As agitation not to field a Muslim-Muslim joint ticket continues to hit the Nigerian political landscape, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, has kicked over contemplation that the All Progressives Congress, APC is shopping for a Muslim as running mate for the ruling party’s presidential flag bearer, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Lawal reminded that the APC discouraged fielding a Muslim running when President Muhammadu Buhari emerged as the candidate of the ruling party in 2014.
The former Secretary, of Channels Television’s political show, Politics Today on Thursday, noted that ethnoreligious factors are still very much relevant in Nigerian politics.
In a keenly-contested presidential primary, the national leader of the APC, Tinubu had polled 1271 votes to emerge winner and flag bearer of the APC.
He defeated his arch contenders including a former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who had 316 votes and the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo who garnered 235 votes.
Lawal said, “A political party is in the business of winning elections and to win elections you need to get the votes to beat your opponents. The way I see it is that in choosing your vice-president, that must be paramount in your mind. You can have the best ticket but if you don’t win elections, it is a waste of time.
“So, whatever candidate we are going to choose, we will bear in mind that that vice-president will contribute to winning that election. How does he (or she) continue? It is either he (or she) is popular and can bring in the votes or he (or she) can bring the money that will help our logistics in getting out the votes, so we can win the elections.
“But then, there is also the requirement that you want to run a united country; you want to run a country where you don’t have friction in the society – peaceful, settled and everybody goes about their business,” he said.
He further said, “To that extent, you must factor in Nigeria’s peculiarities in politics. That is why, for example, in recognition of these peculiarities, the northern governors and the majority of us in the North felt that the presidency ought to shift to the South.
“It is not a requirement in the Constitution that it has to shift. There is no zoning. But it is so we can have a country that is united; that everybody can go about their business in a peaceful environment.
“It could have been possible for a northern (presidential) candidate to emerge. But then, you would know that running the country in that manner would have the southern part of Nigeria (be) hostile to that government. So, we allowed it to shift.
“Now, extending that consideration to the Muslim-Muslim ticket, I have lived among the Christians and I know that among the Christians, the question of a Muslim-Muslim ticket is a no-go area. It is dead on arrival. Buhari himself, even at that time, had to drop this present presidential candidate (Tinubu) because of the tension of a Muslim-Muslim ticket. And we have not seen anything in the country that has changed significantly to allow that to happen.
“On the contrary, it has worsened. The religious divide has increased. Tribal divisions have increased. Regional divisions have increased. So, it would be a good thing if APC would settle for a Muslim-Christian ticket because we know (that the) PDP, that is what they would do,” he added.