A former Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Lagos State, Henry Ajomale who is a key ally of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has insisted that the party will field a Muslim-Muslim ticket for the 2023 presidential election despite growing opposition to the proposal.
He made his assertion as key Christian and secular groups over the weekend kicked against the proposal.
Speaking with Sunday PUNCH in a telephone interview, Ajomale stated that the slot for the vice-presidential candidate, which is presently being held by would be filled by July 15.
Ajomale said: “Although we are still consulting, it is certain that the APC will be flying a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“Masari, our placeholder, may likely be substituted before July 15. However, the destination is still between Borno State in the North-East and Kano/Kaduna states in the North-West. Either way, it will be a Muslim running mate.”
The names that have previously been mentioned in the three states are former governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima and the incumbent governor, Prof Babagana Zulum. In Kano State, the governor, Abdullahi Ganduje is said to be on the list, while in Kaduna State, the governor, Nasir El-Rufai, is being considered.
Ajomale maintained that the APC could not afford to gamble at such a critical moment when opposition candidates were desperately seeking an inroad to claim massive votes in the North.
He stated, “The truth is that Asiwaju has no choice. The majority of the northerners are Muslims and fielding a Christian northerner is a risk that can split his vote to give Atiku an edge. But if he settles for the former (a Muslim), they will troop out in large numbers to vote for him.”
However, the synod of the Christian Reformed Church -Nigeria (CRC-N) on Saturday joined growing opposition to the proposed Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket by the APC and Tinubu
The CRC-N synod said Nigeria was a secular state and that choosing a Muslim -Muslim ticket would come with consequences.
This was contained in the communiqué issued at the end of the 154th General Church Council meeting signed by the President, Rev Isaiah Jirapye, and the General Secretary, Rev Sagarga Gargea.
It described the proposal by the APC as a calculated arrangement aimed at pushing Christians out of the political leadership of the country.
Also speaking on the issue, the General Superintendent of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry, Pastor William Kumuyi, advised politicians to feel the pulse of the nation before settling for the next set of leaders.
According to him, political leaders need to make consultations, especially on speculations around Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian tickets for the presidential election.
“The Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket is a difficult and slippery area,” he said.
A group, Northern Nigeria’s Front for Equity and Good Governance, has also joined the growing opposition the proposed Muslim-Muslim ticket for Tinubu.
While insisting that there are a number of Christian northerners that the APC can choose from, the group recommended that the search is narrowed down to the Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum and Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, for the sake of equity and justice.
Leader of the group, Zakariya Abdul’aziz, noted that religion had never dictated the voting pattern of the North, adding that the region had always participated in national politics as a diverse but united entity with common goals.