Senator Kogi Smart Adeyemi announced the proposal at a conference on September 4. The Nigeria News Agency (NOPE) indicates that it is a “bill to amend the Elections Act 2022 and other related matters relating to 2022”.
Following the choice by the presidential candidate and political godfather of Lagos, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, of former Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima as his running mate, there is a debate on whether a country divided between the Islam and Christianity should have two Muslims in the highest office.
Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan Kukah condemned this choice by stating: “I think as a Christian it is totally reprehensible. It’s not acceptable to me.”
If the bill passes, candidates of the same religion will not be allowed to share a ticket in any elections after 2023.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has particularly expressed its lack of support for the APC ticket. Senator Adeyemi says: “[…] I fully support the issues and concerns named by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). I am a practicing Christian, but we must not face these issues in a way that would hinder fabric of our national unity … Yes, there were oversights in the key nomination[ments] in the past, which tends to disadvantage Christians”.
However, he stresses that “it should not be seen that there are not Christians eminently qualified to occupy one of these functions”.
Currently, in the ruling party, the president, the party chairman, the vice president, the president of the senate, the president and vice president, the presidential candidate and his running mate are all Muslims.
On July 11, APC Christian political leaders from the 19 northern states met in the Federal Capital Territory to discuss this bias, stating that the party’s constitution stipulates that it “will ensure equality of opportunity for all…eliminating all forms of discrimination and social injustice among Nigerians”.
Significantly, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is led by a Muslim, former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, but his running mate is the Christian Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa .
Similarly, promising popular Labor Party candidate Peter Obi, a Christian, has chosen a Muslim, former Senator Yusuf Baba-Ahmed, as his running mate.
Some wonder if APC’s risk could hurt its chances of success in 2023.
Why is it important?
Christians make up about 50% of the population, and Article 14(3) of the 1999 constitution states: “The composition of the government of the federation…shall be so effected as to reflect…the need to promote national unity.” . and also to enforce national loyalty.
Many do not believe that a Muslim-Muslim ticket fairly support Christian issues and call for a more representative government.