The Northern Christian in Nigeria has the slimmest chance of becoming a President or Vice President in Nigeria of today. This is not because of the reality of political strengths on ground but because of an undesirable perception which the Northern Christians, out of their own political docility, have foisted on themselves. In most sectors of the Nigerian national life, the Northern Christians have excelled, but when it comes to the issue of political power, the Northern Christians have failed woefully. When Nigeria got their independence, we talk about Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe (South-East), Chief Obafemi Awolowo (South-West), Sir Ahmadu Bello (North-West) and Sir Tafawa Balewa (North-East). This automatically creates the impression that the North are predominantly Muslims, while the South are predominantly Christians. We are fighting for equity and justice in Nigeria because this is what will preserve the unity of this country. I have supported the election of two Fulani Northern Muslims for President since 1999 in the persons of Yar Adua and Buhari, even when it was not popular among my people to do so, and will probably support more in future when time and equity demand, but will not hesitate to object when it will amount to injustice and a threat to our unity to allow same to happen.
At the amalgamation of the country by the British, the Northern Christians were recruited in the civil service and more especially in the army. There was no inclination that in the political history of Nigeria, the army will ever be allowed to take over power. This is because, Britain that colonised Nigeria, is a democratic country with a particular irritation to military regimes and dictatorships. The army was left for the Northern Christians and predominantly for the children of the Muslim talakawa. The army then was meant to serve the political leaders who by virtue of indirect rule, introduced by the British, fell on the Emirs in the North and on the traditional rulers in the South, thereby once more creating the impression that Nigeria is divided into the Muslim North and the Christian South, as majority of the Emirs were Muslims why majority of the traditional rulers in the South were Christians and of course Traditionalists.
This was why after the unconventional 1966 coup that toppled the first democratic regime in Nigeria, and the counter coup in 1966 that toppled the first military regime in Nigeria, the unexpected and unanticipated beneficiaries became the Northern Christians. General Yakubu Gowon, a Christian from Plateau State, became Head of State for nine years. What was intended to make Northern Christians servants miraculously turned out in their favour and made them rulers. The Northern Christians were so powerful that nothing could succeed in Nigeria without them. It was the Northern Christians that overthrew Gowon and installed Murtala Mohammed, a Muslim. It was the Northern Christians that removed Murtala Mohammed just six months after and installed Obasanjo. There was no Northern Muslim in the highest hierarchy of the military that prompted Obasanjo to double promote Shehu Musa Yar Adua above his Northern Christian colleagues to be able to represent the interests of the Muslim North. The next to Obasanjo in the army was Theophilus Danjuma, a Northern Christian from Taraba.
It was unfortunate that rather than use that great opportunity to build their people in all spheres of national life, they were busy fighting for power against each other and ended up destroying their finest officers in the Nigeria Army. General Joe Garba from Plateau led the coup that overthrew Gowon while Dimka led the unsuccessful coup that killed Murtala Mohammed. Obasanjo and Danjuma both Christians led the trial and conviction of the finest crop of military officers from the North-Central that were implicated in the murder of Murtala Mohammed. From the Minister of Defence, Bissalla, to the Governor of Plateau-Benue State, Gomwalk and to many others, they were all killed. Where do you blame Northern Muslims in this? Nowhere! Whenever Northern Muslims have the opportunity in our political dispensation, they united and encouraged their own people to win, but when the Northern Christians had their own chance in military leadership, they got disunited and destroyed themselves. Most times we are the harbingers of our own disasters but we are always quick to blame others. They destroyed themselves so much in the army that when military regime came back in 1983 through Muhammadu Buhari, no Northern Christian was among the first eleven. Buhari was taken out by Babangida, who gave power to Shonekan, who stepped down for Abacha and who was succeeded by Abdulsalami Abubakar after death.
Today, the impression that the North belongs to Muslims and the South belongs to Christians have become so entrenched in the psyche of the average citizen and outside world that since the inception of our nascent democracy in 1999, no Northern Christian has been President or Vice President and unless something is done immediately to arrest this trajectory, their political destiny is very gloomy in Nigeria because of this erroneous impression. Yes, it is erroneous because the Christians are almost the same population like the Muslims in the North or slightly smaller or slightly larger than Muslims in the North. Just for a random sampling, there are 19 States in the North and the Federal Capital Territory. Christians have more than 80% population in Benue, Plateau and Taraba. They have between 60% – 70% of the population in Adamawa State. About 50% of the population in Kogi and Kwara States. About 60% – 70% in Nasarawa State. About 30% – 40% of the population in Niger State. About an average of 30% of the population in Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe and Borno States and 40% – 45% of the population in Kaduna State, about 25% – 30% of the population in Kano State, about an average of 25% of the population in Sokoto, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi and Zamfara States. About 65% of the population in the Federal Capital Territory. Combined with the Christians in the South, the Christians are the largest voting bloc in Nigeria. To buttress this, the number of Christian Governors are always more in number at any time in history than that of other religions with very few exceptions. In addition to this population advantage, the churches whose founders are Northern Christians are some of the richest in Nigeria today. Talk of Living Faith, Dunnamis etc, too many to mention with the largest church auditoriums on earth, coupled with ardent dedicated parishioners, their founders are from the North, yet Northern Christians are last politically. The fault is no longer in their God or stars but in them. God cannot come down from heaven to do for you what He has given you power to do yourself.
It is unfortunate that with these statistics which obviously favours the Northern Christians, they still have the slimmest chances to become President or Vice in Nigeria. The reason is simple. Presidential power has been agreed, whether conventionally or constitutionally, to rotate between North and South. Having allowed the false narrative that the North is dominated by Muslims to stick, any time presidential power is going to North, citizens will gravitate around a Northern Muslim to win and anytime presidential power is moving South, citizens will gravitate around a Southern Christian to win. It has been like that since 1999. The slimmest chance then for a Northern Christian to become a Vice President is when a Southern Muslim emerges in any political party. From being the Vice-President, they can now proceed to take a shot at the post of President.
It is unfortunate and very disheartening that even when a Southern Muslim emerged in a ruling party as the presidential candidate, he still did not consider any Northern Christian qualified to be his Vice-President. He said initially that the Northern Christians were not competent to be his Vice and when he discovered that the Northern Christians found that offensive, he changed and is now saying that his decision was simply a winning strategy, meaning in essence that Northern Christians are politically worthless for any Nigerian politician that wants to win presidential elections. What a humiliation and insult? This decision he took, despite the forewarning by the Christian Association of Nigeria CAN and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria PFN to desist from such a humiliating adventure. He took that decision because he must have believed that Christians are purchasable and can sell their birthright for pot of porridge but the Muslims will never do that. So he took the gamble, trusting in his stupendous wealth, to sail him through. But was he not right when he made that assumption? Recently, he summoned Christian Bishops from the North to a meeting, after the failed attempt of using fake Bishops to carry on his campaign, where it was exposed that some of the Bishops collected money from him. Do you think if it were a Christian-Christian presidential ticket, that any serious Imam would have honoured any invitation to attend at all? Bola Tinubu told them to their faces that he chose a Muslim as a winning strategy, thereby driving it home to their faces that they are politically dead for any serious politician who wishes to win a presidential election to pair with them, yet they collected his money.
Truth is that the election of 2023 is an existential threat to the political viability of the Northern Christians if they don’t fight this as if their lives depend on it. It is important to note that all the appointments of which they are complaining of marginalization were made when a Northern Muslim was President and a Southern Christian was Vice President as no same-faith ticket has ever governed Nigeria democratically and the only time they were de-marginalised were periods when there’s a Southern Christian President and a Northern Vice-President. This is because of the overwhelming power of the President in the scheme of things in Nigeria. When Obasanjo was in power, he made appointments in the North based on merit which brought about equity between the Muslims and Christians for the first time in the political equation of the North. So voting for another Northern Muslim to succeed another Muslim for a continuous uninterrupted time of 16 years is as deadly for the Northern Christian as a Muslim-Muslim ticket. Muslims or Christians have never governed Nigeria for an uninterrupted period of 16 years. The Northern Christians must take their destiny in their hands and reject in its entirety the notion of same-faith ticket in present day Nigeria and also the idea of a Northern Muslim succeeding another Northern Muslim in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society. Any contrary idea to this will wipe them out in the political equation of Nigeria and they will have only themselves to blame for this.