September 25, 2022

Muslim/Muslim Ticket: Inside story of Tinubu’s meeting with northern clerics

Muslim/Muslim Ticket: Inside story of Tinubu’s meeting with northern clerics

•Three questions PFN Bishops asked APC candidate 

•I can’t share cake that has not been baked —Asiwaju

By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja

More details have emerged on what transpired at a meeting of Arewa Church leaders under the aegis of Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria with the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. 

The forum was held last Thursday at the APC Presidential Campaign Headquarters in Abuja.

Most of those in attendance had rejected Tinubu’s decision to pick a fellow Muslim from the North, Senator Kashim Shettima, as running mate.

An insider, who spoke exclusively to  Sunday Vanguard said the Pentecostal bishops were meeting for the first time to engage the APC candidate on the rationale for his “divisive” decision as well as his plans for Christians in the North.

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The source hinted that the group, led by Archbishop John Praise, grilled Tinubu on three questions considered to be of fundamental concern to Christians in the North, but were not particularly impressed with some explanations given.

But the clerics,  Sunday Vanguard gathered, were still reviewing the outcome of the meeting and would take incisive actions afterwards.

The source said: “We were led to the meeting by the Deputy President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Archbishop John Praise, who made it clear from the onset that it was not an endorsement event, but a forum to listen to Asiwaju with a view to understanding why he paid deaf ears to the outcry against his party’s Muslim-Muslim ticket.

“To buttress his point and set the tone for the engagement, he quoted John 7:51 which reads, ‘’Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him find out what he has been doing?’’

“We asked Tinubu three burning questions agitating the minds of Christians in the North. First, we asked him: What are your plans for Christians in the North in light of your insistence on picking a Muslim vice-presidential candidate from our region?

“We also asked him to respond to the remarks by Shettima at the NBA Conference that he will oversee security while Tinubu will direct the economy. Finally, we asked the APC presidential candidate for his views on the incessant attacks on Christian communities in the North.” 

Similarly,  Sunday Vanguard gathered from multiple insiders that Tinubu extensively spoke of the Muslim-Muslim controversy in a bid to allay the fears of the Northern Christians and assuage any negative feelings among his guests.

“For our first poser to him, Asiwaju said much, but to summarise his response, he simply told us he cannot talk about sharing a cake that has not been baked.

“His response to our second question was that the Constitution specified the roles and responsibilities of the President and his vice. So, there is no doubt about who will do what in the office if they win 2023,” one of the sources added.

On the perceived Jihad ongoing in Christian communities in the North, another source told  Sunday Vanguard that Tinubu said he would not be part of such an extremist agenda, stating that he has not Islamised his immediate family and wouldn’t do so to over 200 million persons.

The clerics were said to have told him that they would go back and consider his ideas to allow them to take action in Nigeria’s best interest.

Also speaking, another source added: “However, some of us are not satisfied with his reasons for picking Senator Kashim Shettima as his running mate. He failed to convincingly justify the fact that in all the eight Northern states dominated by Christians there was no qualified, politically exposed and upright Christian fit for the office of the vice president of Nigeria.

“We believe that Tinubu himself, like most of us at the meeting, is at a loss on how to convince Christians that he will not sideline the Church.

“How can we work for a presidential candidate who appears to be already sidelining people that are not of his faith?”

Vanguard News Nigeria