From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Former Secretary of the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, has declared that the 2023 elections will be all about religion started by the All Progressives Congress (APC), insisting that the ruling party will pay heavily for its choice of Muslim- Muslim ticket.
Lawal spoke at a summit organised by APC Northern Christians Leaders Summit with the theme, “Righteousness Exalts A Nation, but sin IA a reproach to any people”, on Friday.
According to Lawal, for the APC, a Muslim-Muslim ticket has been a longterm political strategy and not a one-off decision, stressing that this is a calculated anti-Christian exclusion agenda that is being implemented.
He further stressed that Christians didn’t start religious politics, APC did, vowing that the ruling party should be ready for the consequences of a same faith ticket in 2023.
According to him, blaming Christians and heaping insults on Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) will not get APC anywhere.
He said “the PVC and prayers will be our weapon of choice and we will mercifully deploy them in 2023.”
The former SGF said that the agenda of Muslim-Muslim ticket is just unfolding and assuring that Christians will resist it.
Lawal said:”Our opposition has some historical basis. There were times in the past when Christians produced the Deputy Governors in Kebbi, Niger and Kaduna States. Now it is wholly Muslim-Muslim tickets. It is worth noting that all these are happening in APC-controlled states. They are threatening to do likewise in Gombe, Kogi and Adamawa States.
“It is also now a recurring practice in the north whereby any Christian traditional ruler that dies is replaced with a Muslim prince albeit from the ruling family even if the most qualified and preferred prince is a Christian. The recent case of Billiri Chiefdom in Gombe State is still fresh in our minds.
“Proof of its anti-Christian agenda is that our party itself has completely eliminated northern Christians from its National Working Committee (NWC) and National Executive Council (NEC). All our protestations as party members have been completely ignored by the party leadership. But as members of the APC, we have the right to continue to express our indignation at these happenings and will not give up until we secure the justice that is due us.”
He stated further: “Implied in this ticket is the insinuation that northern Muslims are not willing to vote for a ticket that has a Christian on it and on which they are not represented. It is our believe that northern Muslims would have seen the Justice in a Muslim-Christian ticket and would have given it their overwhelming support had the party been inclined to do so.
“A corollary to this mindset is that Christian’s should also not vote for a ticket in which they are not accommodated. Unfortunately, this is the message we get loud and clear from this Muslim Muslim ticket. This is truly a wake up call for all Nigerian Christians. We didn’t start this religious politics, APC and it’s candidates did; so all of us should take note and act as appropriate.
“So our dear APC colleagues, spare us these sanctimonious lectures on “competence” and the cliche “religion of the candidates do not matter. The truth is that the 2023 presidential election will be all about religion, and sadly, you started it; religion does matter in this context so be ready for the consequences.
“…On our part, we neither seek to oppress nor dominate any one or any religion. But we will also resist any one trying to discriminate against us and our religion. We were not the ones that started this fight. The APC started it and must be ready to carry the cross it has created. Blaming Christian’s and heaping insults on CAN will take them no where.”
Lawal further stated: “Clearly, there is an agenda to politically, religiously, and economically suppress and oppress the Northern Christian. But we are up to the task. We will protect ourselves. The PVC and our prayers will be our weapons of choice and we will massively deploy them in 2023.”
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, who was the keynote speaker, said the opposition against Muslim-Muslim ticket is not something personal against the candidates of the ruling party but it is all about justice and the unity of Nigeria.
“When we talk about a Muslim-Muslim ticket; God forbid that we should be understood to be objecting to Muslims or that we don’t want Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to be president. It is not about Senator Kashim Shettima either, but it about what is right and what is wrong. It is about justice, fairness and equity. It is about Nigeria; it’s diversity and how it can be harnessed in an inclusive manner for the greater good of all of us. Be that as it may, some of us really wanted Asiwaju to be president because he has sacrificed much for our Party, the APC and for what he represents to so many people. So, our position cannot be against Muslims or Islam. That fact cannot be denied in any way.
“In 2015, when we were called “janjeweed party”, my response was usually very simple. I could then say that, HE John Oyegun was the chairman of my party and my Vice-Presidential candidate was Pastor Yemi Osinbajo. We don’t enjoy that luxury anymore as the President, Senate President, Speaker and his deputy; Senate and House Leaders; National Chairman and the Deputy National Chairman; Presidential and the Vice-Presidential candidates are all Muslims, leaving the Christians with just the position of VP Osibanjo and Deputy Senate President Omo-Agege at that level in a Country whose population is fairly split between Muslims and Christians.
“Granted this scenario, can any God-fearing Muslim, Christian nay even the amoral and the atheist say this is fair, just and righteous? Does this represent the act of a just God? This is the real context of objections from the Christian community not just the Presidential ticket and the VP slot.”