Edwin Clark, an Ijaw national leader and convener of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), has tackled Bola Tinubu, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for flying a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Recall that while announcing former Governor of Borno state, Kashim Shettima as his running mate on Sunday July 10, Tinubu said he made the decision “in the spirit of 1993” when Nigerians “embraced Chief MKO Abiola and a fellow Muslim running mate”.
Reacting to this, Clark recalled how Tinubu admitted that he lost the vice-presidential slot in 2015 because the APC didn’t want to run with a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Also pointing out that Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation, the Ijaw leader stated that there is a sharp division in the country, even on religious lines and Tinubu’s decision to take a fellow Muslim as his running-mate will further worsen the situation in the country.
The statement read;
“I feel threatened for our beloved country because of the way things are going. Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation, with Christianity and Islam as the major religions, even though Nigeria is a secular state.
“In compliance with Constitutional provisions of inclusiveness, the number one and number two positions in the country, viz, President and Vice President, have always been occupied by practitioners of the two major religions, to ensure balancing.
“It will be recalled that the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC), Alhaji Ahmed Bola Tinubu, could not be chosen in 2015 as Vice President to Muhammadu Buhari, because he is a Muslim and Muhammadu Buhari is a Muslim. Alhaji Ahmed Bola Tinubu, in his own words, confirmed this in his statement in Abeokuta, Ogun State. What has changed? One quality of a good leader is consistency. A good leader must act in the same way at all times, to all people. He must not display double standard.
“Today, what has the Presidential candidate of the APC, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, done? He has picked a person of his religion, a Muslim, as his running-mate. Such choice is not inclusive, it is not good for a secular state like Nigeria.
“There is presently a sharp division in the country, even on religious lines, and all patriots are seeking ways to salvage the situation. Therefore, Alhaji Tinubu’s decision to take a fellow Muslim as his running-mate, will further worsen the situation in the country. He should know that patriotism is a quality of a good leader.
“On the reasons adduced by Alhaji Tinubu on why he chose Kashim Shettima as running mate, is the APC presidential flag bearer telling Nigerians that there are no Christians in the APC from the north who are ‘competent, capable and reliable?’”
Clark also accused the APC of excluding sections of the country. He added;
“It is illusion to think that except one is from the north, you may not win election. So, the idea that unless you come from the north or you are a Muslim, or a Muslim supports you if you are not a Muslim, you cannot win an election, should immediately be jettisoned by proponents of such an idea. The north needs the south to be in power, same way the south needs the north to be in power. No part can do it alone.
“About 46% or more of Nigerians are Christians. Yet a group of persons want to sideline and exclude them from the affairs of the country. This is not possible.
“The question is, is Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu under pressure from these his core supporters and backers, to pick a Muslim as his running-mate, and did he cave in to the pressure because “it is his turn to be President of Nigeria”, despite complaints and protestations?
“The PDP is the cause of these things because of its refusal to zone its presidency to the south.
“These are dangerous signals. Alhaji Ahmed Tinubu cannot compare 2022/2023 with 1993. In 1993, majority of Nigerians, on their own volition, supported the Muslim/Muslim ticket of M.K.O. Abiola and Babagana Kingibe of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), as President and Vice President, 29 years ago.
“It was not shoved on them; it was not forced on them. Also, during that period, Nigeria was not so divided on ethnic and religious divides. If people are complaining, a good leader should listen. Unfortunately, we have leaders who not only ignore the concerns of the people with impunity, but also make crass statements.”