The Northern States Christian Elders Forum (NOSCEF) has described as insensitive and selfish, thoughts of fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket for presidency in the 2023 general elections, warning that such moves will be massively resisted.
NOSCEF made its position known in a statement, signed by its chairman, Engineer Ejoga Oyinehi Inalegwu, made available to journalists in Kaduna recently.
The statement read in part “The Northern States Christian Elders Forum (NOSCEF) read with concerns the reported meeting of a frontline politician with some Northern Elders, advocating a Muslim/Muslim ticket, if given the Presidential ticket and many days after, the report has not been refuted.
“We wonder which Northern Elders were in the said meeting.
Let us recall the Chief Abiola Alhaji Kingibe Muslim-Muslim ticket that won the election in a military imposed two-party system in 1993. Majority of Nigerians, including myself voted for that ticket because, a vote for that ticket was a vote for fairness, equity, justice and power rotation between North and South, South East and North East,” the statement said.
They group recalled that during previous elections, Alhaji Shehu Shagari (North West)/Dr. Ekwueme (South East) ruled Nigeria and Abiola/Kingibe therefore, meant power shifting between North and South and in the North, power shifting from North West to North East and in the South, from South West to South East.
“Remember there were no other alternatives since it was a two party system.
“Therefore, the same injustice, inequity, marginalization that Nigerians fought against to vote a Muslim–Muslim ticket cannot now be promoted by voting same Muslim-Muslim or Christian- Christian ticket,” it said.
NOSCEF explained that Nigerians in 1993, bent over backward to vote and affirm with one voice, that the ill of religious and regional differences were more tolerable than injustice, inequity and marginalization.
“Northerners across religious lines voted for Chief Abiola from the south, and expected that thereafter that it would only be fair, for power to shift back to North East or North Central.
“The voting pattern re-echoed Fayemi’s saying that “unity cannot endure where injustice, marginalization and inequity thrives”. It was a vote against injustice and marginalization,” they recalled.
NOSCEF said that it is deeply concerned about this kite being flown again.
“When we remember the speculated rift between Senator Bukola Saraki and the clique that had pressed in 2015 for a Buhari/Tinubu Muslim-Muslim ticket, which Saraki and many like-minded patriots had considered insensitive in the Nigerian state.
“Linking it with the North West, would remind observing Nigerians, who have seen how a similar insensitivity has deepened the divide and mistrust in the North West state,” they pointed out.
The group said that they had identified with the President in his call for unity and therefore, condemn in strong terms, any move that will further aggravate the lines of divide for selfish political gains at the expense of a peaceful and united Nigeria.
“We appeal to all Nigerians across party, regional, ethnic and religious divides to rise up and mobilize the citizenship against any inconsiderate politician or political grouping, seeking to promote exclusion and marginalization of any section of our country.
“Those that do not wish Nigeria well have no business seeking its leadership,” they warned.
The Northern Christian Elders added that such politicians will make every attempt to manipulate Nigerians as a people, through double talks and deceit but, “we trust that God who put us together for a great nation, will defeat them in all their antics/craftiness and bring to pass the expectations of true and patriotic Nigerians seeking a truly united and prosperous Nigeria.”
NOSCEF therefore, urged Nigerians to pray that anyone who plans to rise to power in Nigeria, by fueling the embers of discrimination, using the instrumentation of religious ethnic differences will fail, because God is greater and wiser than any manipulation of man.
“NOSCEF being mindful of the various crisis that has bedeviled our nation to date calls on all Nigerians to be vigilante and prepared to defeat the enemies to our peaceful co-existence without regard to party affiliation and persuasion.
“Remember that loyalty to the nation Nigeria, ranks far above loyalty to any party.
“The nation is in dire need of a selfless, considerate, sensitive, honest, transparent leader who will unite, bind, heal the wounds that have posed a great danger to our corporate existence as a nation, integrate and foster lasting bonds of unity of our dear country.
“We need politicians across party lines and all peace loving Nigerians across religious, regional and ethnic divides to reject politicians sowing seeds of further polarization and work for/align with inclusiveness, unity, equity, fairness, justice.
“This might even entail going against regional and party affiliations to drive home the point that power is giving in trust for the good of the people not for self centered ambition.
“Anyone that is seeking the highest political office of the land at the expense of the peace the nation and building of tolerance amongst the diversity of our country, cannot lay claim to being a patriot and would therefore have no business being encouraged or voted to such a position.”
Recalled that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had earlier cautioned political parties in the country to avoid heating up the polity with either Christian/Christian ticket or Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket come 2023 general election.
Rev. Samson Ayokunle, the CAN President had given the advice during a meeting of CAN leadership with the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, in Abuja.
A statement signed by the Special Assistant (Media & Communications) Pastor Adebayo Oladeji explained that concerning the 2023 elections, “we would admonish you politicians not to heat up the polity in any way as the campaigns are opened by guiding the utterances that would be coming out of you. There is already tension in the land because of insecurity.
“We equally want to urge you on presidency that a balance of both religious practitioners be considered. We don’t want Christian/Christian ticket nor Muslim/Muslim ticket.”