In 1993, Chief MKO Abiola, the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), chose Alhaji Babagana Kingibe as his vice presidential candidate. Nigerians accepted the ticket without any grumbling because the country was fed up with the military junta.
General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB) was dribbling the country about the transition to civilian rule. When IBB became the head of state in August 1985 after a bloodless military coup d’-tat, he promised that he would be in power for only five years which was supposed to terminate in 1990.
However, having tasted power and saw its sweetness and appurtenances, IBB refused to return to civil rule in 1990 but rather kept shifting the goal post to democracy, employing some nebulous reasons to postpone the transition to democracy.
After shifting the goal post several times and finally making up his mind to vacate power in 1993, IBB and the military junta embarked on a disqualification spree of some politicians who had ambitions for various political posts, including the presidency of Nigeria.
Therefore, when Abiola chose Kingibe as his running mate, Nigerians didn’t want to make any fuss about it so as not to give IBB any further tenable or plausible excuses to hang on to power. Nigerians were simply tired of military rule and were eager to have democracy even if the worst of civilians were fielded as presidential candidates of the two political parties which IBB allowed to exist at the time.
Moreover, there was no Boko Haram, Islamic States of West African Province (ISWAP), etc terrorism as we have in Nigeria at the moment. Boko Haram, ISWAP, and other terrorist groups sole agenda is to Islamise Nigeria and that’s the reason the terrorist groups were formed.
Abiola couldn’t have had an ulterior motive for picking Kingibe of the same Muslim religion as his vice president, yet God Almighty didn’t allow the ticket to stand even when Abiola presumably won the 1993 presidential election which was adjudged to be relatively free, fair and credible.
Since God didn’t allow that ticket to stand, how the current presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu chose to toe the same path by picking Alhaji Kashim Shettima of the same Muslim religion as his running mate beggars belief. There are distinctions between Abiola and Tinubu.
Abiola in his lifetime had a larger-than-life image more than Tinubu. Abiola was younger (less than 60 years) when he won the presidency. Tinubu is over 70 years old. You cannot compare the intellectual acumen, image and personality of Abiola to that of Tinubu because the former had a pan-Nigerian, friendly and humorous personality. Abiola had little or no baggage when he contested the presidency unlike Tinubu.
Further, Nigeria had only two political parties at the time, the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) which fielded Alhaji Bashir Tofa as the presidential candidate and Abiola’s SDP. Today, Nigeria has about 18 political parties out of which four of these political parties have fielded strong presidential candidates, namely, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and Tinubu’s APC.
Even if you narrow the contest down between Atiku and Tinubu as we had in 1993, you cannot compare a relatively unknown Tofa to a strong politician like Atiku for Tinubu to have assumed that he could achieve the same feat of victory as Abiola did by picking Shettima.
Atiku, who apparently defeated incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari in the presidential contest of 2019 but was allegedly robbed, cannot be a walk-over for Tinubu as Abiola did to Tofa.
Tinubu was the governor of Lagos state between 1999 and 2007. He had two deputy governors who were Christians, why didn’t he choose a fellow Muslim when he contested in 1999 and 2003? He had been unilaterally imposing and removing governors in Lagos since 2007, why didn’t he choose a fellow Muslim for his immediate successor, Babatunde Fashola?
Fashola, as governor, had two Christian deputies as dictated by Tinubu, why didn’t Tinubu select a fellow Muslim for Fashola? Akinwunmi Ambode and the current governor, Sanwo-Olu, are Christians, why didn’t Tinubu pick fellow Christians as their deputies but rather paired them with deputies who are Muslims? Lagos is a microcosm of Nigeria. Tinubu should have applied his religious balancing in Lagos to the Nigerian presidency which he’s aspiring to lead.
The excuse of picking Shettima based on competence is nonsensical. What was Shettima’s competence or performance when he governed Borno state? Was Borno under Shettima the best developed state in the North, particularly the North-east? Is Borno state not the epicenter of Boko Haram terrorism?
How did Shettima handle the Chibok girls’ abduction in 2014? How a governor under whose state hundreds of school girls were abducted felt unconcerned to report the incident to the then president of Nigeria until after about 17 days when President Goodluck Jonathan, having waited in vain for Shettima to report to the Villa about the incident, had to call the governor by himself? What actually was the competence of Shettima as governor that warranted his choice as vice presidential candidate?
Tinubu’s choice of fellow Muslim means that Northern Christians are worthless and useless and he doesn’t need their votes. If Tinubu wins the presidency, it then means that the presidential Christian chapel in the Villa would be locked up for the next eight years as both the president and his vice president are both Muslims.
When Tinubu finishes his tenure, the position would definitely be rotated back to the northern Muslim who may even opt to pick another southern Muslim as his running mate since it has become a norm rather than the exception. Can APC field or tolerate a Christian-Christian presidential ticket?
Maduako writes from Abuja via [email protected]