A few days ago on July 10 precisely, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), unveiled his running mate.
His name is Kashim Shetima, former governor of Borno State. He is not only a Muslim but has a long history of romance with Boko Haram if the reports in the media are anything to go by.
But Tinubu’s media handlers debunked that credential. They quickly dug out a five-year-old interview with the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Borno State, Mohammed Naga.
In the interview, Naga praised Shetima to the heavens and credited him with giving the victims of Boko Haram insurgents a sum of N10 million on two different occasions.
Naga also said Shetima sponsored more Christians to Jerusalem than any other governor in the history of the state.
The interview was dressed as a recent chat. And it went viral. Naga has since confirmed it’s an old interview. He said he never granted a fresh interview since Tinubu chose Shetima as his running mate.
But then anybody familiar with the way these things work would not be carried away by Shetima’s gesture to the Christian community. That has been the trend. They give you the stick and follow it up with the carrot.
If Shetima was the best thing that happened to Borno State according to the CAN chairman, what would he say about the current governor of Borno State, Prof Babagana Zulum who has also been praised by many Nigerians?
Meanwhile, Borno is in the same region where a CAN LG chairman was beheaded two years ago and many lives have consistently been lost to insurgents.
Shetima: His Boko Haram antecedent
For those who have a short memory, it is important to remind us that Shetima was accused by WAEC of causing the kidnap of the Chibok girls in 2014. He and the governors of Adamawa and Yobe refused to heed the advice to relocate students writing WAEC that year. They had promised the examination body of adequate security only for the students to be kidnapped in the course of the exams.
Shetima sought amnesty consistently for Boko Haram. When he was sworn in as governor of the state in 2015 for a second term, he said he would be willing to rehabilitate repentant Boko Haram. It is that rehabilitation that has indirectly fueled the insurgency.
President Mohamammudu Buhari was also at the forefront of fighting for the rights of Boko Haram. That was years before he became Nigeria’s civilian president. While people are being killed by insurgents, the government is busy dressing and pampering them.
Those who allegedly repented are being absolved into the system. Some have allegedly joined the army only for them to continue to unleash terror on hapless citizens.
All these pieces of information are available on the internet for people keen on knowing the truth.
The emilokan (it is my turn) ambition
The issue now is that the presidential candidate of a party feels only a man who shares the same faith with him can deliver his emilokan (it is my turn) ambition.
In the first place, it is strange people are kicking against Tinubu’s choice. It seems it is already taken for granted that he will be the next president of Nigeria. If not, there won’t be this hue and cry over the choice of his running mate.
Those against Tinubu’s choice should realise that what is sacrosanct in any democratic setting is the desire to win elections. Party presidential candidates will go for any running mate they think will help them clinch the presidency. So if he thinks a Shetima would do that for him, he has all the right to go for him
His decision however is pregnant. What Tinubu is saying is that there are no Christians in the North who has the political credential that will deliver the north for him. And he is also saying, “I don’t care. I do not need your vote if you don’t agree with the choice of Shetima as my running mate, vote for other candidates who meet your expectation.”
Tinubu has a right to his choice
So in whichever way we look at it, the buck stops at the table of the APC candidate. And it is also at the table of the electorates. While people have a right to complain about Tinubu’s running mate, there is nothing anybody can do about it. He has made his choice and many people including some Christians are with him in the decision.
What is worrisome however is that some of the Christians who are rooting for him have taken a step further to rub it in the face of the public. They have made public statements like: “I am a Christian, a member of RCCG, A deacon. And I will vote for Tinubu.”
Such statements have only demonstrated that such Christians think low of themselves. In the first place, nobody can stop anybody from making decisions on who to vote for. So Christians who come out to say they are Christians and will vote for Tinubu have only displayed an inferiority complex. It is an indication such Christians feel they have no right to candidates of their choice in the first place.
God respects our choices
God, despite His greatness, will not tamper with our choices. He did not tamper with the choice of Adam in the garden. But then, we must be ready to face the consequences of our choice.
We are in danger today because of the choice majority made in 2015 and 2019. But then our political decision should not be premised on the fact that we are Christians only, it should be on the basis of our humanity and by extension that we are Nigerians who have a right to choose. Our faith is crucial too but not in the sense we are parading it.
Throwing only our faith in the public space has its implication. It will seem to suggest that our decision is based on a narrow consideration which in a real sense is not. But even at that, we can’t run away from using religion as a yardstick for making the decision on who to vote for especially giving the experience in Nigeria in the last seven years.
The impunity and downright persecution of Christians in the North are grave. Nobody who has relatives who have been victims of insurgents will entertain the thought of voting for another character from the ruling party that may likely be sympathetic to the cause of Islamic fundamentalists.
But the eagerness of some foot soldiers to please their master has led them to make some ludicrous statements that impinge on their humanity and their right to choose.
Tinubu on his part has made his choice. In making that colourless decision, he has inadvertently placed his own neck in the guillotine. Nigerians who are not comfortable with his decision should do the needful with their PVC.
Beware of their dummy
They tell you he is a liberal Muslim, which is true. They tell you he is married to a Pastor in RCCG, which is true. That was the same dummy they sold to us in 2015 with the Buhari/Osinbajo candidacy. The implication of the 2015 decision is what we are still grappling with.
That said, crying over the choice of Tinubu really does not make any sense. What will make sense is if the Church puts itself together and work at institutionalising integrity and probity. Rather than make noise over the choice of Shetima as Tinubu’s running mate, the church should go to work.
We must not think that the presidency will fall into the laps of our preferred candidate without doing the work that will lead to that. God is a God of justice. While he reigns in the affairs of men and would be willing to have a man of his own heart in government, he is also a God of due process.
Despite the fact that God had anointed David to take over from Saul, David still had to wait. It was after the death of Saul that David ascended the throne. That is due process. Those who are rooting for the Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi should realise that it is not enough to mouth support for him. They should go all out and lend all the support they can to their preferred candidate.
The church is divided politically
Already the church is divided. There are Christians who, based on personal conviction and considerations will vote for the APC Muslim Muslim ticket. It is their choice. And you can’t begrudge them.
But those who think a Muslim-Muslim ticket will spell doom for us as a nation should get to work. They should get their PVCs, and campaign for the other candidates they think will deliver their interest. The battlefield is election day and not on social media or complaining.
We have suffered too much in the last seven years. In 2015 there was so much outcry against the present government but some Church leaders were at the vanguard of foisting Buhari on Nigeria. We have seen the implication of the 2015 decision. Even the blind and the deaf see and hear the horror in Nigeria.
There is perhaps no day that lives are not lost to insurgents and people are not kidnapped. And the government has been tardy in its response.
The indifferent General
While it is easy to say there is trouble everywhere in the world, it is annoying that a retired General in the Army has remained indifferent to what is going on in his country despite being the president. Not even an official has been sacked in connection with the recent Kuje jail break. The president talks just like any other citizen that has no power.
He has been described as a president who wakes up, sleeps, travels and expresses shock. There is no emotion around him. No sense of urgency. He only desired to lead Nigeria and the desire has materialised . Any other thing has no relevance. He recently told the world he is eager to quit the presidency. What a leader!
The Sunday Adelaja article
Already, Tinubu has gone to work to fulfil his emilokan ambition. A number of his media handlers are on the loose. They are justifying his decision and recruiting supporters for him. The latest of such support is an article credited to Pastor Sunday Adelaja who was one of those who canvassed the Buhari presidency.
The article is presently making the round. Adelaja’s argument is that Tinubu made a lot of progress when he was governor in Lagos and so should be given a chance to rule Nigeria.
The truth which he failed to tell in that long piece is that anybody can run Lagos well given the length of time Tinubu was governor and the enormous resources in the state.
There was perhaps no Lagos governor that did not perform relatively well. Those who did not make any landmark showing like Michael Otedola, Raji Rasaki and Olagunsoye Oyinlola were perhaps constrained by time or lucked in by crass ineptitude.
Right from the first republic, Lagos has always had great and fantastic leaders. We all praised Lateef Jakande for his giant strides in Lagos. No governor has beaten his record so far. We praised Gbolahan Mudashiru. who made exploits in his two-year stay in power. Mike Akhigbe also did well as military governor between 1986 and 1988. Buba Marwa earned the respect of Lagosians when he was there for three years (1996-1999)
These were governors outside the APC purview. Lagos is potentially a great state and it is even clear that the potential of the state is not being maximised.
Weigh the claims of the parties
The point is, while they try to sway people to consider their candidate(s) for the 2023 polls, Nigerians need to weigh their claims. In 2015 and 2019 they lied to many Nigerians.
If their lies succeed this time round, we have nobody to blame but ourselves. God already gave us the brain and capacity to make a choice. He won’t come down to make the choice for us.
By Gbenga Osinaike