There was palpable tension at the National Secretariat of the ruling All Progressives Congress in Abuja, on Wednesday, as hundreds of demonstrators stormed the building to register their grievances over the decision of the ruling party to go ahead with its plan for a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket in the 2023 general elections.
The protesters stormed the party’s Secretariat at about the same time the APC was unveiling former Borno State governor, Senator Kashim Shettima, as the running mate to its Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja.
The protesters led by some party members under the aegis of APC Hausa-Fulani Youth Forum, arrived at the party’s Secretariat in six luxury buses and few cars, bearing various placards and chanting solidarity songs.
Inscriptions on some of the placards read, ‘A cry for justice’, ‘Drop Shettima and give slot to our Christian brothers’, ‘Discrimination and mutual suspicion in our country,’ among others.
Convener of the Forum, Abdullahi Bilal Mohamadu, warned that the protests would not stop until the party takes the right steps.
Mohammadu stated their decision to protest on a day the party was officially presenting Shettima as Tinubu’s running mate was deliberate to express their grievances and ensure it got the attention of the appropriate authorities.
Also in a letter addressed to the National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, the protesters described Shettima’s selection as an aberration that should be corrected immediately by the leadership of the party.
According to the letter, “We write to your good office in light of the prevailing circumstances arising from the decision of our Presidential candidate to select a Northern Muslim as his vice presidential candidate.
“While it must be stated that there is a right to make decisions, however, such decisions must not be made to the collective detriment of the sensibilities of the people that make up the country of Nigeria especially at a time of mutual suspicion amongst the Christians and Muslims in the northern part of the country.
“As concerned stakeholders of the APC and those who constitute the voting strength of our party , we find it worrisome that such a decision could be taken without recourse to its implication on the electoral chances of the party and the attendant uproar such a decision could bring about in the country.
“In our opinion, this is insensitive and a gross display of a lack of respect for our Christian brothers and sisters especially the Middle Belt minority who have given all their best to us as one northern Nigeria. Picking another Muslim from the north eastern part of the country as his running mate is politically and morally indefensible.
“In Northern Nigeria, there are credible candidates with rich credentials and with massive grassroots following that can complement the presidential ticket of the APC in the presidential elections. As such, the Hausa – Fulani Youths Forum sees the selection of Senator Kashim Shettima as an aberration that should be corrected with immediate effect by the relevant authorities within the party.
“The implication of non-action in this regard can only be imagined, so much so that the majority of the eligible voters in Northern Nigeria have elected to boycott the APC in protest of the disrespect and disregard to our Northern Christian brothers , whose population and relevance in the scheme of things in the region cannot be overemphasized.
“If our party is desirous of recording electoral success in the 2023 presidential elections, it must retrace its steps by selecting a Christian from the Middle Belt as its vice presidential candidate. The party must not be perceived as promoting a religious agenda by fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“We consequently say no to a Muslim-Muslim ticket by the APC. We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to kindly intervene to save the party from an electoral crisis. We urge Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to emulate the example of President Muhammadu Buhari in the choice of his running mate in the 2015 and 2019 presidential elections.
“Our Christian brothers and sisters deserve a place in the scheme of things, and our party must not be seen as a religiously insensitive party. The time to act is now.”