APC and Muslim-Muslim ticket | Dailytrust

APC and Muslim-Muslim ticket

It is the realization that Nigeria’s presidency cannot be won by the sole or combined agencies of personal fame, resources or regional influence that informed the ideation of a merger of political parties that eventually birthed the APC. 

And the essence of this merger, as it were, was the pursuit of a formidable confluence between Nigeria’s most politically active blocs – northern and south-western regional voting blocs. The central representative figures of the two voting blocs were Muhammadu Buhari and Bola Ahmed Tinubu. 

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Evidently, the merger would not have been successful without the uncompromising commitment and consensus of these central figures. Lack of such a consensus was the sole reason why attempts at the merger failed in 2011.

In both instances, the dynamics of running mate selection constituted a major challenge; one that stalled the entire merger process in 2011 and almost jeopardised the efforts again in 2015 if not for last minute compromises.

The resumption of merger talks was principally premised on the assurances of improved mutual understanding and primacy of deliberation and mutual agreement on all issues before implementation. Resultantly, the issue of VP selection was agreeably deferred to the ACN side of the merger. And being the leader of the ACN and a southerner, Bola Tinubu was the first point of call. 

However, such a supposition was put to test by the concern of certain stakeholders largely from the non-ACN merging parties over the feasibility of flying a Muslim-Muslim ticket to victory against the PDP. And based on this singularity of a justification defined strictly on the bases of religious [in]compatibility questions, Tinubu was dropped for Osinbajo. 

Seven years later, the same political platform faces same dilemma. The dynamics that defined Tinubu’s emergence were largely characterised by ethnic considerations and the process of choosing his running mate seems to be greatly saturated by the influence of the overbearing conflict of ethno-religious interests. 

Ironically, the hypocritical ultimacy of political convenience as against principle has never been this blatant. Scores of politicians who vehemently opposed the idea of a Muslim-Muslim ticket in 2015 are seen today to be championing the cause. Even more perplexing is the dismissal by some of these supporters of issues of religious affiliation (of the running mate) as irrelevant. 

As the elite slug it out, they keep deliberately involving the masses whose minds have, over time, fallen victim of their manipulative conditioning. As a result, the Christian establishment and followership, especially in the North demand uncompromisingly that the VP be picked amongst their brethren. While the northern Muslim establishment and followership in the usual feeling of mutual insecurity and distrust have threatened to actively oppose a ticket with a northern Christian as VP. 

It sadly almost seems as though whoever clinches the VP slot officially and institutionally enhances the presence and validity of the religion he belongs to. But is that accurate? How is a peasant Muslim farmer going to be better off with a Muslim as VP? And how’s the Christian peasant farmer in the opposite situation? What of security? Buhari is president yet the North suffers from insecurity the most. What of justice? 

This conflict is largely an in-house northern conflict. And we’ve consistently been falling victim to these manipulative tendencies because we’ve failed to understand certain political and social realities. But the most important among such realities is the glaring yet often forgotten fact that the allegiance of almost every elite in Nigeria is more to the power superstructure than it is to religion.

And it is high time we understood that it is never about religion but about power and the spoils that accompany its acquisition. The Muslim community should also be able to distinguish between manipulation and genuine allegiance to religious interest. 

Our collective problems as the North do not respect such bifurcations same way the results of incompetence of both Muslim and Christian political leaders of northern extraction do not too. And good and ethical leadership are not exclusive preserves of any of the two religions. In fact, there’s a strong convergence of both religions on issues of political values, leadership ethics and principles of good governance. Insecurity; poverty; economic underdevelopment; inefficient educational and healthcare systems; infrastructural inadequacies; etc are our collective challenges and our collective resolve should be of getting competent leaders to reverse the situation.

To these manipulative elites, religion is only but an agency for the sustenance of relevance and power for self-aggrandizement. We must rise above such manipulative machinations and focus on building a formidable consensus capable of enforcing on the leadership a Northern agenda for development regardless of who becomes VP. 

Abdulhaleem Ishaq Ringim wrote from Zaria and can be reached via haleemabdul1999@gmail.com

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