FACT CHECK: Buhari not first to introduce same faith leadership in Nigeria | Dailytrust

FACT CHECK: Buhari not first to introduce same faith leadership in Nigeria

BISHOP KUKAH 1-7.  ; President Muhammadu Buhari receives the  Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, BISHOP. Mathew Hassan Kukah in his office at the State House Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE. OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT. AUGUST 27 2015.
BISHOP KUKAH 1-7. ; President Muhammadu Buhari receives the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, BISHOP. Mathew Hassan Kukah in his office at the State House Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE. OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT. AUGUST 27 2015.

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Mathew Kukah, has said the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) can be traced to President Muhammadu Buhari when he was Military Head of State.

Bishop Kukah stated this when he appeared on “Politics Today”, a programme on Channels Television on Thursday, to discuss the state of the nation ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Verdict: FALSE

Full Text: Kukah, during the television programme, said Buhari started the controversial arrangement in 1983 when he took another Muslim, late Major General Tunde Idiagbon, as his deputy.

He said: “As a Christian, I feel very proud of the role that we have played in managing diversity and managing politics in Nigeria.
“In 1983, when Buhari came in as head of state, he took Tunde Idiagbon as his deputy.

“In 1993 that you were talking about… I think Nigerians have gotten to a point like we had under Abacha, where we did whatever is required to get the military out. We’re going to do it. I think we have exaggerated our interpretation of what happened in 1993. Because we always have this dubious interpretation that this is evidence that Nigerians don’t care about religion.

“Maybe that was what was illustrated, but moving forward, the question I’m asking my friends who are Muslims and it is a very simple question, especially those of us who are
from northern Nigeria, will Muslims in Nigeria or Northern Nigeria be ready to make the same concession that Christians made in 1984, in 1993, and they have now been asked to make the same concession?

“You have to understand this against the backdrop of what has happened to this country in the last seven years. You know, when you look at the squandered opportunities; when you look at the way power has been distributed, when you look at the way this government has allocated opportunities in the broad spectrum of Nigeria against the wider backdrop of the crisis that we’re in now, ordinarily, the least we should be talking about is whether our next president is going to be a Christian or a Muslim,” Bishop Kukah had said.

Verification: In verifying Bishop Kukah’s claim, Daily Trust traced the origin of same faith rule/regime to the military era and found out that although from 1983 to 1985 President Muhammadu Buhari had a Muslim deputy in the person of the late Maj. Gen. Babatunde Idiagbon, he was not the first person that introduced the faith ticket as previous military regimes practised same faith ticket.

Subsequently, Daily Trust checks found that during the previous military regimes of the late Major Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi and General Yakubu Gowon, both military men had Christian
deputies in the persons of the late Brigadier General Babafemi Ogundipe and Vice Admiral Joseph Edet Wey. They were both Christians.

Aguiyi Ironsi – Ogundipe era (January – July 1966)

Late Major General Johnson Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi, a Christian, hailed from Umuahia- Ibeku, in present-day Abia State,
South East Nigeria. Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi, the first military head of state joined the Nigerian Army in 1942 and received military training in the UK, Aguiyi-Ironsi headed the Nigerian contingent during the post-independence conflicts in Congo (Kinshasa) in the 1960s, becoming (1963) commander of the United Nations forces there. He was made head of the Nigerian Army in 1965. Following a military coup in January, 1966, in which President Nnamdi Azikiwe was deposed, Aguiyi-Ironsi became head of a military government.

He served only six months before being assassinated in another coup. During his short term in office, Aguiyi-Ironsi suspended much of the constitution, and also removed certain restrictions on freedom of the press and attempted to unify the country’s foreign policy.

He was succeeded by Yakubu Gowon as military head of state. During Ironsi’s military government, the late Brigadier General Babafemi Ogundipe, a Christian, was the de facto vice president of Nigeria. Ogundipe was from Ago- Iwoye, in present-day Ogun State in western Nigeria. He joined the Royal West African Frontier Force in 1941, and served in
Burma between 1942 and 1945.

He re-enlisted after the Second World War, and rose to the rank of Brigadier in May 1964. He served as the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Nigerian Defence Forces between January 1966 and August 1966. After the coup that overthrew Aguiyi-Ironsi, and following an agreement with the new military government led by Yakubu Gowon, he left
the country for the United Kingdom, where he attended the 1966 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting as Nigeria’s representative in September.

Thereafter, he took up appointment as Nigeria’s High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, a post he held until August 1970, when he left public service. He died in London in
November 1971.

Gowon – Wey era (1966-1975)

Yakubu ‘Jack’ Gowon, born on October 19, 1934, was the military head of state between 1966 and 1975.

As Head of State, Gowon presided over the Nigerian Civil War and delivered the famous “no victor, no vanquished” speech at the war’s end in an effort to promote healing and reconciliation. The Nigerian Civil War is listed as one of the deadliest in modern history.

An Anglican Christian from Plateau State, North Central Nigeria, Gowon is a nationalist and believer in the unity and oneness of the country. Gowon’s rise to power following the July 1966 countercoup cemented military rule in Nigeria. Gowon was the longest-serving head of state in Nigeria, ruling for almost nine years until his overthrow in the coup d’état of 1975 by Brigadier Murtala Ramat Muhammed.

During Gowon’s term in office, the late Vice Admiral Joseph Edet Akinwale Wey was his deputy and also served as Nigeria’s vice president. The Late Wey, a Nigerian naval officer, served at various times, as head of the Nigerian Navy, acting Foreign Minister, and Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters, making him the de facto vice president during
Gowon’s regime.

Born on March 6, 1918, Vice Admiral Wey was a Christian from Calabar, Eastern Region,(now Cross River, in the South-South).

Background

On July 10, 2022, two-term Lagos State governor and All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, announced a former governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, as his running mate ahead of next year’s general elections.

However, the announcement did not go down well with many Nigerians who queried the choice of a same-faith ticket on which Tinubu is running.

Both Tinubu and Shettima are Muslims. The former is from the South, while the latter is from the North.

However, in defending the choice of his running mate, Tinubu said it was taken after, rigorous consultations with stakeholders in the APC.

Tinubu pleaded that he was not being insensitive to the ethno-religious conflicts in the country but maintained that “Religion, ethnicity and region cannot always and fully determine our path. To forge ahead as a nation toward development and prosperity, we must break free of old binds.” He declared that the former Borno State governor was
chosen because of his impressive credentials.

“Senator Kasim Shettima’s career in politics and beyond shows that he is eminently qualified not only to deliver that all-important electoral victory, but also step into the shoes of the vice president,” he said.

Conclusion:

Daily Trust was able to establish that previous military regimes before that of President Buhari had same faith tickets. As such the claim by Bishop Kukah that President Buhari initiated the Muslim- Muslim ticket is FALSE.

This Fact Check is produced in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Development.

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