The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu has said that questioning his choice for a Muslim as running mate for the 2023 presidential election is irrelevant to the wellbeing of Nigeria.
The former Lagos State Governor said he didn’t choose Kashim Shettima so that they could form a same faith ticket.
The APC presidential candidate stated this on Wednesday during an interaction with the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at the National Ecumenical Centre, Abuja.
Accompanying Tinubu to the interaction with Christian apex body is his wife, Oluremi Tinubu, the Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma, Governor of Kano State Abdullahi Ganduje.
Others are former governor of Abia State Orji Uzor Kalu, Speaker House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and other chieftains of the party and other serving Senators.
Recall that CAN commenced an interactive session with presidential candidates on Tuesday with the Presidential Candidate of Action Alliance (AA) leading the interaction.
Tinubu had who is a Muslim from the Southern part of the country has come under attack especially from Christians for choosing former Borno State governor, Shettima who is also a Muslim as his running mate ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
Tinubu said he selected Senator Shettima thinking more about who would best help him govern.
“Well, I did not choose Senator Shettima so that we could form a same faith ticket. The ticket was constructed as a same progressive and people- based ideology ticket.
“I offer a confession. I selected Senator Shettima thinking more about who would best help me govern.
“Picking a Christian running mate would have been politically easier. But the easy way is rarely the right one. The selection of a running mate is at once a very momentous yet very intimate decision.
“Resting such a key decision on religious affiliation as the primary weight did not sit well with me. I am not saying there were not good and adequate potential running mates of the Christian faith.
“What I am saying is that the times we inhabit do not lend themselves to the good or adequate. We have urgent problems that lend themselves not to a Christian or Muslim solution. We need the best solution.
“Every time I thought about it, and I did think a lot; I came to the same conclusion: Kashim Shettima
“His faith was immaterial. He is a brilliant man with superior intellectual capacity. He is studious and detailed oriented. Enjoying excellent organization skills, Shettima fully understands the vital difference between governance and politics.
“This exceptionally gifted human being has humility of spirit, courage of his convictions and a strongly progressive world view in harmony with my own perspectives on government and its relationship to the governed”, he said.
Furthermore, Tinubu said “I trust the calibre of the man. I know the great lengths he went in fighting Boko Haram in his state. He did his best to protect the Christian community and rebuilt damaged churches.
“This man understands the value of our national diversity in all of its ramifications, including religious. He possesses the courage to stand up to those who would wreck that diversity and freedom.
“I chose him because I wanted a progressive
government and people with ideology
“He said those against Muslim-Muslim ticket in APC lobbied him to become his running mate but he turned them down.
Speaking on his plans for the country, Tinubu said if elected, the funds that were previously used for the subsidy will be invested in public transportation and other infrastructure, education, and health.
“We shall end the fuel subsidy because it has become an unproductive policy favouring an elite that needs no favours while giving the people precious little.
“Let us advance to the economy point where no parent is forced to send their children to bed hungry and no one is fearful that tomorrow will bring more lack and poverty”, he stated.
Tinubu further stated that once elected as President, fiscal power and authority shall be recalibrated to give the states more latitude to better fulfil their mandate of grassroots development and empowerment of people and local communities,
On security, he said his government will not relent until terrorists, kidnappers and criminals quit their malign ways or are completely defeated.
“We shall augment our security forces and use advanced technology to track and defeat these evil groups. They want to destroy our peaceful way of life. We shall destroy theirs first” he added
While concluding, the former lawmaker said if elected, his door will be open to the leadership of CAN.
“You will be consulted regularly on the affairs of the state. I know that you will be talking to other candidates as is your right and duty. It would be inappropriate of me or anyone to ask for your support. What I ask for is your understanding of my policy direction and the rationale concerning my running mate selection”, he stated.
While presenting their proposal earlier, the CAN Vice President, Reverend Stephen Baba- Panya said there is need for state police or fully decentralized police authority.
“Clear and unambiguous religious neutrality of the Nigerian state. Enforcement of fundamental rights of all Nigerians, including economic and social rights. Restructuring to decentralize governance
“Equitable and enforceable sharing of executive positions. Ethnic and religious representation in military and security agencies. Self-determination for all Nigerian people.
“No to Ruga, yes to ranching. Education and free healthcare to all Nigerians (including Almajiri). No open grazing (rather modernization of animal husbandry) Local control of local economy, including waters, rivers, and forest”.
He said the Christian community in Nigeria is worried that Nigeria is slouching towards complete state failure.
“We are worried that disorientation in public leadership makes this a self-fulfilling prophesy. But we are reassured by the words of the scripture that whenever a people recognize their errors and make amend, God of justice will show them mercy and the land will be healed. Nigeria is not a lost case”, he added.