The emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s vice-presidential candidate has ruffled the feathers of many Nigerians who believe that every presidential ticket must reflect Nigeria’s religious and ethnic diversity. It was based on this argument that a staunch supporter of Bola Tinubu and a member of the APC, Daniel Bwala announced his sudden resignation from the party. Bwala stated that “tonight, I officially resign my membership of APC on principles and conviction that I hold so dear. At this time of our national existence, our efforts and energy should gravitate towards uniting our people.”
While many have strongly condemned Tinubu’s decision, it is important to ask the question; is this the first time a major political party is presenting a presidential candidate and his vice from the same religion?
In 1979, during the 2nd republic, Chief Obafemi Awolowo (a Yoruba Christian) of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), contested with Philip Umeadi (an Igbo Christian) and almost won the ticket, only losing out by a meager 4.59% to Sheu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). Worth mentioning also, is that Awolowo’s party, the UPN, presented the then Lagos state governor, late Alhaji Lateef Jakande, who was the governor between 1979-1983, and his running mate, Alhaji Rafiu Jafojo, who were both of the same religion.
In more recent years, the 1993 elections also featured candidates of the same religion. Alhaji Moshood Abiola nominated Kingibe Baba Gana as his running mate on the platform of the Social Democratic Party and subsequently won the election in that year, defeating Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention.
If the argument is that the major political parties should show more diversity with how they pick their candidates, then there is a point to be made. However, it is false that a major political party in Nigeria has never produced candidates of the same faith to run on their ticket.