The Tinubu Campaign Organisation (TCO), says choice of Sen. Kashim Shettima as Sen. Bola Tinubu, APC 2023 Presidential candidate’s running mate, is not to ignore religious concerns.
Mr Bayo Onanuga Director, Media and Communication of the TCO, gave the explanation in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja..
Onanuga said that the choice was also not to ignore ethnic sensitivities of Nigerians.
He said the campaign organisation had followed the heated debate that the choice of Shettima as APC vice-presidential candidate had generated in the country because he shared same religious faith with Tinubu.
“Religion or ethnicity was far from the calculations of the APC and its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in picking his running mate.
“If Asiwaju intended to cash in on ethnicity, he would have picked a running mate from the North Western part of Nigeria, which has the highest number of registered voters.
“If he wanted to appeal to the base instincts of religion, he would have also gone for a candidate in the Christian dominated parts of Nigeria.
“But there was no such consideration, instead he picked a tested politician and technocrat from the minority Kanuri ethnic group from the North-East, ‘’ Onanuga explained.
He said the factors at play were issues germane to confronting the multi-dimensional crisis the country was currently faced with, which included: insecurity, economic problems and unemployment crisis facing our youths.
The TCO director recalled that Tinubu canvassed on his track record in Lagos state to win the APC primary last May.
He added that as governor of Lagos state from 1999 to 2007, Tinubu was able to transform a decadent state into the fourth biggest economy in Africa.
“He believes that his feat in Lagos state can be replicated all over Nigeria.
“To assist him in realising this vision, he picked Kashim Shettima, who also established a track record of development in Borno while he was governor of the state for eight years,’’ Onanuga said.
He added that this was despite the Boko Haram crisis, saying that, surely, only the deep knew how to call onto the deep.
According to Onanuga, Nigerians have a lot to gain in having the two tested leaders at the helm of affairs.
He noted that naturally, some Nigerians with closet motives had failed to see the opportunities and possibilities the twin candidates presented to the country at this time of difficult security, economic and political developments.
He added that such Nigerians would rather prefer to fan the embers of religion and ethnic divisions among their unsuspecting and vulnerable compatriots.
He, therefore, appealed to Nigerians to embrace the best elements of our common purpose and reject the campaign and incitement against fellow citizens.
“When Nigerians stand together, they have been known to achieve incredibly positive outcomes, that is the lesson from our history.
“To now succumb to the base ends of identity, by further straining our already difficult ethnic and religious cleavages,
“Is a great disservice to the country and to citizens who had no choice about their parentage, ethnicity or religion at birth, either as Christians, Muslims or traditional worshipers.
“As Nigerians, what should be important to us today and tomorrow is our commonwealth as citizens of this great nation,’’ he said.
He recalled that Tinubu as an individual, had assured Nigerians that he was not oblivious of the religious and ethnic sensitivities of the nation, that he picked Shettima in fulfillment of the country`s overriding interest.
“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.
“But the assurances I bring is that as president, I hope to govern this country toward greatness and progress.
“Deploying the tools of modern innovation to resolve seemingly intractable problems that have dogged our country and hindered our match toward greatness.
“I will not and cannot ignore the religious concerns and ethnic sensitivities of our people.
“I come from a background and orientation of pluralism that understands that the greatest gift contemporary Nigerian leadership needs today is sensitivity to the management of our complex diversity,’’Onanuga quoted Tinubu as saying. (NAN)