Sunday, August 14, 2022

Tinubu insisted on Muslim-Muslim ticket for Action Congress in 2007 elections: Atiku

Mr Abubakar’s comments came as Mr Tinubu remained under public backlash for presenting a Muslim running mate ahead of next year’s election.

• July 21, 2022
Tinubu and Atiku
Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar

Atiku Abubakar has said his political ties with Bola Tinubu crashed in 2007 after the former Lagos governor demanded fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket in that year’s presidential election.

Mr Abubakar stood as the presidential candidate of the now-defunct opposition Action Congress against Umar Yar’Adua of the then-ruling Peoples Democratic Party. Mr Yar’Adua won the election, but died in office three years later in May 2010.

Mr Abubakar, the PDP’s presidential candidate for next year’s election, said he became politically-estranged with Mr Tinubu after he presented Ben Obi, a Christian from southern Nigeria, as his vice-presidential candidate in the 2007 election.

“He insisted on running with me and I didn’t believe it was right to have a Muslim-Muslim ticket,” Mr Abubakar said in an interview with Arise Television. “That was the point of my fundamental departure with him.”

The Action Congress was formed by Mr Abubakar, Mr Tinubu and other political heavyweights as Mr Abubakar, Nigeria’s vice-president at the time, was locked in a political battle with President Olusegun Obasanjo. The alliance crashed by the 2011 election after Mr Abubakar returned to the PDP, and Mr Tinubu rebranded the party as Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). The ACN was amongst the five political blocks that became the now-ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). 

A spokesman for Mr Tinubu’s campaign did not immediately return a request seeking comments about Mr Abubakar’s claim on Thursday night. 

Mr Abubakar’s comments came as Mr Tinubu remained under public backlash for presenting a Muslim running mate ahead of next year’s election. Mr Tinubu, the APC presidential candidate, is a Muslim from Lagos, while his vice-presidential choice Alhaji Kashim Shettima is from Borno.

The ticket has faced a nationwide uproar from Nigerian Christians, including members of Mr Tinubu’s party, who vowed to resist and sabotage it from within. The State Security Service, Nigeria’s domestic intelligence outfit, has also warned of dire national security implications of Mr Tinubu’s decision. 

The Arise interview marked the first public comment by Mr Abubakar on the matter, and his position appeared to reinforce the opposition argument against Mr Tinubu, which centred largely on the fragility of the country’s multi-ethnic and multi-religious composition. 

It also strengthened assertions of Bukola Saraki and other politicians that Mr Tinubu made a similar push to force himself as Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate in 2015, before the party later settled for Yemi Osinbajo, hitherto a political and legal aide to Mr Tinubu.

Nigeria’s over 200 million population is largely considered evenly split between Muslims and Christians across over 400 ethnic groups. 

Yet, Mr Tinubu has emphasised that his Muslim-Muslim composition was the right measure and complaints against it should be dismissed as an ethno-religious provocation. 

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