July 29 (THEWILL) — Former Federation Cabinet Secretary Babachir Lawal has said the 2023 elections will be all about religion, launched by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Lawal spoke at the APC Northern Christian Leaders Summit in Abuja 2022 on Friday.
Absolving Christians from bringing religion into Nigerian politics, Lawal warned that the ruling party should be prepared for the consequences of a same-faith ticket in 2023.
According to him, blaming Christians and heaping insults on the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) will get APC nowhere.
He said “PVC and prayers will be our weapon of choice and we will happily deploy them in 2023.”
The former SGF said the Muslim-Muslim ticket agenda is just unfolding and Christians will resist it.
He said, “We won’t give up until we get justice. I have heard friends and colleagues inside and even outside the APC express shock and even disbelief at our reaction to the APC Muslim-Muslim ticket in the 2023 general election.
“Our opposition has a historical basis. There have been times in the past when Christians trained the Deputy Governors in Kebbi, Niger and Kaduna States. Now these are all-Muslim-Muslim tickets. It should be noted that all of this happens in states controlled by the APC. They threaten to do the same in the states of Gombe, Kogi and Adamawa.
“It is also now a recurring practice in the north that any Christian traditional leader who dies is replaced by 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.
“The proof of its anti-Christian agenda is that our party itself has completely eliminated Northern Christians from its National Working Committee (NWC) and National Executive Council (NEC). All of our protests as party members were completely ignored by the party leadership. But as members of the APC, we have the right to continue to express our outrage at these events and we will not give up until we get the justice we are owed.
“The main purpose of this historical account is to let you know that for the APC, a Muslim-Muslim ticket was a long-term political strategy and not a one-time decision. So all this talk about competence as the reason for choosing of the Muslim vice-president are bullshit and a diversion. It is a calculated program of anti-Christian exclusion that is being implemented.
“One might ask: why is the APC itself silent on our rejection of this Muslim-Muslim ticket? And why have none of the other perpetrators of this crisis reached out to Christians for dialogue? Why do they instead hire fake bishops and take on groups of churches to further embarrass the Church? Why are they embarking on a vicious media war against CAN and the Church instead of seeking reconciliation? Really, things don’t add up.
“So why are Christians in northern Nigeria particularly opposed to the Muslim-Muslim ticket? I’ll try to list a few more reasons in addition to the ones I’ve already listed above:
“We view this post as an assent to the current and continued educational, economic and political marginalization of Christians in Northern Nigeria.”
The former SGF unveiled data on employment at institutions of higher learning based solely in the North, both federal and state universities, polytechnics and colleges of education that favor Muslims more than Muslims. Christians.
He said: “28 vice-chancellors of federal universities. 23 Muslims, 5 Christians.
“Vice-Chancellors of State Universities 22. Muslims 17, Christians 5.
“Rectors of Federal Polytechnics 21. Muslims 18, Christians 3.
“Rectors of state polytechnics 20. Muslims 16, Christians 4.
“Federal Colleges of Education Provosts 23. Muslims 22 Christians 1.
“State Colleges of Education Provosts 31. Muslims 24, Christians 7.
“Of course, it goes without saying that employment in all other positions, from registrar to cleaner in these establishments, will be replicated in the same way.
“This scenario is what we find in all government agencies in the North. Therefore, we see this Muslim-Muslim ticket as an extension of this practice of exclusion at the highest level of government.
“Christians across the country view this Muslim-Muslim ticket as a deliberate and premeditated attempt to introduce and firmly entrench the religion in the politics of this country. This, of course, will lead to further imbalance in the hitherto fragile coexistence of Nigerian society, disrupt the peace and hamper the social and economic development of the country.
“Christians and indeed most enlightened Nigerians do not know why people who intend to rule 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.
“This ticket implies the implication that Muslims in the north are unwilling to vote for a ticket that has a Christian on it and does not represent them. We believe that northern Muslims would have seen justice in a Muslim-Christian ticket and given it their overwhelming support if the party had 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 housed. Sadly, that’s the message we get loud and clear from this Muslim-Muslim post. This is truly a wake-up call for all Nigerian Christians. We did not start this religious policy, APC and its candidates did; so we all need to take note and act accordingly.
“So, fellow APC colleagues, spare us the sanctimonious rhetoric about ‘competence’ and the ‘candidates’ religion doesn’t matter’ cliché. The truth is that the presidential election of 2023 will be all about religion, and sadly, you started it; religion is important in this context, so be prepared for the consequences.
“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 side, we do not seek to oppress or dominate anyone or any religion. But we will also stand up to anyone who tries to discriminate against us and our religion. We didn’t start this fight. The APC started it and must be ready to carry the cross it created. Blaming Christian and heaping insults on AFCON will get them nowhere.
“For how do they expect Christians to remain silent when a governor of a northern state publicly states that they pressured Tinubu for a northern Muslim vice-president because they didn’t believe him to be a good Muslim? Will the vice president be the deputy national imam? How do they expect us to remain silent when another governor from a northern state comes to Osun State and urges them to vote for someone just because they are a Muslim? Was he there for the election campaign or “dawah”? What can be a better example of religion in politics than that demonstrated by these governors?
“Clearly, there is an agenda to politically, religiously and economically suppress and oppress Christians in the North. But we are up to it. We will protect ourselves. PVC and our prayers will be our weapons of choice and we will deploy them massively in 2023.
“But while we stand ready to combat this policy of exclusion and oppression, we are open to discussions with anyone who wants to engage with us in good faith.
“As I always do, I want to end with this quote from Romans 8:31: ‘What shall we say then in answer to these things?
“If God is for us, who can be against us? May God bless and reward all of our collective efforts to seek to live in peace with one another in Nigeria, our blessed country.
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara, who was the keynote speaker, said that the opposition against the Muslim-Muslim ticket is not something personal against the candidates of the ruling party, but that t is about justice and unity in Nigeria.