• Osinbajo: Democracy was hard earned by Nigerians from the six geopolitical zones
• All eyes on PDP over choice of my running mate, says Atiku
• Kwankwaso promises Southern Christian as running mate
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has, again, advised political parties against undermining the Christian community in the forthcoming presidential election by running Muslim-Muslim tickets.
The Christian body gave the warning, yesterday, during the interdenominational church service to mark the 2022 Democracy Day celebration at the National Christian Centre, Abuja. It stated that it is the presidential candidate who works with the church that will win the presidential election.
President of CAN, Dr Samson Ayokunle, who was represented by National President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and Founder of Sword of The Spirit Ministries International, Bishop Francis Wale-Oke, said the party that favours fairness, equity and justice would in return receive the support and votes of Nigerians in the coming election.
This is coming two days after CAN had in a statement by its National Secretary, Joseph Daramola, restated its clamour for “a balance of religious representation on the presidential tickets of the major parties.
“The running mate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential flag bearer, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, should be a Christian from the North; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar’s running mate should be a Christian from the South; while Labour Party’s Peter Obi should choose his running mate among the Muslims from the North.
“Anything contrary to the above means that the leadership of these political parties do not bother about the unity of this entity called Nigeria. Those who are planning a Muslim-Muslim ticket should also find out what was the outcome of the MKO Abiola and (Babagana) Kingibe ticket in 1993. If they try a Muslim-Muslim ticket this time around, the outcome will be worse, because our fault lines are very visible.”
The CAN statement was referencing the 1993 presidential election won by an all-Muslim ticket of Moshood Abiola and Babagana Kingibe, but which was immediately annulled by the military head of state, Ibrahim Babangida. Abiola died five years later in detention over his struggle to activate the electoral mandate.
Recall that Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, had, at the weekend, said there was nothing wrong about the controversial Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket.
While reports make the rounds that APC and its candidate, Tinubu, might settle for a Muslim-Muslim ticket, given the party’s calculation that it might be difficult to find a Christian from the North, who would be acceptable enough to boost the party’s chances in the election, the CAN President, however, warned APC and the major parties to resist the temptation to fly a Muslim-Muslim ticket in next year’s election.
Speaking on the theme ‘More than Conquerors,’ Ayokunle noted that any party that wishes to produce the next president must not undermine the Christian community.
He said: “While I congratulate the candidates, I must sound this warning, please do not fly a Muslim-Muslim ticket. It will not fly. It will not stand. Rather, it would set the nation against each other. The candidate who will emerge is the one who works with the Church. Please, do not alienate the church.”
He urged candidates to exalt righteousness in their campaigns saying: “You can only rule when there is a nation. In your campaigns, make sure you exalt fairness, justice and equity. If there is no righteousness, fairness and equity, we will remain divided.
“There is no fairness if a certain people from a certain ethnic group are reduced to second class citizens who cannot aspire to the highest office in the land.
“We pray for an end to killing people in their place of worship. We pray for a nation that is united and where justice, fairness and equity reigns. God bless you all and God bless Nigeria.”
THE Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, praised the nation’s democratic journey, saying that Nigerians rose to the occasion when military dictatorships almost pushed the country to the edge of extinction.
Speaking at the interdenominational church service, the Vice President who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, noted that the nation’s democracy was hard earned by Nigerians from the trenches of the six geopolitical zones.
He said: “We rose to the occasion, following the ravages of a civil war, to rebuild a united country, no matter how imperfect, and we have come this far because of all of us, from the North, to the South, marched against military rule to transition to democratic governance.
“Our struggle for a better country, as always, will require us to be united. It is important to note that our commemoration of Democracy Day was recently moved from May 29 to June 12 by a President from the North in honour of a political leader from the South.”
Osinbajo observed that democracy works all the time, also, “in a heterogeneous union like ours, through negotiations and compromises, carried out in good faith and each year brings us closer to a more perfect union and a more mature democracy.”
He noted that in 2015, the present administration became the first administration in the history of Nigeria to take over governance from a sitting president in a smooth transition.
According to him, “in the last couple of weeks, party primaries have been held by political parties, big and small, across the country, without violence, rancour or the prevalence of court cases as have characterised the process in times past.”
In attendance at the service were representatives of the Senate President and Speaker House of Representatives, Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha; Minister of Women Affairs, Paulen Tallen; President of the Court of Appeal, represented by Justice H.S. Samani; Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan; Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of the Federal Capital Territory, Water Resources, Police Affairs, Civil Service Commission.
Others include Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor; representative of the Chief of Air Staff, Major General A.B Omozoje; representative of the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral J.B. Basan; representative of the Inspector General of Police, DIG Johnson Kokumo; Chief of Defence Intelligence, Major General S.A. Adebayo, heads of the Federal Road Safety Commission, Nigeria Immigration Service, National Security and Civil Defence Corps and Nigeria Customs Service.
MEANWHILE, as the electoral marathon that will produce Nigeria’s next president enters a new phase with the emergence of party candidates for the February 25, 2023 election, all eyes are on the leading candidates to unveil their running mates.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has given until Friday, June 17, for candidates to name their running mates without which their candidature would be invalid. They also have until July 15 to withdraw from the race and for their parties to name their replacements, ahead of the publication of the final list of candidates on September 20.
Finally, on September 28, the whistle will sound for the start of five grueling months of campaigns for the presidential, gubernatorial and legislative polls.
The PDP presidential candidate, Atiku, on Sunday, said the party has lots of tested and reliable party men who can serve as his running mate. Some of the serving governors being suggested for Atiku include the first runner-up in the presidential primary and Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike; Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa; Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel and Bayelsa State governor, Douye Diri.
In a statement yesterday titled, ‘Let us activate the Atikulator drive,’ Atiku assured Nigerians that the party will present a formidable personality as his running mate.
He wrote: “Throughout the week, I have been busy in meetings with different layers of stakeholders in the PDP.
The objective behind these meetings, among other things, is to strengthen the unity in our party and to make sure that everyone is carried along in the critical decisions that we shall be making on the campaign in the coming days.
“Of course, all eyes are on us about the choice that we shall take in picking a running mate for the ticket. It is perhaps, the most critical decision that any serious candidate should take seriously.
“And, of course, the PDP has a reservoir of reliable hands that fit the bill. The task ahead of us requires that we run with all of our energies to make the right kind of impact in this campaign,” he said.
Also, the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, has revealed that a Southern Christian would be picked as his running mate.
Speaking with reporters, Kwankwaso said NNPP is currently making consultation to choose a credible Southern Christian.
He said: “A committee will be constituted to help get the best Nigerian, who will be a Christian from the Southern part of the country as the running mate. The Kwankwasiyya National Movement is already in the Southern part of the country and we will get someone who is widely accepted as my running mate. When we come together, no candidate of the APC or the PDP will be able to defeat us.”