Opposition against the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC, yesterday, grew as the Forum of Northern Christians reiterated its position on the same-faith ticket, saying it would not back down.

The forum is headed by the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara.

But a top APC leader tackled Dogara, describing him as a fifth columnist.

Bola Tinubu, a Muslim emerged as the presidential candidate of the APC for the 2023 elections, while former governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, emerged as his running mate.

This came on a day Governor of Delta State and Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, yesterday, took a swipe at Bola Tinubu, over the controversy that has trailed the party’s Muslim-Muslim ticket.

Our position on same-faith ticket stands Dogara, however, said it will meet with all the presidential candidates, across party lines and come up with its preferred choice.

Dogara met behind closed doors with Christian leaders from the 19 Northern states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, in Abuja in continuation of their consultations ahead of the 2023 general elections.

It was gathered that aside the former speaker, others in attendance include former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr Babachir Lawal; an APC Senator from Adamawa State, Elisha Abbo; former Kogi State Deputy Governor, Simon Achuba and all state chairmen of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, from the 19 Northern states and the Federal Capital Territory.

Confirming the meeting in a tweet posted on his verified Twitter account, yesterday, Dogara wrote: “#NigeriaDecides2023: The fight for justice continues. Today (yesterday), we held a consultative meeting with Christian leaders from the 19 Northern States and the FCT on the pan-Nigerian platform to adopt in 2023.”

The forum had recently convened a summit of Northern Christian Leaders in Abuja where they rejected the adoption of a Muslim-Muslim Presidential and Vice Presidential ticket by the ruling APC.

No going back on opposition to Muslim-Muslim ticket—CAN chairman

Also confirming the meeting to Vanguard, the CAN Chairman in Kaduna State, Rev. John Hayab, said: “The meeting was well attended in person by all the CAN chairmen from the North except Katsina state.

“We are saying it’s no going back on our stance against the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the APC.”

Asked which political party the Northern Christian leaders have decided to throw their weight behind, Hayab said: “We will meet with leading Christian politicians across party lines to consult with them before deciding on our next line of action.

“We will also wait for signals from the (CAN) national body. They will also point us on the way to go, but the Muslim-Muslim ticket is out of the equation.

“What we had expected from the APC was for them to call the Church together and explain themselves rather than hiring impostors to impersonate genuine Christian leaders.”

Dogara, Lawal are fifth columnists — Party source

But lampooning the former speaker over his opposition, a top APC leader described him as a fifth columnist. The party leader, who spoke to Vanguard in confidence, also tackled Dogara and former SGF, Mr. Babachir Lawal describing them as paperweight politicians.

The source, who is familiar with the workings of the APC, said: “Dogara is a spent force. He was looking for the VP slot, as far as we are concerned, Dogara and Babachir Lawal just want to be noticed. Based on my understanding of how politics is played in the north, the likes of Dogara and Lawal are paperweight politicians as far as northern politics is concerned and also within the Christian community.

“During the last elections, what did they bring to the table from their various local governments? How many people can Babachir Lawal convince to vote for him in Adamawa State? How many people can Dogara convince to vote for others in Bauchi? Dogara is a minority in his state but in spite of that, Muslims supported him to become Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“They are fifth columnists as far as we are concerned. I see it as an attempt to demystify the myth around religious politics in Nigeria because an average Nigerian is not bothered about where you come from as long as you give him the basic needs. Look at the Vice President, how has his Vice Presidency benefitted any Christian in Nigeria?

The thing is staring them in the face that Bola Tinubu will win in 2023 and that is why they are looking for a way to thwart his victory.