Ahead of Friday’s deadline for political parties to submit names of their presidential candidates and running mates to the Independent National Electoral Commission, most of the political parties are making hurried moves to beat the deadline.
The commission had said it would not extend the deadline for the submission of names of the candidates and their running mates.
In the Peoples Democratic Party, the committee set up by the party to advise it on the most suitable running mate for Atiku Abubakar will hold its final meeting on Tuesday
The panel, which comprised governors, National Working Committee members, former governors and Board of Trustees members, was given the mandate of recommending to the party, a suitable candidate that will be acceptable by Nigerians and also help win the 2023 election.
In the All Progressives Congress, it was learnt that the party and its candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, might settle for a Muslim-Muslim ticket, given the party’s difficulty in finding a Christian from the North, who would boost the party’s chances in the election.
A top source in the party told one of our correspondents on Saturday that even though consultation was still ongoing, the idea of picking either Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State or the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who are both northern Christians, was no longer topical due to their limited clout in the region.
The source noted that North-West and North-East had the bloc votes in the region and that if the party could not find a stronger Christian from the two sub-regions, it might settle for a Muslim.
However, on Tuesday’s meeting of the PDP panel, a reliable source, told one of our correspondents that the committee adjourned its previous meeting to enable members to broaden their consultation.
“The deadline for submission is June 17, so the meeting was adjourned till Tuesday, June 14, to give room for more consultation and unification efforts. They will take a final decision on Tuesday,” The source said.
It was gathered from other sources in the party that Atiku, who is a BoT member, would also be part of the meeting, and that the party might take a final decision on the issue.
Meanwhile, El-Rufai, who spoke on Channels Television, said Nigerians should be concerned about getting the right person for the job and not religion.
His words: “You are asking the wrong question. I don’t know about Muslim – Muslim ticket. Some of my closest friends are Christians. It was Pastor Tunde Bakare that took me to CPC and not President Buhari. I am very close to many Christians. I don’t think that the business of governance has anything to do with religion. We should look for the best person for the job, the person that can get the job done. I think I am the wrong person to ask of Muslim Muslim Ticket because, in my state, I picked a very competent Muslim woman as a running mate in 2019. They said it was Muslim – Muslim ticket, that we were going to lose but we won overwhelmingly.
This fixation on religion instead of competence and capability is quite sad and sympathetic. I urge you as the media to please take religion out of governance and let’s look for competence, capability and delivery. I don’t think we should be looking at religion if we want to develop this country.
“When I get into a plane, I don’t ask for the religion of the pilot and when I get to the hospital, I don’t ask for the religion of the doctor. I just want to get well. The way the media and many irresponsible people try to inject religion into politics and governance is sad and pathetic and will not take us anywhere. Nigeria is at a crossroads. It is so sad. It is not religion that will address the problem of this country. It is competent people that will address them, unite the country and put it in a progressive part.”
Fani-Kayode in his own contribution said he would support Tinubu should APC settle for Muslim running-mate
“It is an issue and we will have to explain and defend to the wider population of the Nigerian people if we choose to go that way. I am not saying I’m against it. If that’s what the candidate wants, we will stand by him and defend him”, the former Minister stated on a TV programme.
“However, we need to defend it. We can’t just say religion has no place in the politics of today. It certainly does, especially where 50 Christians were slaughtered in a Church in Owo the other day. In Southern Kaduna the other day, 34 Christians were slaughtered.
Fani-Kayode, who noted that these were facts that could not be dismissed, however, said he would support the presidential candidate should he (Tinubu) decide to pick a Muslim running-mate.
“Let’s just hope he reasons it out carefully and chooses the right candidate to run with him,” he said.
CAN has warned the leading political parties against Christian/Christian or Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket in 2023.
Its National Secretary, Joseph Daramola, said it should be avoided in the interest of peace.
He said: “CAN urges that a balance of both religious practitioners be considered in the choice of running mates of the presidential candidates. We do not subscribe to Christian/Christian ticket or Muslim/Muslim ticket.
“Politicians can talk politics but we have stated our view long before now. Any party that tries the same religion ticket will fail. This is not 1993. Even when we have a joint Muslim/Christian ticket, the church still goes through hell.
“Imagine how bad it will be if we have two Muslims in power? The extant Nigerian constitution promotes religious balance. So, if any political party wants to try Muslim/Muslim ticket, it is at its peril. CAN is only forewarning, but will make a categorical statement in the event our warning is not heeded.”
Similarly, Babachir Lawal cautioned APC against opting for a Muslim/Muslim ticket, saying the country is so divided for such.
He said: “It could have been possible for a northern presidential candidate to emerge. But then, you would know that running the country in that manner would have the southern part of Nigeria hostile to that government. So, we allowed it to shift.’’
“Now, extending that consideration to the Muslim-Muslim ticket, I have lived among the Christians and I know that among the Christians, the question of a Muslim-Muslim ticket is a no-go area. It is dead on arrival. Buhari himself, even at that time, had to drop this present presidential candidate because of the tension of a Muslim-Muslim ticket. And we have not seen anything in the country that has changed significantly to allow that to happen.
“On the contrary, it has worsened. The religious divide has increased. Tribal divisions have increased. Regional divisions have increased. So, it would be a good thing if APC would settle for a Muslim-Christian ticket because we know (that the) PDP, that is what they would do.”
However, the presidential candidates of the two leading political parties, APC and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, haven’t picked their running mates. But since their emergence, concerns are growing over the religion of their likely vice-presidential candidates.