A processed intelligence report to President Muhammadu Buhari has allegedly said that the decision of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, to nominate a fellow Muslim as the vice-presidential candidate for the 2023 presidential election could escalate the crisis in Nigeria and destabilise the country, People’s Gazette reports.
The document, according to the online newspaper which got to the president through the National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno, said Tinubu should consider the security implications of his selection before making it public, according to three officials briefed on the report.
“The SSS produced the report and handed a copy to the NSA,” an intelligence officer said.
“The NSA looked at the report and added it for security briefing to the president.’’
“Simply put, our understanding is that the alliance will destabilise Nigeria and embolden attacks on Christian citizens from their fellow Muslim citizens,” the official said.
“The distrust Christians are likely to harbour against a presidency occupied by two Muslims won’t make our work easy at the national security level.”
The official said Buhari was not involved in the deliberations that led to Tinubu’s announcement of Kashim Shettima, from the Boko Haram stronghold in Borno, as his 2023 running mate to the ire of Christians across the country.
“People can say whatever they like about the President, but as a senior intelligence administrator I can guarantee you he was not involved in Tinubu’s decision at all,” the official said.
Another official said the report was commissioned after Tinubu became the standard-bearer of the ruling All Progressives Congress on June 8 and started embracing the idea of a Muslim-Muslim ticket as the most potent strategy to be elected as president in an ethnically and religiously polarised country like Nigeria.
Traditionally, northern Muslims have voted more than southern Christians, a traditional pattern which Tinubu looked to exploit, particularly as a similar ticket in 1993 saw the election of Moshood Abiola as president despite picking Babagana Kingibe, a northern Muslim, as running mate.
While the ticket was accepted by Nigerians at the time, the victory was annulled by former dictator Ibrahim Babangida and augured a protracted turmoil across the country.
“Strong intelligence led us to believe that he was passionate about the idea of a Muslim running mate,” the second official, an assistant director at the SSS, said.
“By the time our analysts reassessed the state of the country right now and what would likely come out of a Muslim president and vice-president, everything tilted towards negative and very dangerous times ahead.”
A spokesman for the SSS declined requests to comment on the memo, and both the State House and Tinubu’s campaign headquarters did not respond to requests for comment.
The second official also dismissed questions about whether or not the SSS was injecting itself into uncharted political waters which could warrant serious consequences should Tinubu go on to be elected next February, saying it was after Tinubu had already taken the decision that he informed the president.
“We have it in our files that Tinubu went to the president to ask him about who to pick but the president was very reluctant to contribute and Tinubu noticed this before walking away,” the official added.
“We have a role to play towards safeguarding national security and our report was not intended as a political intervention.”
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