MURIC Defends Buhari, Says Aguiyi-Ironsi First Experimented With Same Faith Leadership

. PFN: Muslim-Muslim ticket’ll jeopardise Nigeria’s co-existence 

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

The raging debate over the Muslim-Muslim preference for the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC), took another dimension as the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has said the first Nigerian military head of state, Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, experimented with. Same faith leadership, when he picked a Christian deputy in 1966.

But the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) has said the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was not in the interest of the country as it would jeopardise peaceful co-existence.

MURIC, which carpeted the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, over his comment that President Muhammadu Buhari started the same religion leadership in 1983, said the assertion was not correct.

 Kukah, had in an interview, said to discuss the 2023 APC Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket, Nigeria must return to “scene of the crime” in 1983, when Buhari appointed Tunde Idiagbon, as his deputy.

According to Kukah, “In 1983, when General Buhari came in as head of state, he took Idiagbon. Sadly, Nigerians were very excited. Maybe that is where we should have returned to as a scene of crime. 

“It broke tradition, completely. The whole issue was that two Muslims from the north of the same religion would govern Nigeria, but Nigerians gave them that concession,” he said.

But MURIC, while countering Kukah  in a statement by Ishaq Akintola, its director, said the Catholic bishop was being “economical with the truth” on the history of same religion leadership.

According to the group, “Father Kukah was being economical with the truth. We all know that Nigeria’s same faith leadership phenomenon started long before Buhari became military head of state.

“The sad thing is that some people find it convenient to fall victim of collective amnesia, when it comes to Muslim-bashing. Fortunately, there is also a crop of truth seekers, who are keen on putting the records straight and MURIC is pleased to be counted among them.

“How can anyone claim that Buhari started same-faith leadership, when we all know that Nigeria’s first military head of state, Major-General Thomas Umunakwe Aguiyi Ironsi, picked a fellow Christian, Brigadier Babademi Ogundipe, as deputy in 1966. He did not stop there.

“He also made another Christian, Admiral Joseph Edet Akinwale Wey, his third in command. Ironsi’s all-Christian regime was succeeded by another all-Christian leadership led by General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) with Admiral Joseph Edet Akinwale Wey as his second in command.

“In retrospect, we note that Nigerian Muslims did not complain about Christian-Christian leadership for once throughout this Christian administration and Gowon ruled for nine good years from 1st August 1966 to 29th July, 1975.

“The question MURIC is asking is this: if the Muslims can tolerate a Christian-Christian leadership for nine years (1966-1975), why can’t Nigerian Christian leaders stomach the idea of a Muslim-Muslim ticket?

“Today’s Christian leaders have one major characteristic in their Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid (DNA). It is intolerance. Unfortunately, DNA is the main constituent of chromosomes and it is self-replicating. Therefore, this intolerance chromosome in today’s Christian leaders may not disappear too soon.

“Political clerics may get away with falsehood, deceit and half-truths on the pulpit, but they cannot maradonise Nigerians with any historical inexactitude in public discourse.

“The facts before us prove that Kukah was economical with the truth. He should cross-check his facts properly next time he speaks in public. Nigerians are adept at fact-checking,” the group stated.

However, replying the National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Adamu, National Secretary of PFN, Bishop Cosmos Ilechukwu, told journalists at the end of its extraordinary joint meeting of its National Advisory Council and the National Executive Council, that some political parties chose to ignore the counsel of PFN that same faith ticket, be it Christian-Christian or Muslim-Muslim, would not augur well for the unity and future of Nigeria.

“The PFN noted that even in the face of the unprecedented level of disunity in the country, some of the political parties and politicians have acted in disregard of the fragility of the times we live in, made worse by the poor management of our fault lines, thus further polarising the country,” it stated.

While restating the non-partisan stance of PFN, he said the body would not endorse any candidate but would mobilise its members to vote in line with what is best for Nigeria and the church at all levels, with the framework prepared by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

He said PFN would continue to collaborate with like-mind organisations and individuals to ensure that the 2023 elections delivered a ticket that would further the unity of Nigeria.

Adamu had said the Muslim-Muslim ticket fielded by the party was the best winning formula and best option that Nigerians need at the moment.

Speaking with BBC Hausa service, Adamu also noted that the Muslim/Muslim was the best strategy for the APC to win the forthcoming general elections.

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