Christian leaders of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the North has vowed not to campaign for Bola Tinubu presidential candidate of the party and his running mate, Kashim Shettima, former Borno governor, on account of the duo being Muslims.

Mr Tinubu on Sunday named Mr Shettima, a fellow Muslim as himself, as his running mate for next year’s presidential race. He said he considered competence and wanted a situation where religion is uprooted from the national political scene.

But many of the party’s supporters who are against his preference are beginning to decamp, saying they are not going to support the ticket of same religion.

Arising from a meeting held in Abuja on Monday, the APC Christian leaders, in a communique jointly signed by Professors Doknan Sheni, Saidu Ibrahim and Dr. Ishaya Bauka, said they cannot “in all fairness to our consciences and faith go to our various constituencies to campaign for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.

“That Nigeria is a multi-religious and a constitutional democracy and NOT a theocracy with religion as a major national fault line which cannot be whimsically manipulated without dire political consequences on our peaceful coexistence as a people.

“That the current Nigerian environment and political atmosphere of the nation is different from what occurred in 1993 and therefore a Muslim – Musiim ticket is unacceptable. It doesn’t take the smart to know that the Abiola/Kingibe victory in 1993 turned out to be a pyrrhic victory as there was never a president Abiola nor vice president Kingibe. Is that what we want a repeat of in 2023?

“The selection of a Muslim running mate is a display of crass insensitivity to the complexity of modern Nigeria and the entire Church. It s also a betrayal of the advocates of unity and peaceful co-existence with our Muslim brothers including notable lmams who had forewarned the Party and the candidate from traveling that treacherous route.

“That the APC has always come under the suspicion of the Church as pursuing an Islamizatıon agenda. Hence the various labels of the APC as: Islamic Movement, Islamic brotherhood, Janjawecd party, Boko Haram party, etc, etc. Now with all the positions in the hands of our Muslim brothers, it would take ingenious mendacity to prove otherwise.

“That if the APC said a Muslim- Muslim ticket would be injurious to the health of our nation in 2015, what has therefore radically changed to make Muslim – Muslim ticket good for the health of our nation in 2023, if we may ask?

“That the rejection of a Muslim- Muslim ticket by Christians would undermine the electoral fortunes of the APC and its candidates across all States and constituencies where Christians enjoy numerical advantage. By so doing APC has recklessly thrown its Christian candidates under the bus across the nation.

“That considering the fact that PMB, the chairman of the party, deputy chairman north, the president of the Senate, the speaker and deputy speaker, and now both the presidential candidate and his running mate, etc are all Muslims, and assuming that such lopsidedness does not violate S.14 (3) of the Constitution: it this was to be reversed so that all these were Christians, can any contentious Muslim in Nigeria attempt to sell such patently unjust and unfair arrangements to the Muslim Ummah in Nigeria?

“The APC party constitution preamble states “will guarantee equal opportunity for all mutual and peaceful co-existence respect and understanding, eliminating all forms discrimination and social injustice among Nigerian”. The Muslim Muslim ticket appears to have violated this provision.

“That Mr. President being also the Leader of APC is urged to intervene in this matter in order to ensure justice, equity and fair play in the interest or the peace and stability of this great nation and save our party from disintegration. We believe that PMB who fought to keep Nigeria one, will not allow fanatics on both sides to wreak havoc on what remains of the tapestry that binds us a people. We can avoid the dire political consequences of the contraption called “same faith ticket”.

“We are disheartened that someone who wants to be a leader for all sections of the country is resorting to religious exclusivism as a tool for winning an election. This will certainly result in a massive revolt against the party. Leadership is all about inclusiveness, justice and equity.

“At this moment of national peril, we believe that what should be paramount in Nigeria is UNITY. For without unity we cannot build. Any political party or candidate that elevates the greed of a few people above the needs of the generality of the people has no business running the affairs of Nigeria.”