Tinubu, Shettima and the spirit of June 12

At last, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has settled for Senator Kashim Shettima, a former governor of Borno state, as his running mate. This followed the resignation of Ibrahim Masari, who was first selected as running mate “place holder”.

The decision of Tinubu to pick Kashim Shettima was borne out of his qualities and leadership style when he governed Borno state. The nomination of Shettima has been greeted with mixed reactions from Nigerians.

Some political pundits had assumed that Tinubu will select his running mate from the North-west geopolitical zone of the country. That was why the names of Governor Nasir El-Rufa’i of Kaduna state and Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano state were repeatedly mentioned as possible running mate.

There were others who waited to see the emergence of a Christian running mate. Alas, with the selection of Shettima, the speculations about who will be the running mate have been put to rest.

However, beyond his leadership qualities, the choice of Shettima is strategically iniated and drafted to check mate Atiku’s popularity in the North-east. Former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, hails from Adamawa state (North-east).

By picking Kashim Shettima, the political battle ground will now be shifted to the North-west. No one can deny the fact that Bola Tinubu controls the politics of the South-west. He has a bright chance of winning the South-west states.

In the South-east, barring any last minute permutations, the votes will go to Peter Obi of Labour Party, LP. The South-south is a strong hold of the PDP. With the vice presidential position zoned to the area, PDP will comfortable win the South-south states. The North-central’s votes will be split among the three dominant political parties, namely, APC PDP and LP.

Nowithstanding, one should not rule out that some Christians from the North-central, in protest against APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket, may vote for either PDP or Labour Party. Also, any party between PDP and APC that forms strong alliance with the Labour Party could coast to victory with relative ease.

Despite my emperical analysis on the strength and weaknesses of these political parties ahead of the 2023 general elections, in politics, nothing is impossible as anything can change within a twinkle of an eye.

But the APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket has continued to receive barrage of criticisms from the Christian community. While voters are at liberty to choose from multiple candidates, religious politics will unarguably shape the 2023 elections.

Some Nigerians have expressed contrary opinions or views on why Tinubu picked Shettima, another Kanuri, as his running mate. They see the action as an effort to light the candles of June 12. In 1993, the military administration of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida organised an election which late Chief Moshood Abiola and his running mate, Babagana Kingibe, won.

For reasons best known to the military junta, the election was annuled. The election was acclaimed to be the most free and fair ever conducted in the history of Nigeria, with both the winner and his vice sharing the same faith. Abiola and Kingibe were both Muslims.

Although, they belong to the same religion, Nigerians trooped out en masse to vote for their party, the Social Democratic Party, SDP. If the election was not annuled, the issue of religious politics will not have a place in our democracy or since became an old passion in our secular country. The arrangements would have afforded the country the opportunity to have Christian/Christian or Muslim/Muslim leaders without furore and fuss.

The million naira question begging for answer remains: is Tinubu’s Muslim/Muslim ticket an attempt to right the wrong of June 12 or a grand ploy by APC to use religion in order to remain in power beyond 2023? Looking at the sensitivy and volatility of religion, flying the same faith ticket in the present day Nigeria may pose a grave danger or affect the fragile peace, unity and corporate coexistence of the country.

Our political elite should enlighten Nigerians more on why the sudden deviation from the norm and how the new system will address insecurity, poverty and economic crisis.

Ibrahim Mustapha,
Pambegua, Kaduna state

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