The euphoria concerning selection of showtime reached a crescendo last week. The drama however involved the full (or paid) participation of thirty Nigeria Bishops, as announced by Shettima, or aspiring Bishops as explained by the Presidential candidate’s spokesperson. The entire programme, mix-up, and or drama was to convince doubting Thomases that the Christian fold, which is vast and differed in political opinions is not totally against the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the ruling party. Truth remains that it was needless for the party to engage in such drama. Any political party that wishes to win elections has the sole responsibility of choosing their winning team, and should be ready at any time to face the consequences of their choice. If that be the case, then why the hullabaloo about who the APC as a confident party had chosen to hoist their flag, and occupy the villa that even President Muhammadu Buhari is eager to relinquish and return to his quiet life, and home on the range?
There could be many reasons. In the first instance, if a segment of the nation, or a group that believes that they could contribute immensely to the success of the political party are making demands, then it is plausible that they believe in the ideals of that political party. The CAN therefore may be indirectly telling the APC candidate that they are ready to support his emergence as the next President of Nigeria, and are more than willing to mobilize their members to vote for the party. In other words, despite the observed shortcomings of the party in government, CAN and other aggrieved members of the society over the Muslim-Muslim ticket may have concluded that ‘the devil you know, is better than an unknown angel’ and that ‘a bird in hand is worth more than two in the bush’.
Especially given the non ideological idiosyncracies of the political parties in Nigeria, and having tasted of the broth of corruption of the PDP in its sixteen years rule, and the attendant outcomes, the ‘Christians’ must have decided to pitch their tent with a party that seemed to know where it is heading for. If that be the case, then it is neither new nor derogatory that CAN being a stakeholder in the nation would negotiate for most appropriate representation in government. Thus, asking for the position of the Vice-President, (having allowed the party to present a Muslim to succeed another Muslim) is not too much to ask. In political bargaining, what CAN would have brought to the bargaining table are enough ‘merchandise’ to procure the positions sought for. If CAN and other aggrieved Christians had assured the mobilisation of the more than 47% of the entire population to vote for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the bargain was full proof, getting the Vice President’s slot and other ‘powerful and juicy’ positions in the APC would have been easy and certified. The Christian society needed to understand that this was the underlining factor that produced Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The Redeemed Christian Church of God’s numerical strength, and the persuasive influence of Daddy Adeboye, the General Overseer, contributed in no small measure to President Muhammadu Buhari’s two term electoral victories.
If the Christian community can influence such a high percentage of voters, then why is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (BAT) ‘slapping’ them with his unrepentant Muslim-Muslim ticket. In the first instance, one could conclude that the APC and BAT did not accept CAN’s agitation as the agitation of all Christians, especially when some Christians can desecrate the Bishops’ apparel to smirk the orthodox Christian leaders. So if CAN is truly an opposition party, there could be no room for the opposition in a non-inclusive government. Furthermore, BAT and the APC, based on previous statistics, could have concluded that the votes that CAN and other aggrieved Christians could have garnered would have little or no effect in their victory. In other words, the belief would be that a Muslim-Muslim ticket would garner a tsunami of votes that would sweep away the opposition and usher in the APC candidate in a landslide victory. Therefore, despite the threats of CAN, BAT does not consider them as lepers who though may not contribute to the making of the cheese, can also make it inedible and unprofitable. Simply put, the perception is that CAN and the ranting Christians cannot in any way mobilize enough voters to ensure the failure of APC at the polls. The onus is therefore on CAN and the agitators of the Muslim-Christian to prove them wrong.
However, CAN’s insistence on a Muslim-Christian ticket may not be borne out of the belief that victory is assured on a fair ground to the APC. Their agitations may be a product of the belief that by all indications, irrespective of perceived abysmal performance of the ruling party, they would still do all things possible to ensure that they remain in power. The thought, that INEC materials would be lodged in the vaults of the CBN, when the Governor is a card carrying member of APC; the use of NURTW buses most of whose members are supporters of the APC; the poverty in the land that may promote large scale vote selling; and the Federal Government’s control of the security personnel of the nation; could have fueled this unscientific perception.
If in truth, there is a perfected programme for the rigging of elections, irrespective of the results of the Osun gubernatorial elections, then CAN’s fear of restricted participation in the corridors of power could be justified. Save for this foreboding fear of an opaque election, CAN and the other aggrieved members of the society on the Muslim-Muslim ticket would have chanted ‘to your tents , O Israel’. It should have been easier to mobilize members and sympathetic followers to cast their votes to a more favourable party whose choice of candidates conform to the non ‘Islamisation’ policy of the APC led administration. A free and fair election therefore would have been the ‘VAR’ in the 2023 ‘match’ for the ultimate political prize.
Truth be told however, that the decision and or indecision of a political party is to the advantage or otherwise of her contenders in the quest for power. In a winners-take-it-all political contest, underrating the opponent is not only foolish but also devastating. The Osun election has revealed that it is better to make amends than to match ahead. When fears are voiced in a political system, such must not be waved aside. Winning elections is not the ultimate end, but ruling over a united and peaceful political system is. This was what Jonathan Goodluck realized before accepting defeat in 2015, and this Babangida did not comprehend before dashing the hope of the people in 1993. Nigeria’s well being is more important than religious dogmatism, but we also must realize that religion has played vital roles in the current situation of the country, both positively and negatively. This is not the time to mock the agitations and demands of any group, no matter how small they may be. This is the time to negotiate and agree on many issues on that which may disintegrate this nation. Let not he who holds the ace forget that there are three other aces to be acquired, and let not he whose face has been slapped return an eye for an eye. It is the time to mend fences, and not pour salt into injuries. To all Nigerians, do not just get your PVCs, but also troop out en masse to vote for the candidates and parties that you believe can give us light in this darkness. Remember that the voice of the people is the voice of God.