There are widely circulated claims on social media that the first and only indigenous Governor–General of Nigeria (1960–1963), and the first President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1963–1966), Nnamdi Azikiwe, a Christian, also had another Christian as his running mate for the Presidential Election in 1979.
Since the nomination of the former Governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima as the running mate to the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu which signifies a Muslim-Muslim ticket for the 2023 election, there are widely circulated claims that some past prominent presidential candidates also had Christian-Christian tickets.
One of the claims on social media that was widely circulated on WhatsApp stated thus: “In 1979, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe and Prof. Ishaya Audu of kaduna state ran upon Christian/Christian. You want to know the party? Later![sic]”
Late Chiefs Obafemi Awolowo of the then Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and Nnamdi Azikiwe of the Nigerian People’s Party (NPP)
were principal opponents of Alhaji Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), a grade school science teacher who emerged victorious in the 1979 elections.
In 1979, five political parties competed in a series of elections in which Alhaji Shehu Shagari was elected president. Obasanjo peacefully transferred power to Shagari, becoming the first head of state in Nigerian history to willingly step down.
Sparks of heated comments between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria broke out shortly after a Muslim running mate to a Muslim Presidential flagbearer broke on the media. Some Christians claimed that it is unjust for the APC presidential flagbearer Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu to select a running mate considering the state of affairs in the country.
Hausa Christian, Prof. Ishaya Audu was the running mate of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in the 1979 presidential election under the Nigerian People’s Party, NPP.
Azikiwe along with Ishaya Audu won three states and polled 2,822,523 as against Shehu Shagari’s 9 States and 5,688,857 votes.
Who was Ishaya Audu?
He was born on March 1, 1927, in a village near Zaria called Anchau in Kaduna State, to a father who had converted from Islam to Christianity.
He had his first education at St. Bartholomew’s School in Wusasa. He moved to Yaba Higher College in Lagos and then to University College, Ibadan which has been renamed the University of Ibadan in 1948. In 1951, he proceeded to the University of London in England 1951, where he stayed until 1954.
Audu was the first Professor of Medicine from Northern Nigeria and the first indigenous and longest-serving Vice-Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, for 9 years (1966-1975).
In 1955, he studied at the University of Liverpool, England. He got married to Victoria in 1958 with whom he had six children.
Audu was also a personal physician to Sir Ahmadu Bello and President Shehu Shagari.
He died on August 29th, 2005, at the age of 78 while in the United States with his son, Paul Audu.
Dr. Azikiwe picked Prof. Audu for a Christian-Christian Ticket in the 1979 presidential election.