Muslim-Muslim ticket: Pope didn’t oppose my appointment as Campaign DG – Lalong

August 10, 2022
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Lalong
Governor Simon Lalong
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August 10, (THEWILL) – Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, has said his appointment as the Director General (DG) of All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council is not against his Christian faith, despite being a Muslim/Muslim ticket.

Lalong said the Pope, who is the head of the Roman Catholic Church, to which he belongs, has not faulted his decision to accept the job of ensuring the victory of Bola Tinubu and his running mate, Kashim Shettima, in the 2023 election.

The Governor spoke on Wednesday, during an interview with State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

His appointment as the DG of the APC Presidential Campaign Council last week had generated some controversy with many believing that it was made to assuage the feelings of northern Christians.

The decision of the ruling party to field a Muslim/Muslim ticket has generated an uproar, most notably the Christain Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Northern APC Christian Leaders, led by Babachir Lawal, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Lalong, who maintained that he respects his faith as a Christian, noted that he was elected governor for people of all faiths and non-believers as well, adding that since politics is about interest, he is a member of the APC and will not engage in anti-party activities.

He said when he returned to Jos upon his appointment as the DG recently, the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), welcomed him.

The governor said he is, therefore, not sure where those who claimed to be Christians and are opposing his appointment as against their faith are coming from, adding that as a Catholic, he has one of the highest awards from the Pope; the Knight of Saint Gregory the Great.

Lalong, who said he has accepted the job and there is nothing anyone could do, also denied reports that he lobbied to become the running mate to Tinubu

Lalong said he met the President to thank him for the approval for several projects cited in Plateau State, as well as the Presidential pardon granted to former Governor of the State, Joshua Dariye and his Taraba State counterpart, Jolly Nyame, who were recently released from incarceration.

He added: “The President is Chairman of the Campaign Council. Therefore, as DG, I will come regularly to brief him on certain things that we are planning.

“The other aspect of my visit to Mr President is to show him appreciation for what he has done in Plateau State in the last few months. A week or two ago, we got approval, making the University of Jos a Cancer Centre. I saw over N3 billion approved for a special Centre for Cancer.”

Other projects he said were approved by the President include the establishment of the only Orthopaedic Hospital in the North Central in Plateau State, a Federal Medical Centre in Wase, a Federal Polytechnic which starts operation in October, the conversion College of Education, Pankshin, into a Federal College of Education and approval for the creation of another Federal College of Education.

He also mentioned the establishment of the Nigerian Law School for the North Central zone in Jos saying, “You cannot have all these achievements and not come and show appreciation to Mr President.”

The Plateau Governor said he did not lobby to be the vice-presidential candidate for Tinubu even though there were people lobbying for him.

He urged those who lost out in the race for the vice-presidential running mate not to use him to fight their war, saying: “In fact, I am a member of the APC, a founding member of the APC. I don’t do anti-party activities. Some people said because I was denied VP. I did not lobby for VP. Yes, many people were lobbying and writing on my behalf, but what I have always wanted to be and obtained is the form for the Senate. I have a senatorial ticket that I am waiting for.

“So, if at any time some people who wanted the VP lost out and they’re using religion, they should not use me to help them. We are already far. We’re talking about leadership. We’re talking about the problems we have, addressing the problems of Nigeria, and all we’re talking about is good leadership. We can come from any region.”

On whether his new appointment will not negatively affect the governance of Plateau, he argued: “We are using technology now. What is the distance from here (Abuja) to Plateau? It’s 20 minutes if you are going by air. Just as I’m leaving this place, I have a Plateau Executive Council meeting. I have capable hands that are taking care of the state.

“So, I have no fear. That was why I mentioned it, that I have no fear about my time. This is not the first assignment I’m doing. I’ve been handling assignments from the federal government, from the party while sitting as governor of Plateau State.”

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