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Muslim-Muslim Ticket: Has the APC shot itself in the foot? [Editor's Comment]

Whoever disagrees with Tinubu’s choice should be ready to show the ruling party that power truly belongs to the people.

APC Presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and his running mate and former Borno state Governor, Kashim Shettima. [Twitter/@Arewa_Source]

The development since last weekend has been one of the trending news that keeps Nigerians talking about the 2023 elections and the chances of the frontline presidential candidates.

Since the unveiling of Shetima as Tinubu’s running mate, many Christians have been condemning the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for presenting two Muslims as its flagbearers for the forthcoming election.

Due to the perceived religious tension in the country, many people found Shettima’s nomination to be unfair, offensive, and insensitive.

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For a country that struggles to see itself as a united entity, a Muslim-Muslim ticket is a clear disregard for inclusion and may further divide the people along ethnic and religious lines.

Already, the nomination of the former governor of Borno State appeared to have strengthened the sentiment that there is a grand plan to Islamise Nigeria.

This narrative is further buttressed by the recent attacks on churches, and communities that are believed to be dominated by Christians like Southern Kaduna.

Even though insurgents and bandits in the North have attacked hundreds of Muslim homes and families, the claim that Christians are terrorists’ targets should be a concern President Muhammadu Buhari and his party ought to have put to rest. But ironically, the APC in its wisdom feels a one-faith presidential ticket is a solution to the rising spate of insecurity and Christians' cries in the country.

However, as insensitive as the Tinubu-Shettima ticket may seem, the ultimate goal of political contests is to win, and after several weeks of consultations, the ruling party decided to go for a northern Muslim to enhance its chances of retaining the presidency in 2023.

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The APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket is predicated on the notion that the northern electorate doesn’t have serious regard for non-Muslim seeking elective opposition and even though Tinubu is a Muslim candidate from the south, he’s still not Muslim enough to win the heart of the north.

Defending his choice of Shettima, the former governor of Lagos State explained that picking a northern Muslim to complement his ticket had nothing to do with his religion. The APC presidential candidate maintained that his choice of Shettima is strictly based on his qualifications, credentials, and political influence in the North.

“Shettima’s career in politics and beyond shows that he is eminently qualified not only to deliver that all-important electoral victory but, also, to step into the shoes of the Vice-President.

“As a man with the talent, maturity, strength of character, and patriotism, he has my implicit confidence and faith”, Tinubu said.

When it comes to political strategy, Tinubu has undoubtedly made a name for himself. He is a renowned tactician and his choice of Shettima is believed to be a scheme from his political wisdom.

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Picking a running mate from the North East is part of the strategy to reduce the chances of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the coming election.

The North-East, comprising Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba is one of the strongholds of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the main opposition party.

The six states in the region are evenly divided between the APC and the PDP. While Gombe, Yobe, and Borno states are controlled by the APC, Adamawa, Bauchi, and Taraba states are under the control of the PDP.

While many members and supporters of the ruling party, have praised Tinubu and applauded the APC for this political controversy, those who oppose the idea of a one-faith presidential ticket too have every right to express their disagreement and discontent with the strategy.

The 2023 election is still seven months away and it remains to be seen whether this Muslim-Muslim strategy would work in favour of the APC considering the fact that Christian members of the party are dissatisfied with the ticket.

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Some of them have expressed their dissatisfaction by resigning their membership in the party.

On social media, many young Nigerians have threatened to cast their votes against the APC in the next election as many believe that the APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket has no plan to unite the country that’s already falling apart.

For a party, whose administration has been largely unimpressive, one expects such a political party to put its best foot forward to placate the people and win more hearts, but the APC does not give a hoot about what the people think.

But whether the anger against the APC presidential ticket is justified or not, the party is not going back on its one-faith presidential ticket, and rather than cursing and ranting about the development, whoever disagrees with Tinubu’s choice should be ready to show the ruling party that power truly belongs to the people.

There are alternative parties with credible and unproblematic tickets contesting the election, those against the APC ticket can channel their energy to mobilise and support such candidates and let the ruling party bear the burden of its choice.

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