I have immense respect for Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State who happens to be the running mate to Waziri Atiku Abubakar in the 2023 presidential election.
He is a gentleman to the core and someone that I would never seek to disparage even though we belong to different political parties and we may not agree on everything.
I am however constrained to react to his stated concerns and remarks about a Muslim/Muslim ticket which he voiced at a conference yesterday.
It is pertinent to remind him that, even though those of us that stand with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima, have gone to great lengths to explain to members of the Christian community that such a ticket will not in any way affect any of us, our faith or our fortunes given the benign disposition of the two, it is also of importance to point out that his principal, Waziri Atiku Abubakar, COMPELLED two of his wives who were originally Christians to convert to the Muslim faith upon marriage whilst our presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Jagaban of Borgu, had the prescence of mind and tolerance to allow his wife to not only remain a Christian but to also follow her calling as a Pastor.
Asiwaju has also allowed his children to adhere to whichever faith they choose and most of them are Christian.
Can such a man have an evil agenda against Christians?
Can such a man seek to Islamise our country?
Can such a man do or say anything to engender religious bigotry or intolerance in our nation?
Who between the duo of Waziri and Jagaban has shown more sensitivity to the Christian community and faith given these facts and circumstances?
Is it the one that compelled his two Christian wives to convert to Islam upon marriage or the one that allowed his Christian wife to remain a Christian and to even continue preaching the gospel of Jesus Chris, our Lord and Saviour?
The truth is that the most dangerous threat to the peace and unity of our country is not a Muslim/Muslim ticket but the obstinate and irrational insistence of keeping the Presidency in the North and fielding yet another Fulani candidate from the core North after eight years of Fulani rule under President Muhamadu Buhari.
Can this be regarded as being reasonable or fair?
Has my dear friend and brother Governor Okowa considered this?
Does it not in any way weigh on his conscience?
Does it not present a very real danger to the interests and welfare of the people of the South collectively?
Surely the South should have a shot at the Presidency today.
Surely it is the turn of the South.
And to say otherwise would be insensitive, unreasonable, insulting and unjust.
In addition to that it would present a very serious challenge to our national unity and stability.
I am glad that it was the Northern Governors and leaders of the APC that made this point themselves and insisted on zoning our presidential ticket to the South.
That speaks volumes for their sense of justice and fairplay and once again I commend them for it.
Without them and the insistence of their Southern Governor counterparts in the party it could never have happened.
By way of contrast, the Northern leaders in the PDP and the majority of their Northern Governors, reneged on an earlier agreement with their Southern counterparts led by Governor Nyesome Wike, breached the rules of zoning in their own party constitution, rubbished the efforts of the majority of Southern Governors in their party and insisted on not only keeping the Presidency in the North but also the position of the party’s National Chairman as well.
This is not only unprecedented but it is also unjust.
It is pure wickedness.
It is a massive and unwarranted humiliation and slap in the face of every Southerner in their party and that is what Wike, Governor Makinde, Governor Ugwuanyi, Governor Ortom, Governor Ikpeazu and their supporters are struggling against.
I commend them for this though given the stubborn disposition and arrogant intransigence of their party’s National Chairman, Iyorcha Ayu, their noble efforts may end up being thwarted.
Should this not be Governor Okowa’s concern and not our party’s Muslim/Muslim ticket?
The obvious permutation that yet another Northern presidential candidate must be presented, given our nation’s history and circumstances, is dangerous for the unity of our country and grievous to the fortunes of their party is totally lost on people like Ayu and that is the concern that more reasonable men like Okowa should have.
The message the PDP has sent to the entire country by their choice of a Northern presidential flagbearer is that as far as their party is concerned, Southerners are nothing but worthless slaves who are there just to make up the numbers and help to win an election.
They are there just to be used and dumped.
They are there as nothing but the biblical “hewers of the wood” and “drawers of the water”.
Thankfully the APC, as progressive as ever, has sent an opposite message: that whether you are from the North or the South, as long as you are a member or a leader of the party, you shall enjoy equal rights and equal opportunities as everyone else regardless of where you are from in the country.
The APC has killed and buried the notion that Southerners are slaves whilst the PDP wants to resurrect it.
It is left for each of us to make a choice between the two but my choice is for freedom and equality rather than bondage and slavery.
If the little sacrifice we have to make and the price we have to pay for that is a Muslim/Muslim ticket in order to ensure victory then so be it.
This is especially so given the fact that in the South West where our candidate comes from we see religion as a personal issue ans not a political one.