoubtedly, his decision to pick Kashim Shettima; a man of questionable antecedents who is believed to consort with members of Boko Haram insurgents is an affront to the nation; to both Christians and Muslims. This may portend serious security risk for the nation if the insinuations about Shettima is true.
His decision to pick Shettima obviously an insult on the Muslim North whom he probably sees as religious bigots who can be cajoled into voting him by choosing a Muslim running mate but he will be disappointed. Also, his claim that he chose his running mate on the basis of competence and integrity is an insult on the northern Christians in APC. By that assertion, he is saying that there is no competent or capable person among the northern Christians to run with him. It is unfortunate.
Picking somebody of the same faith to run with you in a multi-religious entity like Nigeria is an error of an unimaginable proportion given the state of the nation. Those who said it does not matter are obviously hypocritical. If it does not matter, they should have advised him to pick a fellow Yoruba man or somebody from the South as well. Nigeria is a multicultural nation and so every responsible regime is expected to reflect our multiculturalism in all decisions. A government or an individual that does not recognise our diversities cannot be trusted to accommodate disparate interests if elected.
Those of his blind supporters who hailed his choice as strategic are only being myopic. Some said his choice of running mate was the same as what they claimed was the reason for late Moshood Abiola’s victory in the June 12, 1993 election. But the same people did not know that the era and the circumstances are not the same.
As observed by a colleague of mine recently, most people didn’t realise that the said June 12, 1993 election was illegal and inconclusive at that for a court of competent jurisdiction issued interlocutory injunction two days to the election stopping the election. And the court judgment made many eligible voters not to turn out for voting. Secondly, Abiola was opportunistic.
If he had not used his military pals in government to ban the 23 known political personalities then he would not have contested against an unknown political minnow called Bashir Uthman Tofa. So those who claimed M. K. O. Abiola won because of Muslim-Muslim ticket should go consult history. Moreover, Tinubu is contesting against a formidable and indomitable political juggernaut, Atiku Abubakar, who is widely accepted across the nation. Tinubu is encumbered by his many scandals and the woeful performance of his party in the last seven years.
Another critical issue emanating from this is the APC’s poor decision turn-around time. The bickering and shilly-shallying in APC’s camp is of serious concern for Nigerians. The PDP did their primaries on the May 28 while APC did theirs two weeks after. And while Atiku of PDP picked his running mate two weeks after the presidential primaries, it took APC six weeks to do theirs.
The APC’s delay is not about deliberation or bureaucratic consultation but about internal wrangling within the party that has impeded the business of governance in this regime. Part of the critical tools in modern public management is the ease of taking decisions. APC is notorious for delays. Recall that it took President Muhammadu Buhari six months to constitute his cabinet while he ruled the country as administrator.
Hajia Mohammed, actress, activist and politician, writes from London, UK via [email protected]