Nigeria has a long shopping list of campaign issues, heading into the 2023 presidential election. Some of the most burning revolve around insecurity, the economy and inflation that’s swelling the price of bread.
But another issue high on that list is the composition of the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Bola Tinubu, who’s a Muslim, picked a fellow Muslim, Kashim Shettima, as his running mate for the election.
Nigeria hasn’t had two Muslim candidates on the same ticket since 1993, so the APC ticket has caused some stir nationwide. Here’s what some prominent voices have said about it:
Edwin Clark — elder statesman
“There’s presently a sharp division in the country, even on religious lines, and all patriots are seeking ways to salvage the situation. Therefore, Alhaji Tinubu’s decision to take a fellow Muslim as his running mate will further worsen the situation in the country. He should know that patriotism is a quality of a good leader.
“There are rumours of an attempt to Islamise the country. Are all these pointers to the confirmation and actualisation of such rumours?”
Festus Keyamo — Minister of State for Labour and Employment
“The government doesn’t exist to assuage the egos of religious leaders, but to bring about development for everyone. There’s no country in the world where history tells us that its development was a result of ‘balanced’ presidential tickets (in terms of religion) over the years. Countries developed as a result of visionary leadership and not because they pandered to some religious sentiments.”
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)
“We have stated it clearly that the situation in the country now is not suitable for a Muslim-Muslim ticket. It’s up to Nigerians to accept or reject.”
Rotimi Akeredolu — governor of Ondo State
“Muslim-Muslim ticket has nothing to do with performance. Let’s vote for someone that can do something. The work stops at the table of the president. It’s the president that you’re voting for. He decides what happens. Whether it’s a Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket, it shouldn’t matter to us in the South because we fought for this.”
Babachir Lawal — former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF)
“Nobody should aspire to be president of this country if he ignores the religious dichotomy in the system. We know that religion is a major factor in this country and it’s a divisive factor. And anybody wishing to lead this country, ought to be concerned that he’s going to kickstart his government in a manner that’s divisive and antagonistic to a certain segment of society.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s Christianity, or Igbo tribe, or Hausa tribe, or Muslims or so on. You are supposed to, first of all, seek to unite the people you intend to rule. Whatever else you will do, without this unity, nobody will appreciate it.”
Elisha Abbo — senator (Adamawa North – APC)
“It’s very irresponsible of Tinubu to take his political survival over the stability and peace of Nigeria. We cannot work for such a man. I’ll oppose a Christian-Christian ticket because I’m invested in the stability of this country. A Christian-Christian ticket will be insensitive to Muslims of this country.
“The country is evenly divided among Muslims and Christians. So any government that’s Muslim-Muslim will be illegitimate and will never gain the respect of Christians.”
Ohanaeze Ndigbo — Igbo socio-cultural group
“Nigeria is a multi-religious and multi-ethnic country and any attempt by one religion to dominate the political structure can only widen the gap of mistrust and destroy the delicate sense of tolerance cultivated over the years. The APC has undermined the efforts of well-meaning Nigerians over the years to bridge religious differences and promote ethnic harmonious co-existence.
Pastor Tunde Bakare — former APC presidential aspirant
“We dream of a Nigeria in which every woman, as well as every man, will be able to aspire to any political office at any time without playing the ethnic card and without recourse to, “It’s our turn,” or “It’s their turn.”
“What we need is a New Nigeria that works for every Nigerian, Christian as well as Muslim. Nationhood, rather than divisiveness, must be the objective of every engagement.
“For the Christians in Northern Nigeria who feel marginalised by the choice of a Northern Muslim as running mate, the time has come to upgrade the conversation from politics to governance. The time has come to interrogate the impact of politics on development.”
Youth Wing, Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN)
“We clearly want to emphasise that this isn’t healthy for the highly diversified Nigerian space, especially in the face of the growing and alarming insecurity in our nation at the moment. Any well-meaning presidential candidate will focus on the all-inclusive federal character.
“A Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket insults the sensitivity of Nigerians and the Christian youths are saying a big NO!”