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By Clifford Ndujihe, Henry Umoru, Ndahi Marama, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Omeiza Ajayi, Peter Duru, Chioma Onuegbu, Bashir Bello, Ike Uchechukwu & Ogalah Ibrahim, LAGOS

The polity was literary astir, yesterday, as mixed views greeted Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s selection of former Governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima, as his All Progressives Congress, APC running mate for the 2023 presidential election.

Governors elected on the platform of the ruling APC, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila and some big shots of the party among others hailed Tinubu’s choice, boasting that with Shettima, the party’s road to electoral victory has been paved.

However, elder statesman and South-South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, the Bishop of Calabar, Anglican Communion, Rt. Rev Nneoji Egbe and Middle-Belt Youths, picked holes in APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket, warning that it is a threat to the country’s unity and well-being.

The APC said that opposition parties in the country had been thrown off balance by the choice of Senator Shettima as  running mate.

The party’s position came on a day Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje; Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, said the Tinubu/ combination will ensure victory for the APC at the 2023 polls.

Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Murtala Yakubu Ajaka, who spoke of the fret of opposition parties over Shettima’s choice, said in a statement that Tinubu and Shettima are not religious fundamentalists.

The statement read:  “The sterling qualities of our vice presidential candidate, in the person of Senator Kashim Shettima, has once again thrown the opposition parties off balance.

“They would have preferred our presidential candidate to settle for less so as to make it easy for them to win the election but the choice of the trusted and trustworthy Shettima must have disorganised their evil plans.

“While we sympathise with the opposition parties, we appeal to Nigerians, who will eventually be the beneficiaries of good governance under Tinubu-Shettima presidency, to see beyond the sentiments of religion and tribe.

“Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima are not religious fundamentalists or ultra Muslims, their records in public offices are testimonies to rely on.

“As a two-term governor in Borno State, Shettima enjoyed the support of the Christian community throughout his tenure. ‘In fact, the Borno chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, testified that ‘In the history of Borno State, there is no governor that has been fair to the Christian community as much as Governor Kashim Shettima’.”

Ajaka said Shettima has respect for the Christian faith and sponsored many Christians for pilgrimage during his tenure as governor.

Tinubu’s running mate, one of Nigeria’s finest – APC governors

Speaking in like manner, the APC Progressive Governors Forum, described the running mate of Tinubu as one of Nigeria’s finest.

The APC governors made the remark while addressing the press after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at his Daura home, yesterday.

Chairman of the PGF, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, who addressed the press on behalf of his colleagues, described Tinubu’s choice of Shettima as a pleasant surprise.

Bagudu said: “Shettima will bring a lot of value to the presidential ticket. So, we are quite pleased and we pray that his formidable capacity will complement the well-known formidable capacity of our presidential flag-bearer and Nigerians will indeed be convinced that this is about the best team of the party that 2022 primaries has produced.

“We are very proud  of this and we congratulate Mr president, that under his leadership one of the most transparent primaries took place with the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as our presidential flag-bearer. 

“We, the governors are very proud and equally, we are very happy and proud that the vice presidential candidate is no less a person than Kashim Shettima and we believe that they will bring action to the campaign.”

Among the governors who visited the president in his Daura home town on Sunday were Dr Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, Simon Lalong of Plateau, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa, Abdullahi  Ganduje of Kano, Hope Uzodimma of Imo, Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna, and Aminu Masari of Katsina State.

Tinubu, Shettima a combination for APC’s victory — Ganduje

Speaking in a similar vein yesterday, Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, said the combination of Tinubu and Shettima will guarantee APC victory in next year’s elections.

The governor, in a statement issued by the Commissioner for Information, Muhammad Garba, described Shettima as quick-witted and prepared for the office of vice-president.

He noted that during the pre-presidential primaries campaign, he shared common experience with Shettima who played a major role and brought to the fore his qualification, competence and exposure.

Lawan, APC North-East caucus hail Shettima’s choice

Also reacting, Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, said the party and Tinubu made excellent choice in selecting Shettima as his running mate.

“Asiwaju Tinubu and our party have made an excellent choice in Senator Shettima. The former two-term governor of Borno State entered public service with impeccable credentials, which he has burnished by demonstrating great competence, integrity and courage in all the positions he has held.

“His background in academics and the private sector prepared him for the achievements he has recorded in politics as governor and since his election to the Senate in 2019.

“A loyal and committed member of our party, Senator Shettima has what it takes to be an excellent running mate to our flag bearer, and insha Allah, the Vice President of Federal Republic of Nigeria from next year.

“We of the North-East caucus of  APC attest that Senator Kashim Ibrahim Shettima is the right man for the job and that he will be an able and loyal lieutenant to our incoming President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, insha Allah.”

Tinubu/Shettima ticket is victory for APC, says Gov Buni

On his part, Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, congratulated Tinubu on his choice of a worthy vice presidential candidate, Kashim Shettima.

The governor, who was former Chairman, APC Caretaker Committee, described the Tinubu/Shettima ticket as a victory ticket for the party. “The combination of Tinubu and Shettima makes the party stronger to approach the Presidential election next year with a clear victory.’’

Governor Buni said the APC presidential and vice presidential candidates were people with bountiful wealth of experience in governance to make Nigeria great.

“Their administrative competence, skills and success stories have adequately prepared them for the leadership of the country. Nigeria has a lot to gain from the Tinubu/Shettima administration when elected into office,” he said.

Shettima’s choice as running mate wise decision by Tinubu -Gbajabiamila

To House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the choice of Senator Shettima as Tinubu’s running mate is a wise decision.

Gbajabiamila expressed delight that Tinubu settled for one of the best hands for the job of Nigeria’s vice president.

He said Shettima has over the years proved his mettle as a shrewd and progressive politician whose eight years as governor of Borno State – from 2011 to 2019 – was a defining moment for the state.

“Asiwaju is widely known as the biggest talent hunter in the country who has over the years assembled an army of performers in governance irrespective of their ethnicity or religious leaning. This unique feature also can be found in Senator Shettima following his track record of excellence in both the private and public sectors,” Gbajabiamila said in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi

The Speaker added that the Tinubu/Shettima ticket was a good combination that will lead to success at the polls for the APC.

Tinubu, APC’ve made perfect choice — Sani Musa

Chairman, Senate Services Committee, Senator Sani Musa, APC, Niger East, described   the nomination of Senator Kassim Shettima, as the running mate to Tinubu as a perfect choice. 

In a congratulatory message he personally signed, Musa who hailed the nomination of Senator Shettima, said that his nomination is a testimony to the very good qualities which he possesses as a knowledgeable, loyal, dependable, a trusted professional and a politician. 

The statement read: “ On behalf of my family and the people of Niger-East, I heartily congratulate you, Senator Kassim Shettima on your well deserved nomination as the Vice Presidential candidate to our presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for the 2023 general elections.

“I must state unequivocally that your nomination is a true testimony of the qualities you possess as one who is intellectually fit, economically sound, knowledgeable, dependable, trusted professionally and politician and with you, Asiwaju Tinubu and our party have made a perfect choice.”

Nigeria’s problem not about religion, says A-Ibom APC chieftain   

A former member of the House of Representatives and a chieftain of the APC in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Eseme Eyiboh, said that the challenges plaguing Nigeria ranging from insecurity, poverty, and dwindling fortunes is not as a result of religion.

Eyiboh who is the House of Representatives candidate of the APC for Eket Federal consituency, made the assertion yesterday in Uyo, while reacting to ongoing controversy in the country over the choice of  former governor of Borno state, Kashim Shetima, another Muslim as APC vice presidential candidate.

He  hailed the combination of Ahmed Bola Tinubu and Shettima for the presidency, stressing that Nigerians should remove the issue of religion from the country’s governance.

Eyiboh emphasized that what  Nigeria needs to come out of her present critical state is transformational leadership.

“Nigeria needs transformational leadership, regardless of tribe, religion and primordial sentiments. Nigeria needs leadership that will be able to transform this country to where we will grow, have opportunities and where people will have trust and ownership in governance,” Eyiboh stressed.

Tinubu’s decision will further worsen Nigeria’s precarious situation – Clark

However, former Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark faulted Tinubu’s choice of Shettima, a fellow Muslim as his running mate.

According to Clark, who is the  convener of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, the Muslim-Muslim is a threat to Nigeria’s unity.

Clark wondered if the action of Tinubu is not a pointer and confirmation of Islamisation agenda in the country. 

In a statement yesterday in Abuja on the Muslim- Muslim ticket , Clark asked if Tinubu was trying to portray to Nigeria and Nigerians that there are no Christians in the APC from the North who are “competent, capable and reliable.”

The statement read in part: “I feel threatened for our beloved country because of the way things are going. Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation, with Christianity and Islam as the major religions, even though Nigeria is a secular state.

“In compliance with constitutional provisions of inclusiveness, the number one and number two positions in the country, viz, President and Vice President, have always been occupied by practitioners of the two major religions, to ensure balancing.

“It will be recalled that the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives’ Congress, Alhaji Ahmed Bola Tinubu, could not be chosen in 2015 as Vice President to Muhammadu Buhari, because he is a Muslim and Muhammadu Buhari is a Muslim. Alhaji Ahmed Bola Tinubu, in his own words confirmed this in his statement in Abeokuta, Ogun State. What has changed? “One quality of a good leader is consistency. A good leader must act in the same way at all times, to all people. He must not display double standards.

“Today, what has the presidential candidate of the APC, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu done? He has picked a person of his religion, a Muslim, as his running mate. Such choice is not inculsive, it is not good for a secular state like Nigeria.

“There is presently a sharp division in the country, even on religious lines, and all patriots are seeking ways to salvage the situation. Therefore, Alhaji Tinubu’s decision to take a fellow Muslim as his running mate will further worsen the situation in the country. He should know that patriotism is a quality of a good leader.   

“On the reasons adduced by Alhaji Tinubu for choosing Kashim Shettima as running-mate is the APC presidential flag bearer telling Nigerians that there are no Christians in the APC from the north who are “competent, capable and reliable?” 

“There are rumours of an attempt to Islamise the country. Are all these pointers to the confirmation and actualisation of such rumours?

“One needs to bear in mind the antecedents of the major backers of Alhaji Ahmed Tinubu’s ambition, which include Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, the Governor of Kano State, and the chosen one – Kashim Shettima.

“Both the Governor and Deputy Governor in Kaduna State, are Muslims, a blatant action by the Governor, Nasir el-Rufai. Unfortunately, the APC Gubernatorial candidate for the 2023 election is following suit. Is there a deliberate move of making Kaduna an Islamic State? Unconfirmed statistics put the ratio of Christians and Muslims in Kaduna State as 50/50; some statistics even put it as 55% for Christians and 45% for Muslims, yet Nasir el-Rufai, despite complaints and agitations by people not only from Kaduna State, but from the entire country, ‘decided’ to pick a Muslim as his deputy. 

“It is illusion to think that except one is from the North, you may not win election. So, the idea that unless you come from the North or you are a Muslim or a Muslim supports you if you are not a Muslim, you cannot win an election, should immediately be jettisoned by proponents of such an idea. The North needs the South to be in power, same way the South needs the North to be in power. No part can do it alone.

“About 46% or more of Nigerians are Christians.  Yet a group of persons want to sideline and exclude them from the affairs of the country. This is not possible.

“The question is, is Alhaji Bola Ahmad Tinubu under pressure from these his core supporters and backers, to pick a Muslim as his running-mate, and did he cave in to the pressure because ‘it is his turn to be President of Nigeria,’ despite complaints and protestations?

“The PDP is the cause of these things because of its refusal to zone its presidency to the South.

“These are dangerous signals. Alhaji Ahmed Tinubu cannot compare 2022/2023 with 1993. In 1993, majority of Nigerians, on their own volition, supported the Muslim/Muslim ticket of MK O Abiola and Babagana Kingibe of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), as President and Vice President, 29 years ago.

“It was not shoved on them; it was not forced on them. Also, during that period, Nigeria was not so divided on ethnic and religious divides. If people are complaining, a good leader should listen. Unfortunately, we have leaders who not only ignore the concerns of the people with impunity but also make crass statements. 

“The insecurity, the fate of Nigeria as a failing state as it is today, did not exist in 1993. The killing of Christians, especially Catholic Priests, the forty (40) persons killed at the Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State; what happened at the Kuje Medium Correctional Centre a few days ago, where about 1000 inmates, including about 63 Boko Haram terrorists were freed, the attack on the Kaduna bound train, and the killing of some and abduction of several of the passengers, does not speak well of the times we are in.

“They are all signs of a failing state and ought to make everyone to be very cautious in our actions. And nobody should aggravate the situation. Those who are leaders should remember that power is transient.”

APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket unacceptable — Anglican Bishop of Calabar

To the Bishop of Calabar, Anglican Communion, Rt Rev Nneoyi Egbe, the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the APC as unacceptable.

Prof. Egbe made this known in Calabar on Monday while briefing newsmen on the second session of the 11th Synod of the diocese.

His words: “We absolutely do not, will not and cannot accept a Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket. Nigeria’s secularity must be respected by our leaders,   everybody must have a sense of belonging.

 Nigeria’s democratic process was built on a wrong foundation, having examined the Nigerian Constitution, it’s place in our polity, the application to our nationhood, we have arrived at the conclusion that Nigeria’s democracy is a scam. A comprehensive scam,” he stated.

While calling for a proper review of the 1999 constitution as amended   , the   Bishop maintained   that many of our institutions were built on lies.

He said: Our institutions are built on lies and that is why we cannot fight corruption”.

Bishop Egbe who bemoaned the high level of insecurity in the country and called for State Police explained that denying Nigerians this was the height of insincerity stress that the call for citizens to own guns would only make situation worse.

“Denying Nigerians this,   is evidence of government’s   insincerity in securing the Nigerian environment against elements that are pursuing their evil agenda, hence calling on the citizens to own guns would only worsen the situation.

“Those kidnapping men of God and collecting ransom would pay dearly with their lives,” he said.

Speaking, Bishop Egbe further said   that the country’s current economic reality was abysmal.

  “The current economic situation in this country leaves in its wake a trail of tears, the insensitivity exhibited by our leaders to the plight of the common Nigerian is alarming.

He added that the government was indifferent about   the future of the country,   that’s why it has allowed tertiary education to remain grounded for several months following industrial action by academic Unions.

Adamawa senator faults Tinubu’s Muslim/Muslim ticket, resigns from support group

The Senator representing Adamawa North on the platform of the APC, Ishaku Abbo , has resigned from the Party over the choice of Kashim Shettima as the Vice Presidential candidate of Tinubu . He said APC Muslim/Muslim Presidential Ticket would not augur well for the peace and stability of the country.

His statement: “We sat down in Abuja and strategised, and we concluded that he should not take a Muslim as running mate. He (Tinubu) threw away the report. My conscience will not allow me to campaign for Tinubu. I am a member of CAN; I cannot deny CAN. I remain in APC. But I will take the survival of my country first over political considerations.

“It is very irresponsible of Tinubu to take his political survival over the stability and peace of Nigeria.

“For Tinubu now to be given the ticket and turn around to do what he couldn’t achieve in 2015 despite opposition from Catholics and other Christian leaders is extremely irresponsible.

“Buhari fought a civil war and understands the consequences of a divided nation. When Tinubu wanted to be VP in 2015, Buhari said no because he understood the importance of unity.

“We cannot work for such a man. I will oppose (a) Christian-Christian ticket because I am invested in the stability of this country. A Christian-Christian ticket will be insensitive to Muslims of this country.

“The country is evenly divided among Muslims and Christians. So any government that is Muslim-Muslim will be illegitimate and will never gain the respect of Christians.”

Bwala, Deputy Senate president’s special adviser quits APC

Disappointed with the Muslim-Muslim ticket, Mr. Daniel Bwala, a chieftain of the APC and special adviser to Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege, on Legal Matters, yesterday, resigned his membership of the party.

He tweeted on his verified Twitter handle: “Tonight I officially resigned my membership of @OfficialAPCNg on principles and conviction that I hold so dear. At this time of our national existence, our efforts amd energy should gravitate towards uniting our people.”

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