A Second Republic Governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa, in this interview with TOBI AWORINDE of Punch Newpaper, argues that a Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket can only be risked upon the emergence of a candidate whose public acceptance is akin to that of the late Moshood Abiola in 1993 Will you say a Muslim-Muslim or a Christian-Christian ticket really matters?
I think it matters in Nigeria today. If it will be considered at all, it must be exercised with great caution. In 1993, with (the presidential candidate of the now defunct Social Democratic Party) Chief Moshood Abiola, this was tried and it was successful. But things have changed dramatically between 1993 and 2014. The quality of leadership is low. Even the quality of politics is low that I think it should not be risked. Of course, it can happen successfully, if the people in the country get to a deciding position. But there may come a time when Nigeria, for instance, is on the verge of break-up. The truth is that people today can?t forget their differences. Now, with the manipulation of politics, I don?t think it is safe. It may be the last resort; something that can be tried if there is nothing else and people can accept. As long as it is not necessary, I think we should not even attempt it. We are now talking of two major political parties: the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress. Has any one of them had public acceptance like the SDP? Does the PDP or the APC have that image? No, I don?t think they have that image. The SDP had that image; they risked it (a same-religion ticket) and it worked. It was the SDP, fielding Abiola and (Baba Gana) Kingibe as presidential and vice-presidential candidates (both Muslims) that won the election.What really has changed between then and now?
I don?t think it is possible, because we don?t have a progressive candidate of the quality and capacity of Abiola today. Nigeria today is not mature enough to consider that as a possibility. The political leadership is too weak; not sufficiently inspiring to make the people feel that it is safe. When we tried it with Abiola and Kingibe, the political leadership, at the time, was okay. Now, it is risky to have that, unless it is a situation where Nigerians collectively accept it. But I think it is safer to avoid it.Some politicians see this emphasis on the religions of candidates as blackmail. Do you agree?
It is not blackmail. It is the leadership that has failed to inspire the people to the extent that they forget their superficial differences. They have not inspired the people enough to make them sacrifice their secondary identities, that is, their ethnic identities. The political leadership has to work hard to convince Nigerians that there is no risk in having a Christian or Muslim ticket.
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