The highly regarded Governor of Borno State has just branched off from the zenith of his moral highway to an infamous dirty road of bigotry and oddity. In a lead report just published by Daily Trust, the Prof Zulum beloved by many Nigerians for his altruistic, dedicated and tireless approach to leadership, threw caution to the winds by delving into the country’s notorious shenanigan of religious politics, in his own desperate attempt to canvas support for the National Chairmanship Aspiration of Senator George Akume. Clearly fiddling with his nationwide acceptability, Zulum miserably resorted to moralising the candidature of Akume without availing or volunteering any other concrete substance,  why he should be elected to such important and challenging job. Of all reasons, Prof Zulum claimed that electing Akume as National Chairman of APC will grant Christians “fairness, equity and justice, as well as giving them a sense of belonging”. Not only was he unwittingly demeaning the standing of Christians  in the party, but also, he was unconsciously re-enforcing the erroneous and  primitive belief that APC belongs to a particular religious block, which can only concede certain positions in the party as a favor of goodwill. His campaign exposes Christians in APC as weak and helpless and could only be "graciously granted" some positions in the name of fairness, rather than meriting them. 

   Unfortunately, the Borno State Governor is merely  parroting some disgruntled politicians who have continued to link politics with religion not only to gain advantage but also to destroy others. Such politicians, who are usually bereft of ideas, usually engage in this useless and baseless religious pontification in order to hoodwink and brainwash innocent faithfuls into believing that they (politicians) cared for them. In fact, the greater enemies of our country are those dropping these faulty lines to justify the notion of religious intolerance and tension in our body politics. In states like Taraba and Benue, torn apart by religious undertones, Christians were shamelessly assailed and hoodwinked into electing leaders they thought will represent their religious and social interests, only to be left with a sour taste in the mouth due to harrowing and horrifying states of despondency, underdevelopment, lack of social amenities and non payments of salaries, pension and gratuities. If indeed, Senator George Akume is a national political leader with impressive credentials, let him fight for the Chairmanship without being accorded some ‘help’ by beingflagged as a Christian candidate. He should reject this appellation because it is highly insulting to his image. Nigerians should know that, whether Christian or Muslim, politicians talk of religion only at the level of campaign into office and when they get there, they only manage themselves. Let the people stake their support on God fearing people instead of generalising religious notions. 

  The question still remains; what message was Prof Zulum conveying to Nigerians? Have the power mongers, stocking the fires of discord in the party in recent weeks finally settled on a Muslim/Muslim ticket? There’s no secret that in recent times, Zulum’s name has been thrown up as one of the likely persons who may feature in one of Presidential tickets for the Party. As a poster child of this administration, with widespread acclamation for his wonderful work in Borno State, it appears that the Professor is beginning to respond to the infamous drums of praise singers who may jeopardise his reputation. This would clearly be catastrophic and a betrayal of the good people of Borno as well as other loving Nigerians. 

  Looking at the development on the surface, many Nigerians are bound to believe that Zulum was morally showing concern to Christians but underneath, is high wire politics intended to send people in a wrong direction while plotting to impose unwholesome candidates. It is  important to note that following the collapse of the recent plot which attempted to throw up Senator Abdullahi Adamu, the plotters are devising a new one, playing on the sensibilities and moral weakness of some Nigerians.

   Considering Zulum’s colossal image as a man of fairness and justice, many feel that he should start his campaign by balancing the Presidential ticket, instead of trying to promote injustice at the top of the Power ladder. In other words, Zulum should insist on a Christian/Muslim ticket from the South/North,  since most people of the Middle Belt are more deposed to PDP. What benefits will an Akume Chairmanship bring to the party since he has no guarantee of block votes from the people he is supposed to represent? If the All Progressives Congress is a party for both Christians and Muslims, members should be encouraged to follow the Christian norm of “loving your neighbour as yourself”, irrespective of religious affiliation. There’s no historical or empirical justification for donating the Chairmanship without recourse to competence, appropriateness and loyalty. Strategically speaking, it is a total miscalculation to alocate the Chairmanship to Benue State where PDP have their national chairman. This will trivialise the office and subject it to the local politics of Benue state with active connivance of the PDP administration in the State. Akume should be saved the sweat of combining the huge task of running the biggest political party in Nigeria and facing local squabbles at home. This will deny the APC of quality leadership. 

   Not a few Nigerians are aware of the difficulties posed by the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Presidential ambition, given the fact that his affiliation as a Muslim  may ripple the much taunted religious balance in the country. Chief Tinubu is no doubt eminently qualified to lead this country and if his candidature should suffice, why should Zulum not canvass the Vice Presidency for Akume? Zulum is aware that because of their massive block votes the Hausa/Muslim candidate must be on the Presidential ticket and the only way to appease the Christian/Minority groups is to dash them the Chairmanship. Unfortunately, the current leading APC Chairmanship contestant Senator Tanko Umaru Al-Makura is not different from what Zulum is canvassing. He is a Minority from Nassarawa State and has no history of religious or tribal bigotry or distasteful discrimination. Why can’t he represent the So called minorities or disadvantaged people in APC? Why flag religion as the basis for freely awarding the Chairmanship instead of the other factors more important in the contest? This is clearly a trivialization of the Chairmanship of a great Party like the APC. At this point of the campaign, it is very clear who the preferred person is; why should we continue to drag? Senator Tanko Al-Makura's candidacy satisfies all the requirements; competence, loyalty, efficient party administrator,  leader of the ethnic minorities and open minded Democrat. Besides, the defunct CPC of  the legacy parties should justifiably take their turn.


By Aaron Artimas

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