A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, has warned the party leadership against presenting Muslims as both its presidential and vice-presidential candidates in the 2015 general elections, saying doing so would make the party lose the elections “woefully”.
Mr. Fani-Kayode made this known in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday.
His statement might be confirmation of a report by a national daily that APC had settled on former military Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) and former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as its presidential and vice-presidential candidates respectively for the polls next year, citing their political value as reason for purportedly picking them.
While Buhari is seen as a hardline Muslim, Tinubu is considered to be a liberal Muslim. This, the APC strategists, according to the report, should swing Christian votes in their favor as they have nothing to fear.
But the former minister declared: “I have said it privately in countless political meetings and I will say it publicly today. Please mark it – the biggest mistake that my party, the APC, can make is to field a Muslim/Muslim ticket in the 2015 Presidential election. If we do that we will not only offend the Christian community, but we will also lose the election woefully”.
He warned that it would be foolhardy for the APC to assume what happened in the 1993 presidential elections, where the Social Democratic Party, SDP, fielded M.K.O Abiola and Baba Gana Kingibe – both of them staunch Muslims – and still cruised to a landslide victory in the annulled election.
Likewise, the APC chieftain said it would be wrong also to field an all-Christian ticket for the polls.
“This is not 1993 and whether we like it or not we must accept the fact that religion plays a major role in our politics today”, Mr. Fani-Kayode said.
He added, “Our party must have both a Christian and a Muslim on the ticket if we want to be taken seriously in the Presidential election. I implore those that think otherwise to sit down and think this through properly”.
Mr. Fani-Kayode further argued that presenting a Christian/Christian ticket would be as insensitive to the feelings of Muslims as an all Muslim ticket would be insensitive to the feelings of Christians.
“I for one would never support a ticket that presents two members of the same faith no matter what the consequences would be.
“This country belongs to both Muslims and Christians- we are all one and we must ensure that we do not hurt the feelings or the sensitivities of one another either advertently or inadvertently. As they say ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’.
“Let us be mindful of our actions, deeds and words, no matter how well-intentioned they may be, and let us ensure that we do not confirm the terrible stereotyping that those that are against us are trying to label us with.
“The APC is the only hope for Nigeria. Let us not mess it up by making the wrong choices. A word is enough for the wise”, he concluded.