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Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima
In the last few weeks, speculation has been rife about what some political pundits refer to as the “Muslim-Muslim” ticket of the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate.
Therefore, it appears the prediction came to past when the APC candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, announced a Kanuri Muslim, former lecturer, banker, ex-Governor of Borno State and serving Senator, Kashim Shettima, as his running mate.
Expectedly, this has degenerated into a backlash, particularly from the Christian community with its feeling of marginalisation and its age-long alleged ‘Islamisation’ of Nigeria by the ruling (Muslim) elite class. The reaction of the Christain Association of Nigeria to the development confirms the mood and position expected from the Nigerian Christian community.
In his last Monday column in The PUNCH Newspaper, Tunde Odesola is quoted to have said “… the mind of an average Nigerian has been basely reconfigured to see issues only from ethno-religious and political prisms.…..” Since independence, politics in Nigeria has been predominantly ethno-religious inclined, but more of ethnicity. This has been the basis for who gets what, where and when?

Interrogating the Nigerian political trajectory suggests that religion matters less to the people as to the strength of their ethnic affinity. This was evident in the agitation by actors in the major parties that power should shift to the South, with no caveat that it must be a southern Christian.
Recall, in 1993, Nigerians overwhelmingly voted MKO Abiola, a Yoruba Muslim from Ogun State and Babagana Kingibe, a Kanuri Muslim from Borno State as President and Vice President respectively. Ahead of the 2019 elections, Governor El-Rufai of Kaduna State picked a Muslim as running mate for his second term, and went ahead to win the election by a wide margin. Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and his Deputy, Erelu Olusola Obada ran on a Christian-Christian ticket and won election for two terms in Osun State between 2003 and 2010. In my state, Ekiti, Dr Kayode Fayemi demystified this tendency when he picked Chief Bisi Egbeyemi, and they both won the governorship election on a Christian-Christian ticket. Just on June 18, 2022 Mr Biodun Oyebanji and Prince Monisade Afuye, both Christians, were elected as Governor and Deputy Governor of Ekiti State respectively.

However, the hues and cries over the Muslim choice of the APC presidential candidate are unnecessary. As a Yoruba Nigerian, I know religion has never been a factor in our clime as maybe elsewhere. We inter-marry, sometimes husband and wife practise different faiths and their marriage is never threatened. There is hardly a family that is exclusively Christian or Muslim or traditional religion worshipers in Yoruba-land.

Any reaction by an anti-Muslim/Muslim ticket is illogical. This agitation should have been for the ‘Muslim-Africa Traditional Religion worshipers’ ticket if the claim is anything to go by. The ATR has suffered an unpardonable onslaught from both foreign religions since they were forcefully introduced to Nigeria.
Unfortunately, these forces have only been explored by the ruling class to whip the emotions of poor Nigerians to clinch power. Neither religion nor ethnicity is a determinant of progress and development, rather a strong, disciplined and determined people with commensurate leadership. In the leadership deficit bedevilling Nigeria, the average Nigerian is as guilty as the ruling elite in his conspiracy of silence or outright collaboration.
In any event, we in the Christian Community have choices from the 15 presidential candidates published by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
As a Nigerian exercising his political right, the ‘Tinubu-Shettima’ is well-considered and it is okay for the next phase of Nigeria.

  • Adenitan Akinola writes from Anaye Street, Ikere Ekiti

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