Can, others kick as Tinubu picks Muslim running mate

July 10, 2022

From Fred Itua and Juliana Taiwo-balonye, Abuja, Agaju Madugba, Katsina, Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure and Steve Agbota

The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, yesterday, unveiled Senator Kashim Shettima, Muslim and former governor of Borno State as his running mate, ending weeks of cat and mouse game.

However, the decision to settle for a Muslim-Muslim ticket has elicited wide condemnations from Christians and Northern minorities.

Tinubu disclosed his choice to journalists at the Daura residence of President Muhammadu Buhari. The APC flag bearer arrived Daura to pay Sallah homage to President Buhari who arrived his home town on Friday. The former Lagos State governor was in Daura to pay Sallah homage to Buhari as well as intimate him of his decision to pick Shettima as his running mate.

The former two-term Lagos State governor, who won APC’s presidential ticket at the June 8 special national convention and presidential primary election, had earlier chose Ibrahim Kabiru Masari as place holder for the vice presidential slot.

Tinubu was away in France from June 27 on a short vacation during which he held some strategic meetings. He returned to Nigeria on Saturday early enough for Sallah festivities.

The Sun had last week exclusively reported that Tinubu had settled for North East and that  his choice had been narrowed down to two – Governor Babagana Zulum and Shettima.

Tinubu’s announcement came amidst protests from the leadership of various Christian bodies in Nigeria, especially the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Catholic Bishops. His choice, Daily Sun learnt, does not not enjoy the backing of Northern APC governors especially those from the North West, who had insisted that one of them be picked.

CAN fumes

Mixed reaction has trailed the APC’s presidential candidate’s decision to run a same religion card.

CAN’s spokesperson, Adebayo Oladeji, said Nigerians should be ready to face the consequences of their actions if they endorsed and vote for a Muslim-Muslim ticket. 

“We knew this was what he was going to do and we have warned against it. It is up to Nigerians to decide on what they want.

“You are all alive when we warned Buhari not to allow Muslims to dominate the security architecture of the country and he did it. I think we can see the way the criminals are operating with impunity.

“So, if Tinubu says he is opting for a Muslim-Muslim ticket in a polarised country like ours, if Nigerians endorse him and vote for him, whatever happens, Nigerians will face the consequences.

“If you have a government where a pastor is a vice president and pastors and worshipers are being killed you can imagine what will happen when we have a Muslim-Muslim ticket.

“It is left to Nigerians to make their choice, let them vote them in and we will all face the consequences together.

“We are raising our alarm. It is an irony that Buhari they regarded as an extremist when we raised an alarm to warn him against a Muslim-Muslim ticket, he heeded and opted for a Christian as his vice presidential candidate. ”

APC, Tinubu misfired

PDP chieftain and former presidential aspirant, Alhaji Isa Saulawa, described the Muslim-Muslim ticket as signifying victory for his party, the PDP.

“This is good news for us because it’s an indication that the PDP will return to power in 2023. There is no doubt that whatsoever that the current regime of President Muhammadu Buhari, right from inception, adopted a policy of deliberate marginalisation of the Christian community in Nigeria despite a Christian vice president. So, you can imagine a scenario where we have a Muslim-Muslim presidency. In fact, we are already celebrating the APC and Tinubu blunder.”

It’s best choice -Publisher

Renown newspaper publisher and politics analyst, Malam Mohammed Katsina, described Tinubu’s choice as the best for the APC arguing that Shettima recorded outstanding performance when he was governor of Borno State.

“This issue of Muslim-Muslim ticket is irrelevant and it’s my view that Nigerians should rise above such pedestrian sentiments and forge ahead for the overall development of the country. There is nothing wrong with Muslim-Muslim ticket or Christian-Christian ticket in a democratic setting.

“If you take Kaduna State as a case study, you see that the Muslim-Muslim ticket is viable where the governor is Muslim and the deputy is also Muslim.

It’s not best arrangement -Kwankwanso

The presidential candidate of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso, said Muslim-Muslim ticket agenda is not a good arrangement.

Speaking in an interview on national television last night, he said so many things have changed in the country since 1993 when MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe, both Muslims, ran on the platform of the then Social Democratic Party (SDP) and won.

“In 1993 in SDP, I was deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, we found ourselves in a similar situation where we had a Muslim-Muslim ticket. That was almost 30 years ago and in 2023, it would be exactly 30 years. And so many things have changed in this country. The possible thing to have changed is the quality of leadership that we have seen over the years, which allowed Nigerians to, unfortunately, take to their cocoons in terms of religion, ethnicity region and so on.

“That is why NNPP will do whatever it can to bring Nigerians together but for now I believe the persons and people who are talking about Muslim-Muslim tickets will soon know that is not the best arrangement. And it is just a matter of time they will realize the mistake of doing it,” he said.

Why I settled for Shettima – Tinubu

Regardless of the criticisms, Tinubu has said the ticket represents a milestone in Nigeria’s political annals, just as it was when Abiola chose Kingibe.The 1993 presidential election which was won by Abiola is adjudged to be the freest and fairest election in Nigeria’s history.

Tinubu’s statement read in part: “All my life, my decisions regarding the team around and supporting me have always been guided by the principles of competence, innovation, compassion, integrity, fairness, and adherence to excellence.

“When I was governor of Lagos State, these principles helped me assemble one of the most capable governing cabinets any state or this nation has ever seen. I trust enough in these principles to allow them to, once more, guide me to construct another exemplary team that can do Nigeria proud.

“Second, this chapter in our country’s history demands a bold yet pragmatic approach, a path already chartered by the progressive ethos of the APC. The foundation for sustainable progress has been laid these past seven years by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. The challenges of today are consequential because the lives and livelihoods of millions of Nigerians lie in the balance. Visionary and creative leadership will take us to our goal.

“Our focus, therefore, must be on getting the job done; and that means getting the very best and competent people to do it. In this crucial moment, where so much is at stake, we must prioritize leadership, competence, and the ability to work as a team over other considerations.

“ I am mindful of the energetic discourse concerning the possible religion of my running mate. Just and noble people have talked to me about this. Some have counselled that I should select a Christian to please the Christian community. Other have said I should pick a Muslim to appeal to the Muslim community. Clearly, I cannot do both.

“Both sides of the debate have impressive reason and passionate arguments supporting their position. Both arguments are right in their own way. But neither is right in the way that Nigeria needs at the moment. As president, I hope to govern this nation toward uncommon progress. This will require innovation. It will require steps never before taken. It will also require decisions that are politically difficult and rare.

“If I am to be that type of President, I must begin by being that type of candidate. Let me make the bold and innovative decision not to win political points but to move the nation and our party’s campaign closer to the greatness that we were meant to achieve.

“Here is where politics ends, and true leadership must begin.”

Tinubu added: “Senator Kasim Shettima’s career in politics and beyond shows that he is eminently qualified not only to deliver that all important electoral victory, but, also, step into the shoes of the vice president. As a man with the talent, maturity, strength of character, and patriotism he has my implicit confidence and faith.

“I am aware that many will continue focus on a particular detail, the question of his faith.

“However, if we truly understand the challenges upon us a nation, then we must also see the imperative of placing competence in governance above religious sentiment.

“In 1993, Nigerians embrace Chief MKO Abiola and a fellow Muslim running mate, Baba Gana Kingibe in one of our fairest elections ever held.

“The spirit of 1993 is upon us again in 2023.

“As such, the ticket we present today represents a milestone in our political history. It symbolises our party’s determination to be a leading light among political parties in Africa.”

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