From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
A chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Osita Okechukwu, has declared that Northern Christians will not vote for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in the 2023 general elections.
Reacting to the outrage from the Northern Christians over APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket, Okechukwu told newsmen in Abuja, that though he; “shares in their anguish, he knows however that in the fullness of time, they will not vote for the former Vice President.”
The Director General, Voice of Nigeria (VON), also claimed that whatever marginalisation the Northern Christians are currently suffering will be lessened if the APC standard bearer, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu becomes the President in 2023.
He hinged his impression of Northern Christians rejecting Atiku on what he described as the religious ambivalence of the former Vice President.
Okechukwu made particular reference to Atiku’s antics during late Deborah’s imbroglio in Sokoto State, declaring that; “northern Christians do not trust Atiku.”
“Our first slogan in APC is ‘Change’. Our mantra is ‘Change’. We will not remain static, never. We will change whatever is not working. All we ask Nigerians is to give us another eight years as they gave our sister political party, the PDP,” he stated.
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“Regarding the Northern Christians’ outrage over APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket; if any pundit thinks they will vote for Atiku, my answer is ‘Capital No’. No matter what, they know he is bringing nothing new to the table.
“Find out, Northern Christians do not trust Atiku. They know his cherry-picking antics as per rule of law and rotation convention. They also know his ambivalence on religion, as demonstrated in the late Deborah’s imbroglio in Sokoto, which is still fresh in the mind of every Christian.
“Secondly, they know that Tinubu and by extension, the Yorubas’ DNA is devoid of religious extremism and bigotry. Yorubas celebrate Eid and Xmas together.
“As a matter of fact, without being personal, one was a witness when my dear friend Babachir Lawal informed the world during his thanksgiving Church Service at ECWA Wuse, that Tinubu and Pa Akande were instrumental to his appointment as Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF). May one ask, is it possible that neither Tinubu nor Pa Akande didn’t know any Northern Muslim to lobby for? Or has Tinubu changed 360 degrees?
“Thirdly, they are fully aware that Atiku has violently breached the rotation convention of president from north to south and painfully by extension of the PDP’s Constitution. For Atiku, rotation convention is north-south geopolitically benched, only when he wins the presidency. If he fails as in 2019, the rotation convention goal post must be shifted,” he quipped.
Emphasising why Atiku will not benefit from the outburst of the northern Christians, Okechukwu said: “It is on record that Atiku enjoyed and celebrated rotation convention when in 2018, Governor Nyeson Wike and other Southerners in obedience to the letters and spirit of Section 3(c) of PDP’s Constitution allowed only Northern presidential aspirants to contest in Port Harcourt.
“But in the 2022 PDP presidential primary election, he fought tooth and nail to jettison the rotation convention, arguing childishly that it is not applicable to PDP? Hence breached Section 3(c) of PDP’s Constitution. Some of us Southerners are as hurt as Northern Christians over this willful breach.
“Yes, faith balance is very important in building bonds of inclusion, so is rotation convention which bonds north and south, and cements inclusion and corporate existence. This is why I continue to salute APC’s Northern Governors, the majority of whom unlike PDP’s Governors by this noble patriotism, restored equity, natural justice and national loyalty in our clime.
“If PDP Governors had obeyed rotation convention from north to south, to be honest, there wouldn’t be the imperative of APC’s Muslim-Muslim Ticket. They cannot benefit from their negligence. I stand to be contradicted,” Okechukwu quipped.
On the anger of the Northern Christians over a seeming premeditated plan to exclude all Christians in both the APC party structure and government, Okechukwu argued that he shares their plight, but assured that such marginalisation will not repeat itself under Asiwaju Tinubu as President.
“We are witnesses when Dr Umaru Dikko as Transport Minister, was more powerful than Vice President, when Diezani Madueke as Petroleum Minister was more powerful than Vice President and recently, how powerful Abba Kyari (of blessed memory) was as Chief of Staff to the President. Therefore, Christians nationwide should give APC another chance.”
Defending the ticket further, Okechukwu said that everybody in Nigeria knows Tinubu’s antecedents as Governor of Lagos State, describing him as a master of sourcing for the best from every creed, tribe and tongue.
“I maintain that the next APC’s federal government must as a matter of urgent national importance adopt the good policies of the current administration, contain the palpable insecurity in the land and build new bonds of brotherhood,” he assured
The VON DG also claimed that throughout history there are no two successive regimes that are identical in every particular matter.
“In fact, it is only President Buhari’s regime that has the credit record of continuity of 98 per cent of abandoned and ongoing roads, rails, and other infrastructural projects in Nigeria, both at federal, state and local councils for over five decades,” he insisted.