The Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) has warned political parties against presenting a Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket ahead of the forthcoming 2023 general elections.
This was made known in a statement jointly signed on Tuesday by the Secretary-General of CSN, Very Rev. Fr. Zacharia Nyantiso Samjumi and the Director, Social Communications, Very Rev. Fr. Michael Nsikak Umoh, and made available to SaharaReporters.
The organisation explained that “with the present glaring crisis and division in the nation, a Muslim-Muslim ticket would be most insensitive and a tacit endorsement of the negative voices of many non-state actors who have been threatening this nation’s unity and peaceful coexistence without an arrest.”
After tough battles that produced their respective flag bearers, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been racing against time to pick their presidential running mates ahead of Friday’s deadline handed down by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
While Atiku has already constituted a committee to complement his own effort in the search for a running mate, Tinubu is continuing consultations with groups and individuals for advice. Hence, there have been indications that the former Lagos State Governor might settle for a Muslim candidate from the Northern region of the country.
While stating that a single faith ticket is not entirely bad —it is not against democratic principle, the CSN is of the view that such an arrangement may be a disaster for the current situation of the country.
The statement reads in part, “The process for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria has been initiated, and there are some things to be happy about: the passing of the Electoral Act 2022, which allows the use of electronic devices for accreditation and in the capturing and transmission of results; the prompt release of election timetable by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); the renewed confidence in the electoral process by the electorate, as demonstrated in the massive last minute turn out for voter registration amongst others.
“It is, however, disheartening to observe that the conduct of most of our politicians seems to be going from bad to worse as we witnessed a show of shame and heightened ugly culture of money politics during the recently held primaries.
“While all this is going on, we must not lose sight of the fact that the unity of this country has, over the years, been maintained by a delicate balancing of the religious and the regional.
“Even in the despotic military era, most juntas ensured a balance of the religious architecture in their regimes. For instance, we had Murtala-Obasanjo, Obasanjo-Yar’adua, Babangida-Ebitu Ukiwe, Abacha Diya. This also applied to the heads of the various military formations and the different government parastatals like Customs, Immigrations, Finance, etc.
“Significantly, it was only during the General Muhammadu Buhari era as military Head of State (31 Dec. 1983-27 Aug. 1985) that we had a Muslim-Muslim military dictatorship. 7. Similarly, only once did we have a Muslim-Muslim ticket in the 1993 democratic elections, which featured Abiola-Kingibe ticket and turned out to be one of Nigeria’s freest and fairest elections. But that government never took off,
“Fast forward to 2022, 30 years later, some individuals have tried to suggest the Muslim-Muslim ticket for the Presidential election in a country like Nigeria that has unfortunately been badly polarised. Ordinarily, there would have been nothing wrong with a Muslim Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket in a democratic dispensation if there is mutual trust and respect for the human person and where the overriding desire for seeking political office is the fostering of the common good. But one cannot really say so of our country at the moment.
“With the present glaring crisis and division in the nation, a Muslim-Muslim ticket would be most insensitive and a tacit endorsement of the negative voices of many non-state actors who have been threatening this nation’s unity and peaceful coexistence without an arrest.
“Going by the Kaduna experience, we can perceive the havoc the Muslim-Muslim ticket has brought upon the predominantly Christian people of Southern Kaduna.
“We, therefore, strongly advise those political parties toying with divisive agenda to have a rethink by presenting a more inclusive ticket, while 2 of 3 on all people of goodwill to resist this budding injustice that may be hatched against a cross section of the people,” the group added.