Some northern elders have said they supported Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai’s staunch opposition to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s vice presidential ambition and a Muslim-Muslim ticket for the 2015 presidential poll.
Last week, Tinubu was reported to have stated that his moves to become President Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate was prevented by Saraki and el-Rufai.
Tinubu had in a book, ‘Against the Run of Play’, authored by the Chairman of ThisDay Editorial Board, Olusegun Adeniyi, accused the Senate President and other individuals of prevailing on Buhari not to pick him as the running mate for the 2015 election.
Speaking on Saturday, one of the northern elders, Rev. Bitrus Dangiwa, who is also a chieftain of the Northern Elders Forum, said he was one of those who threw their weight behind those who opposed Tinubu to become Buhari’s running mate.
The cleric, who was the Youth President, Christian Association of Nigeria in the 19 northern states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, stated in an interview with journalists in Kaduna on Saturday that a Muslim-Muslim ticket would have worked against the All Progressives Congress.
Dangiwa described Tinubu as being “selfish” to have thought that a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket would have worked for the party in 2015.
He went further to praise Saraki for ensuring that the Muslim-Muslim ticket as advocated by Tinubu did not work, arguing that a good percentage of the country’s Christian population would have been neglected.
“Tinubu’s thought of becoming (Nigeria’s) Vice President to a Muslim presidential candidate was not only self-centred or selfish, but it would have worked against the APC. We knew Tinubu’s move for a very long time – most northerners contributed to Saraki’s choice of working against a Muslim-Muslim ticket in the 2015 poll.
“So, Saraki’s decision not to have a Muslim-Muslim ticket was in the best interest of the socio-political development of the nation. There are still good Muslims and good Christians who mean well for this country, and Saraki is one of such good examples,” the NEF chieftain noted.
His views were corroborated by the National Leader of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima, who spoke to one of our correspondents on Saturday night.
Yerima told SUNDAY PUNCH that while the country looked forward to a time when religion and ethnic background would not be the determining factors in electing the president of the country, the 2015 presidential election would not have been won by the APC if the party had gone into the poll with a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“There’s no way that Muslim-Muslim ticket could have worked with the current way the country is set up and with Tinubu who wanted to run with Buhari. The APC would have lost the election. While the youths of this country want a situation whereby religion, ethnicity and language do not determine who govern the country, we are mindful of the fact that present realities wouldn’t have given victory to the APC if it had Muslims for its candidates (president and vice president). Everybody knows that Tinubu wasn’t an ideal person to be Buhari’s running mate.
“Making him Buhari’s running mate would have affected the party adversely. It is true that he has helped many people. He has been useful to many causes and people. But I am not sure anybody would have supported him as Buhari’s running mate. As he said during the week that Senate President Bukola Saraki and Governor Nasir el-Rufai blocked his chance of becoming Buhari’s running mate – that wasn’t a bad move because APC wouldn’t have won the election with a Muslim-Muslim ticket involving a Tinubu,” Shettima stated.
In a similar vein, a National Executive Council member of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Mohammed Abdulrahman, criticised Tinubu’s vice presidential aspiration, noting that a Muslim-Muslim ticket would have killed Buhari’s 2015 presidential bid.
He said, “There is no viability for any two people that are Muslims to steer the ship of peace and unity in Nigeria at the moment. Tinubu is a Christian most of the time. It is only when it is convenient for him that he is a Muslim. It is when it is convenient that he becomes Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“He is what we call ‘Christ-Mus.’ He is a ceremonial religious person. But they (APC) would never have made it (with him and Buhari for the 2015 presidential poll). That will not push Nigeria forward.”
Speaking on the issue, another northern elder, the National President of Arewa Youth Forum, Gambo Ibrahim Gujungu, commended Saraki for promoting peaceful coexistence among Nigerians and for truncating the Muslim-Muslim ticket proposed by Tinubu during the 2015 presidential poll.
He argued that a Muslim-Muslim arrangement would not have given the APC the winning ticket in the last presidential election and would not have yielded any positive result in future elections.
“The Muslim-Muslim ticket will only cause crisis in the country. Nigeria is not ripe for a Muslim-Muslim ticket for the nation’s presidency because Nigerians now play politics of religion and ethnicity,” Gujungu stated.
He also said that he would not support a Muslim-Muslim ticket in future presidential races.
Asked why in 1993, Nigerians, particularly Christians, did not raise eyebrows at the MKO Abiola/Babagana Kingibe Muslim-Muslim ticket under the defunct Social Democratic Party, he pointed out that Nigerians then were not into the politics of religion and ethnicity.
According to him, the politics of religion and ethnicity became more pronounced particularly after former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
Gujungu said it was no longer possible to field two candidates of the same religious orientation in the country.
Weighing in on the issue, a former spokesman for the ACF, Anthony Sani, said he did not support a Muslim-Muslim ticket because of the present “atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion which tends to promote cleavages of the nation along ethnic and religious lines.”
Sani told SUNDAY PUNCH, “When there was mutual confidence and social contract among groups in Nigeria in the past, it was possible for SDP to field Abiola and Kingibe, who were both Muslims, and it came to pass but for the annulment.
“I would not have supported not only a Muslim-Muslim ticket but also a Christian-Christian ticket until such a time mutual trust and social contract among groups would have been restored in the polity.
“The duo (Saraki and el-Rufai) advised against such tickets due to prevailing circumstances. And Tinubu himself accepted the advice without any demur. And that explains why he gladly nominated Prof. Osinbajo to be the running mate to Buhari.”
Reacting to accusations that Tinubu was self-serving in wanting to be Buhari’s running mate, the senator representing Oyo South Senatorial District, Adesoji Akanbi, told one of our correspondents that it did not matter what people said about the APC chieftain, noting that their actions and reactions were that of envy.
“It is jealousy – Asiwaju Tinubu is a man well-loved nationwide. He is not a sectional or religious leader. He warmly embraces all religions in the spirit of love and peace. He is the only member with fantastic influence across the country. Most of the other leaders in the party cannot boast of the influence Asiwaju wields. Let people say what they want to say.
“Those railing against Asiwaju Tinubu want to rewrite history. Can they achieve that? No. It is sheer jealousy to want to reduce Tinubu’s efforts to selfish acts – that’s incorrect. The APC would not have achieved any success without Tinubu in the 2015 presidential poll; there’s no doubt about that. Reasonable people will continue to praise whatever efforts and sacrifices that Asiwaju made. Remember what ex-President Goodluck Jonathan said about Tinubu that a man he feared most in the APC was Tinubu,” Akanbi stated.
Attempts by SUNDAY PUNCH to get a response from Tinubu’s media aide, Mr. Tunde Rahman, did not yield the desired results. Repeated calls to his mobile telephone were neither picked nor returned as at 9:57pm.
A response to a text message sent to him on the subject was still being expected as of the time of filing this report.