• Monday, July 22, 2024
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Muslim-Muslim ticket: Christians, unite to defend your faith in 2023

Muslim-Muslim ticket: Christians, unite to defend your faith in 2023

Yesterday, December 25, Christians worldwide celebrated Christmas to mark the birth of Jesus Christ. In every country with a predominant or substantial Christian population, the president or vice-president, the head of state or prime minister, is a Christian.

However, in Nigeria, this year’s Christmas may be the last, probably for the next eight years, that Christianity would be represented politically at the seat of Nigeria’s sovereignty, the Presidency; that someone professing the Christian faith would be president or vice-president!

Surely, if Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, wins next year’s election, then, Nigeria would have a Muslim president and a Muslim vice-president, Alhaji Kashim Shettima; probably for the next eight years if they win a second term! In storytelling, the plot is what happens; the theme is what it means. A successful story must answer both questions: “what happens?” and “what does it mean?

But answering the question “what does Tinubu’s Muslim-Muslim ticket mean?” is beclouded by partisanship and deception. Hence, some mendaciously dismiss concerns about the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket by saying that a) the vice-president is “powerless”, and b) a Christian vice-president can’t protect Christians. So, what’s all the fuss about?

I tackled those specious arguments in a column titled “Muslim-Muslim ticket: Christianity would suffer at the seat of Nigeria’s sovereignty” (BusinessDay, September 5, 2022). My aim here is different: to admonish Christians and Christian leaders to beware of Tinubu’s attempts to schmooze and beguile them with utter falsity about the real intention and implications of his Muslim-Muslim ticket.

Tinubu says he won’t Islamise Nigeria. But what more insidious way to Islamise Nigeria than having a Muslim president continuously for 24 years? So, what? Well, Christians must vote massively, joined by patriotic non-Christians, to stop a Tinubu presidency

Karl Marx famously said: “Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!” Similarly, my Christmas message is: Christians of Nigeria, unite! You have nothing to lose but the political affront on your faith, the denigration of your religion!

For the truth is, Tinubu and his party, APC, have, for political expediency, set out to belittle the Christian faith. They have set out to deny Christianity equality of status with Islam in the Nigerian political firmament. Instead, they’re condemning Christianity to a second-class status, suggesting it lacks parity of political influence with Islam.

Provocatively, Tinubu continues to double down on his Muslim-Muslim ticket, insulting the collective intelligence of Christians. Recently, he told leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in Abuja, that he picked Shettima as his running mate because he’s an “exceptionally gifted human being” with “superior intellectual capacity”. Clearly, Tinubu was saying he searched far and wide but found no Northern Christian in APC with those attributes. Of course, he’s dissembling!

But while Tinubu continues to lie to Nigerians about the real intention behind his choice of a Muslim-Muslim ticket, leaders of his party are more forthright with the truth.

In an interview with BBC Hausa in August, the APC national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, put it this way: “In our understanding of the politics in Nigeria at the moment, the Muslim-Muslim ticket is the best decision for us because we want to win the election,” adding: “Everyone has his own strategy for winning elections.”

Dr. Kayode Fayemi, then Ekiti State governor, put it even more bluntly.

Speaking to the new executives of CAN, Ekiti State chapter, in July, he said: “The decision (Muslim-Muslim ticket) was not on grounds of competence because we have competent Christians all over Nigeria, but on grounds of strategic political moves.” He added: “We have to look at scenarios and calculate where the votes would come from; it’s a game of numbers!”

Of course, anyone with a modicum of intelligence knows that Tinubu’s Muslim-Muslim ticket wasn’t based on “competence” but pure electoral calculations. But it’s the self-interested calculations that make the decision unbearably disturbing because it shows Tinubu’s willingness to put his self-interest, his “lifelong ambition”, above the national interest – internal cohesion and religious harmony. He assumes he can take Christians for granted, ride roughshod over their sensitivities, and still become president.

Why is Tinubu that confident? Well, his calculation rests on two myths. One is that the South-West or the Yorubas put ethnicity above religion; so, despite the Muslim-Muslim ticket, Yoruba Christians would vote for him simply because he’s Yoruba. The other myth is that Northern Muslims put religion above ethnicity; so, they would vote for Tinubu, a Yoruba, provided his running mate is a Northern Muslim, not a Northern Christian. Thus, Tinubu sees his Muslim-Muslim ticket as a winning formula based on ethnicity in the South-West and religion in the North!

Read also: Muslim-Muslim ticket: Christianity would suffer at the seat of Nigeria’s sovereignty

But if both myths hold true, the long-term consequences for Christians are dire. First, no Northern Christian would ever become vice-president, let alone president. Why? Because Northern Muslims simply won’t vote for one. Second, Christians in the South, particularly in the South-West, would lose political potency as ethnicity would always trump their faith!

In such circumstances, Christianity in Nigeria would face a perpetual political disadvantage because a) Christians in the North seemingly lack electoral value and b) Christians in the South won’t defend their faith in the political space. Indeed, those assumptions were what emboldened Tinubu to call the bluff of Christians and opt for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.

Tinubu adds insult to injury by telling critics of his Muslim-Muslim ticket to remember that his wife is a pastor. Really? What an utter hogwash! Imagine a governor or a president who doesn’t have a woman in his cabinet or in any senior position but, when challenged, said: “I don’t hate women; after all, my mother, my wife and my daughters are women.” Is that the point? Similarly, so what if Tinubu’s wife is a pastor? Does having a pastor-wife vitiate the need for a balanced presidential ticket? Certainly not!

Of course, even though she’s a pastor, Tinubu’s wife, Oluremi, a senator, is 100 percent behind her husband’s Muslim-Muslim ticket. She disagrees with the public position of CAN on her husband’s choice of a Muslim-Muslim ticket. She disagrees with prominent Christian leaders, such as Pastor Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), her church, who said he aligned himself with the CAN position, and Bishop Matthew Kukah, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, who said in one interview: “As a Christian, the Muslim-Muslim ticket is totally reprehensible and unacceptable to me.” But, alas, for family and political reasons, it’s not “reprehensible and unacceptable” to Pastor Tinubu!

Indeed, recently, at a public event in Lagos, Mrs. Tinubu defended the Muslim-Muslim ticket wholeheartedly. She said: “Muslim-Muslim ticket will set the tone for the future “, adding that “sometime in the future, we will have a Christian-Christian ticket.” Of course, she’s utterly disingenuous. She knows that Northern Muslims, who wouldn’t even support a Northern Christian running mate now, would never ever support a Christian-Christian ticket. Like her husband, she’s insulting the intelligence of Christians!

Southern politicians have argued that a Northerner should not succeed a Northerner. I agree. But with Tinubu, a Muslim would succeed a Muslim and have a Muslim vice-president. What’s more, a President Tinubu would entrench a long-running Muslim presidency in Nigeria. Assuming he does eight years, the next president in 2031 would be a Northern Muslim. If that president does eight years, then counting from 2015 (Buhari’s first-term) to 2039, Nigeria would have a Muslim president for 24 years consecutively.

Tinubu says he won’t Islamise Nigeria. But what a more insidious way to Islamise Nigeria than having a Muslim president continuously for 24 years? So, what? Well, Christians must vote massively, joined by patriotic non-Christians, to stop a Tinubu presidency. Leaving aside nagging questions about his character, his presidency would destabilise Nigeria! Merry Christmas!