Northern Christian leaders in the All Progressives Congress on Friday called on Nigerians not to vote for any ticket that was not mixed between Christians and Muslims during the 2023 elections.
According to them, since the Muslim-Muslim ticket for the presidency was divisive, it must be rejected by all patriotic Nigerians.
They bared their minds during the APC Northern Christian Leaders Summit, with a declaration that the insinuation that Northern Muslims would not support a Christian running made was untrue and divisive.
Among the leaders who spoke during the event were a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal; former Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; former Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung; Senator Ishaku Abbo (Adamawa North) and several other Christian leaders in Northern Nigeria.
Lawal, who was also the chairman of the occasion, said colleagues within and outside the APC expressed shock over their reaction to the APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket in the 2023 general election, saying it was a grand conspiracy against the Northern Christians.
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The former SGF said, “Our opposition has some historical basis. There were times in the past when Christians produced the Deputy Governors in Kebbi, Niger and Kaduna states. Now, it is wholly Muslim-Muslim tickets.
“It is worth noting that all these are happening in the APC-controlled states. They are threatening to do likewise in Gombe, Kogi and Adamawa states.
“It is also now a recurring practice in the North whereby any Christian traditional ruler that dies is replaced with a Muslim Prince, albeit from the ruling family even if the most qualified and preferred prince is a Christian. The recent case of Billiri Chiefdom in Gombe State is still fresh in our minds.
“Proof of its anti-Christian agenda is that our party itself has completely eliminated Northern Christians from its NWC (National Working Committee) and NEC (National Executive Committee). All our protestations as party members have been completely ignored by the party leadership.
“But as members of the APC, we have the right to continue to express our indignation at these happenings and will not give up until we secure the justice that is due us.
“The main purpose of this historical narrative is to let you know that for the APC, a Muslim-Muslim ticket has been a long-term political strategy and not a one-off decision. Thus, all this talk of competence as the reason for the choice of the Muslim VP are balderdash and diversionary. This is a calculated anti-Christian exclusion agenda that is being implemented.
“We see this ticket as an assent to the current and continuing educational, economic and political marginalisation of the Northern Nigerian Christians.
“Christians all over the country see this MM ticket as a deliberate and premeditated attempt to introduce and firmly entrench religion into the politics of this country. This, of course, will lead to further disharmony in the hitherto fragile coexistence of the Nigerian society, disrupt peace and hamper both social and economic development of the country.
“Christians, and indeed most enlightened Nigerians are at a loss as to why people that intend to govern a country with our kind of diversity would choose this path to power. This is very divisive and must be rejected by all patriotic Nigerians.
“Implied in this ticket is the insinuation that Northern Muslims are not willing to vote for a ticket that has a Christian on it and on which they are not represented. It is our belief that northern Muslims would have seen the justice in a Muslim-Christian ticket and would have given it their overwhelming support had the party been inclined to do so.
“A corollary to this mindset is that Christians should also not vote for a ticket in which they are not accommodated. Unfortunately, this is the message we get loud and clear from this MM ticket. This is truly a wake-up call for all Nigerian Christians. We didn’t start this religious politics, the APC and its candidates did; so, all of us should take note and act as appropriate.”
While advising his APC colleagues to spare them the sanctimonious lectures on “competence” and the cliché “religion of the candidates does not matter”, Lawal added that, “The truth is that the 2023 presidential election will be all about religion, and sadly, you started it; religion does matter in this context; so be ready for the consequences”.
Lawal said, “It is important to reiterate that we Nigerian Christians want to live in peace and harmony with all practitioners of other religions. We want to enjoy social and economic developments like other parts of the world but without peace, justice and religious harmony, this is not possible.
“On our part, we neither seek to oppress nor dominate anyone or any religion. But we will also resist anyone trying to discriminate against us and our religion. We were not the ones that started this fight. The APC started it and must be ready to carry the cross it has created. Blaming Christians and heaping insults on CAN will take them nowhere.
“For, how do they expect Christians to keep silent when a northern state governor publicly states that they pressured (Bola) Tinubu to get a northern Muslim VP because they did not believe him to be a good Muslim? Is the VP going to be the National Deputy Imam? How do they expect us to keep silent when another northern state governor goes to Osun State and urges them to vote for someone just because he is a Muslim? Was he there for the election campaign or “dawah”? What can be a better example of religion in politics than demonstrated by these governors?
“Clearly, there is an agenda to politically, religiously, and economically suppress and oppress the Northern Christian. But we are up to the task. We will protect ourselves. The PVC and our prayers will be our weapons of choice and we will massively deploy them in 2023.
“But while we are ready to battle this politics of exclusion and oppression, we are open to discussions with any one who wants to engage with us in good faith.”
Dogara, on his part, said with the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the APC, Nigeria was going the way of the Nazi Germany.
The former Speaker of the House of Representatives, who said the APC wanted to disintegrate Nigeria like USSR and Yugoslavia, added that the party looked like a “janjaweed” party.
According to him, Nigeria of 2022 is not the Nigeria of 1993 adding that the presidential candidate of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has made a fatal error of judgment.
Dogara also supported the position of other Christian leaders on the Muslim-Muslim ticket, with a call on Christians to seek for an alternative platform in the 2023 elections.
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. Truth must be told that anyone who is not bringing us together is consciously tearing us apart”, Dogara added.
Senator Abbo said no Northerner would fight his brother because he is a Muslim, adding that they were fighting injustice.
He called on Nigerians to reject every divisive tendency of individuals to divide the people.
Why We’re Not Happy With Governor Alia – APC
The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in Benue has blamed its lingering rift with Governor Hyacinth Alia on his failure to treat the party with some respect and dignity.
The party also claimed that the Governor has consistently failed to consult its leaders and carry its members along on issues, contrary to the norm.
Addressing the media in Makurdi, the three State Zonal Chairmen of the party in the state including Wilfred Uji of Zone A, James Tor of Zone B and Bishop Pinot Ogbaji of Zone C regretted that Governor Alia’s attitude towards the party had created a gulf between them.
Speaking on behalf of the trio, Bishop Ogbaji explained that the crisis was not between the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, George Akume and the Governor, but a dispute between the Benue APC and the Governor.
According to him, “the shaky relationship between Governor Hyacinth Alia and the APC started in June this year, during the inauguration of the State Assembly where the governor had preference for a candidate for the position of Speaker but could not confer with the leadership of the party, rather he allowed the party to painstakingly sit, zone the position and anoint a candidate that was not his choice.
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“The end result was an embarrassing situation where stalwarts of the party were enmeshed in a shameful altercation that clearly lowered them and the party in the chamber of the Benue State House of Assembly.
“The party again nominated and spread other principal officers of the Assembly, but shockingly, the Speaker happily accepted all nomiations from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as duly endorsed by the PDP State Chairman and Secretary, however, he jettisoned the list submitted by the APC and rather announced the list that was allegedly submitted by the governor, through his Chief of Staff.
“It was a humiliating experience for the party, having to face that level of neglect in the hands of an administration we all laboured hard to plant, nevertheless, we sustained our faith in the governor and his government.
“In picking his commissioners, the Governor exercised his sole discretion without the usual tradition of directing local governments to make nominations taking cognizance of zonings and necessary political permutations, he rather made his independent choices as he found soothing but the party did not oppose him; we rather gave our full support to his action since that was his own State Executive and Security Council and he needed people he could trust.
“And when it was time for the nomination of Caretaker Committees to administer the Local Government Councils, Governor Alia threw it back to party members during the second stakeholders meeting by demanding an immediate nomination of three candidates each for the positions of Council Caretaker Chairman, Deputy and Secretary as well as Supervisory Councillors across the 23 Local Governments, demanding for 2 slots of Supervisory Councillors from each of the Local Governments.
“This was the first time a Governor would demand such from the Caretaker Council formation as against the usual one slot per local government. The party jubilantly agreed and obeyed the directive by holding meetings, and painstakingly nominating and submitting their various lists with a relieving sense of belonging.
“But quite shockingly, when the nominations were finally announced, the party was bewildered that 80 percent of the names were outside the actual nominees that were sent to the governor on his directive.
“We are not pushing to usurp or share powers with the Governor but if the governor was interested in forming a unity government, he would have simply called a general meeting of all Benue people and requested nominations from them rather than allowing APC members sweat to microzone the positions, shop for names and raise the hopes of candidates who were eventually ignored, dropped and their opponents, most of whom are members of rival political parties appointed.
“In all this misgiving and dissatisfaction, the announcement of Caretaker Committees marked the pinnacle of a noticeably sour relationship between Governor Alia and the APC in Benue State and this snowballing anger by all standards is justifiable.
“It is also trite to mention that as elders in the exco, we, the three Zonal Chairmen did not rest on our oars in seeking solutions; we have made frantic reconciliatory moves, trying to find out what the real issues were but in all our efforts, we could not get tangible issues capable of tearing the party apart.
“Our Leader, Sen. George Akume has deep love for Gov. Hyacinth Alia and in all our meetings, he has never spoken ill of the governor at any point; he has consistently admonished us to pray and support the governor to succeed, same way the governor eulogizes Sen. Akume at all times and hints of a cordial relationship between them.
“But the condition of Benue APC can best be likened to a helpless husband with a very beautiful wife that sleeps around with only his neighbours and enemies while he, the lawful husband is deprived of his conjugal rights.”
Reacting, the immediate past Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and former APC Governorship candidate, Mr. Emmanuel Jime dismissed the allegations by the Zonal Chairmen saying, “those making the accusation are ignorant and it is without any foundation.
“In a Presidential democracy, the Governor is the Leader of the Party in his State just like any other State Governor. The tragedy of our democratic experiment so far is that most of us see politics as a meal ticket.
“Whenever an elected official chooses the path to real development, you will have the stomach infrastructure politicians attempting the distraction strategy. Benue is in dire need of a development agenda. The Governor appears to be focused on this. All men and women of goodwill must join in this all important endeavour.”
Ondo 2024: Don’t Impose Candidate, Cleric Warns Tinubu
Ahead of next year’s governorship election in Ondo state, the Senior pastor of Awaiting The Second Coming Of Christ Ministries, Adewale Giwa, has warned President Bola Tinubu, not to impose a candidate on the people of the state.
Giwa, said this in Akure, weekend while leading his the members of his church to pray for governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s quick recovery.
He urged Tinubu not to place his personal interest above the people.
According to him “Allow the people of Ondo state to pick the candidate of their choice. President Tinubu must not impose a candidate on the people the way he did the last time.
“You can now see the results of poor governance, incompetence, and high-handedness.
“A situation whereby a man fails to control his wife while going astray is nothing but a disappointment.
“Ondo state people are just now waking up from their slumber. When they were still sleeping and snoring, I warned that Governor Akeredolu’s second term tenure won’t do the state any favor.
“I also advised the governor himself to caution his wife, but he didn’t listen. They like hypocrites, and I am not one of them.
“This time around, President Tinubu should allow the people of Ondo state to choose for themselves through transparent primary election before the main one.”
Giwa said that “Anybody who loves the president should advise him to steer clear of Ondo state. If not, the ruling party will forgo the state to a small political party.”
Edo 2024: LP Must Field Candidate Capable Of Giving Opponents A Run – Akpata
By Joseph Kanjo
A Labour Party (LP) governorship aspirant in the 2024 Edo State governorship election, Olumide Osaigbovo Akpata, Esq. has said that if the party must win the forthcoming gubernatorial election, “they must put forward a candidate that can match up to the opponents we know we will confront at the election.”
He said except the intention of the party participating in the governorship election is not to win, but if the intention is to win, “it must be palm-for-palm,” declaring that he is the only one who can make such match with the opponents.
The immediate past President, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) who stated this in Benin on Saturday shortly after being honoured as Guest of Honour at Edo NUJ 2023 Press Week, added that he expects the LP to make the right choice by picking him as the flagbearer of the party in the governorship election.
According to him, he has been going round the 18 local governments canvasing potential delegates with the expectation that when the time comes they will make the right choice by voting him at the primary.
He added: “I have been canvasing our potential delegates; I have been speaking to persons who belong to a pull from which delegates will be selected. I have been speaking to them, and I hope that the message that I have been passing across will not fall to the bear ground. I have traveled the 18 local governments.”
Akpata continued: “If Labour Party is ever going to win the election in Edo State, they must put forward a candidate that can match up to the opponents we know we will confront at the election. Except the intention is not to win, if the intention is to win, it must be palm-for-palm. We cannot compare apples and oranges, you must compare apples and apples.”
On the allegation that he is using his financial strength to make sure he gets the party ticket by all means, the former NBA President said: “I have been a Lawyer for 30 years, I have worked only as a Lawyer, maybe a few businesses on the side that have come out of the fact that I am a lawyer. So, I think I have succeeded. I am the type who spend in what I believe in. It is when you spend your treasure in what you believe in, that is when you can be taken seriously. The funniest thing is that those who are calling me money bag have been spending lavishly even before I came into the scene. I just wondered what the issue really is. When people feel uncomfortable, and they see a competition that they cannot really match up to, they must look for a fault. It is a case of give a dog a bad name so you can hang him.”
On allegation that he is being sponsored by Governor Godwin Obaseki, Akpata said: “this is an unfounded rumour, it is baseless. My relationship with the Governor for years has never been hidden.”
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