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Tinubu insulted Northern Christians with Muslim-Muslim ticket – LP chieftain

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In this interview, a Labour Party chieftain, Iliya Kwache, tells Hindi Livinus that Bola Tinubu, the APC presidential candidate, insulted Northern Christians over his choice of a Muslim running mate

You are one of the very few Nigerians in the diaspora who is actively participating in the country’s politics. How has the experience been for you?

My experience, which has been enriching, will be a memory for a lifetime. Unfortunately, the citizens seem not to know that politics is for serving the community. The funniest part of my experience is people asking me why I am leaving the comfort of Europe for the murky waters of Nigerian politics. My answer has always been simple: We can develop Nigeria like Europe.

You contested the primaries for the House of Representatives seat for Madagali/Michika Federal Constituency under the Peoples Democratic Party. What was the experience like?

The PDP primary election for the Madagali/Michika Federal Constituency was cancelled due to intimidation, threats, and manipulation. The delegates complained bitterly that they were being coerced under duress to vote for a particular candidate, which prompted four of us to write a protest letter to the chairman of the election committee asking for the postponement or cancellation of the exercise for another day.

Four of us out of six staged a walkout in protest. I had no option but to resign from the PDP; an injustice was done to us aspirants, and I could not stomach it. I mean, here is a party that tagged itself as “democratic,” yet they could not allow delegates to make their choice as per the words of the delegates. Why should I continue to be in a party filled with injustice?

I was disappointed and bitter but never contemplated leaving politics at all, knowing the importance of politics in governance. The fact that I can leave the “so-called comfort of Europe” (laughs) to actively participate in Nigerian politics tells you this is a serious business for visionary futuristic leaders. With due respect and humility, every Yoruba talks about Chief Awolowo as a role model because he was a visionary politician. Before the North was divided, old-generation Northerners talked about Sir Ahmadu Bello and his “Northernisation” policy.

I am here to stay put in politics. It is a game that should and must be played by serious-minded people if our society is to develop.

What inspired you to join the Labour Party after you dumped the PDP?

Fortunately for me, the Labour Party saw my manifesto and my mission and vision and invited me to fly their flag, which I graciously accepted.

To be honest with you, I was approached by three other parties, but the Labour Party is the best.

More so, with the “OBI-DIENT” movement, which is now an unstoppable wildfire, I couldn’t resist the offer.

The truth is, I caught the vibrancy of the “OBI-DIENT” movement, which has elevated the Labour Party to a higher pedestal and is the current topic of national discourse. We, the people, are the structures of the Labour Party for the 2023 election. Fortunately for the Labour Party, the running mate of Peter Obi is another vibrant, organized, and purposeful Nigerian.

As far as the North is concerned, Peter Obi/Yusuf Baba-Ahmed is the party to beat on February 25, 2023. The youths have mobilised themselves to protect their votes. The electorate is tired of the old horses, if I may use that word. Nigerians will have it good with the OBI/Baba Ahmed government as of May 29, 2023.

What is your assessment of your party’s presidential candidate’s chances in the North?

As we are conducting this interview, the APC has just been defeated in the Osun State gubernatorial election. It is a sign that the APC may be sailing in troubled waters ahead of the 2023 general elections. The party’s chances, if you ask me, don’t look anything like bright, not with the blunder the APC presidential candidate has committed with his choice of a Muslim running mate. That to me is political hara-kiri, which has started to catch up with him in his so-called comfort zone. Tinubu’s selection of his running mate has angered Nigerians, and the APC might not even come third in the 2023 presidential election.

But that said, on what record will the APC be running after a disastrous 7 years and still counting?

As we are speaking, there are still hostages from the Kaduna train attack with the bandits in the bush.

The fuel scarcity being experienced in Nigeria is probably the longest in the history of fuel scarcity in Nigeria. The university students have been at home since February 2022. Inflation on the ground in Nigeria is the worst in living memory. As of today in Nigeria, you cannot travel due to insecurity, whether by road, by rail, or even by air. Remember the Kaduna Airport attack?

During the PDP government in 2014, the security apparatus was only contending with Boko Haram, but from the time they took over in 2015, the APC has added bandits, ISWAP, and kidnappers who kidnap people for ransom to the woes of Nigerians. So on what issues will Tinubu and the APC be campaigning as they try to secure the support of Nigerian electorates in 2023?

As for the PDP, I hope you are aware of the acrimony and internal wrangling within the party as fallout of its jettisoning of zoning.

More so, the presidential candidates of both parties are reportedly lacking in integrity.

Both Atiku and Tinubu are embroiled in one or more scandals involving fraudulent business deals in America or certificate forgery. So, you can see that it is only the candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi that has come out clean without any controversial baggage so far.

The only charge against Peter Obi was the one by one Reverend Father Mbaka that he was “stingy” with government resources. This is the type of leader that needs development. Every politician is getting a headache because Peter Obi joined the Labour Party less than two months ago. He has awoken the consciousness of Nigerians to register to get PVC, with over 10 million registering and counting.

Tinubu and Shettima, in particular, talk about Peter Obi and the Labour Party more than the PDP. Lekan Yusuf decamped from the APC to contest on the platform of the Labour Party. The Labour Party is the party to beat in the 2023 presidential election. Obi/Baba Ahmed will win on the first ballot.

You talked about Tinubu’s choice of his running mate costing him the presidency. Why? 

Tinubu’s greatest insult to the Northern Christians in the APC is telling them directly that none of them is qualified to be his running mate.

Well, if I may ask, is Boss Mustapha the current Secretary to the Government of the Federation, a seasoned lawyer, not a Christian Northerner? Boss Mustapha, the SGF by all rules and standards, is the number three person in the executive arm of government, after the president and vice president, yet Tinubu said he’s not competent.

Yakubu Dogara was a former Speaker of the House of Representatives; Reverend Yakubu Pam is the Executive Secretary of the Christian Pilgrims Board. Simon Lalong is the serving Governor of Plateau State. Binta Garba, the first Adamawa State Party Chairman of the APC, has 18 years of legislative experience behind her, they are all Christians, yet Tinubu, has the audacity to say they are not competent to be his running mate.

By the way, these are just a few examples; there are many more highly qualified individuals spread across the 19 Northern States.

If I may ask, what competence is Tinubu bringing to the table, apart from saying it is his turn? Is it Leah Sharibu who is still in captivity because she is a Christian or the remaining Chibok schoolgirls given to Boko Haram by Kashim Shettima, who refused to comply with simple federal government directives on school closure?

It is obvious that as far as Islam in Nigeria is concerned, Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT), in the eyes of some northern Islamic preachers, as well as the northern oligarchs, is not a true Muslim. Again, Tinubu has been sold a lie and told in no uncertain terms by some Islamic Hausa preachers and self-serving Muslim Northern governors that his own Islam is still baggage.

The governor’s are saying, “We cannot convince our people that you are a true Muslim by their own standard.  But those saying that it was politically suicidal for Tinubu to pick a Northern Christian as his running mate have made a bigger mistake. They have been told a lie.

The Christian Northern population is about 50%; otherwise, we challenge the Federal government to include tribe and religion in the coming 2023 census. Be assured that the votes of the Northern Christian community will determine the winner of the 2023 presidential election. Take these words to the bank.

You said Tinubu’s choice of Shettima, a Northern Muslim, is a slap on Christians in the North. Could you elaborate?

In fact, this statement of his is not just an insult to Christians in APC but to all Christians in Northern Nigeria, if you seek my opinion.

Again, the funniest aspect is that people like Shettima and El-Rufai mouthing out “competence now” were the same people who were agitating for a power shift to the North in 2011 and 2014.

The same group of people enshrined federal character, a quota system in the 1999 Constitution as amended, and “cut off marks” for Nigerian Unity School; suddenly they have changed the slogan to competence now?

Are you saying the North is a monolithic society?

The term “monolithic” North is the greatest deception sold to people in the South. It is a misconception that Muslims make up 90% of the 19 Northern states, a false narrative used to mislead southerners about a monolithic Muslim North.

The assertion that Muslims constitute 90% of the total population in the North East and North West is particularly false.

Of the over 500 ethnic groups in Nigeria, 70% are in the North. The scorching earth killing in Kaduna, Plateau, and Benue States proves that the “monolithic North” is a fallacy; a great myth.

Indeed, the open campaign in Hausa by a few misguided Islamic preachers opposed to Tinubu’s choice of a Northern Christian as his running mate demonstrates that the North is not monolithic but divided.

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