APC VP slot: Why I opted for Muslim-Muslim ticket — Tinubu

Presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress,  APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has named former governor of Borno State,  Senator Kashim Shettima, as his running mate.

Tinubu’s action followed the withdrawal of his dummy running mate, Ibrahim Kabir Masari, from the race, yesterday.

The APC candidate announced the choice of Shettima, yesterday, in Daura, Katsina State, while briefing journalists, shortly after paying a Sallah homage to President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Senator Shettima is a close associate of Tinubu, who had been a staunch supporter and campaigner for the choice of Tinubu as the next president of Nigeria,” said Bayo Onanuga, Director, Media and Communication, Tinubu Campaign Organization

“He toured many states with Tinubu since December 2021 where he addressed party delegates and mobilised support for the former Governor of Lagos State,” he added. 

Tinubu’s Muslim-Muslim choice drew sharp reactions from the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, Middle-Belt Forum, MBF, and former Secretary-General of Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Mr. Anthony Sani.

However, Borno State governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, hailed Tinubu for picking his predecessor, which he described as the wisest choice.

Why I chose Shettima, by Tinubu

In a statement announcing Shettima, the APC presidential standard-bearer, who down-played the controversy trailing his Muslim-Muslim ticket, recalled that in 1993, Nigerians embraced Chief MKO Abiola and a fellow Muslim running mate, Baba Gana Kingibe, in one of Nigeria’s fairest elections ever held, saying  “the spirit of 1993 is upon us again in 2023.”

He said as a democrat he consulted widely before settling for Shettima.

His 35-point statement read in part: “To re-envision and reshape the nation, I must compose the best team possible, a team put together with one overriding purpose: to forever establish just, capable, and compassionate governance for the people of Nigeria without regard to religion, region, or ethnic origin.   

“In the weeks since becoming the presidential candidate and standard-bearer of the All Progressives Congress, I have been touched as Nigerians from all walks of life have demonstrated their faith in my capacity to lead this country…

“In full compliance with existing law and regulation, I submitted all necessary documents regarding my nomination as the APC presidential candidate to INEC. But as was expected the choice of my vice presidential running mate remained an open and burning question.  This gave rise to much speculation and debate.

“Recent events and the voluntary withdrawal of my dear friend and brother, Ibrahim Masari, mean that I am called upon, today, to put an end to the speculation.

“I have never been an indecisive man and have no present intention to become one. What I am, however, is a democrat, and a democrat must listen to, and consult with, the people and his advisors so that he may reform and govern wisely and on their behalf. This I have done.

“Having now listened to the sage, careful advice of a broad section of the party and of the nation, there are a few points I feel I must make about the exceptional and extraordinary person with whom I will share the APC ticket and the principles of open and good governance that informed this choice.

“A dominant theme of my political history and my personal life is my staunch belief in our diversity. Greatness lies in embracing our diversity and making it work to enhance the dynamism and justice of our political system. My selection of a running mate comports entirely with this longstanding inclination.

“The concurrence of my party in this matter has been a source of comfort and encouragement. We are truly building a progressive party that not only represents a departure from other political parties but one that truly may well be the best hope for democratic good governance in Nigeria.

“I realize the momentous times we have entered. I know what lies in the balance. I also know that our political choices and activities send both intended and unintended signals to portions of the Nigerian electorate.

“All my life, my decisions regarding the team around and supporting me have always been guided by the principles of competence, innovation, compassion, integrity, fairness, and adherence to excellence.

“When I was Governor of Lagos State, these principles helped me assemble one of the most capable governing cabinets any state or this nation has ever seen. I trust enough in these principles to allow them to, once more, guide me to construct another exemplary team that can do Nigeria proud. 

“Second, this chapter in our country’s history demands a bold yet pragmatic approach, a path already charted by the progressive ethos of the APC. The foundation for sustainable progress has been laid these past seven years by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. The challenges of today are consequential because the lives and livelihoods of millions of Nigerians lie in the balance. Visionary and creative leadership will take us to our goal.

“Our focus, therefore, must be on getting the job done; and that means getting the very best and competent people to do it. In this crucial moment, where so much is at stake, we must prioritize leadership, competence, and the ability to work as a team over other considerations. 

“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. Some have counselled that I should select a Christian to please the Christian community. Others have said I should pick a Muslim to appeal to the Muslim community. Clearly, I cannot do both. 

“Both sides of the debate have impressive reason and passionate arguments supporting their position. Both arguments are right in their own way. But neither is right in the way that Nigeria needs at the moment. As president, I hope to govern this nation toward uncommon progress. This will require innovation. It will require steps never before taken. It will also require decisions that are politically difficult and rare.

“If I am to be that type of President, I must begin by being that type of candidate. Let me make the bold and innovative decision not to win political points but to move the nation and our party’s campaign closer to the greatness that we were meant to achieve.

“Here is where politics ends, and true leadership must begin. Today, I announce my selection with pride because I have made it not based on religion or to please one community or the other. I made this choice because I believe this is the man who can help me bring the best governance to all Nigerians, period, regardless of their religious affiliation or considerations of ethnicity or region.

“May I say this to all of you, especially to those who will be disappointed in my selection based on religious considerations. I will not and cannot ignore the religious concerns and ethnic sensitivities of our people.

Taking them into due consideration is an important part of good and able governance. But religion, ethnicity and region cannot always and fully determine our path. To forge ahead as a nation toward development and prosperity, we must break free of old binds. We must re-calibrate our political calculations to where competence and fairness matter more than reductive demographics.

“This is why, today, I announce the selection of Senator Kashim Shettima as my partner and running mate in the mission to advance and reclaim the fortunes of this great country and the hopes of its people.

“Senator Kassim Shettima’s career in politics and beyond shows that he is eminently qualified not only to deliver that all important electoral victory, but, also, step into the shoes of the Vice President. As a man with the talent, maturity, strength of character, and patriotism he has my implicit confidence and faith.”

Why I withdrew  — Masari

Ibrahim Kabir Masari, running mate to Tinubu, had earlier while withdrawing from the race, said in a statement titled: ‘Resignation As APC Vice Presidential Nominee,’ that his decision was to give Tinubu “more latitude to give more accommodation and inclusion that will position our party to win the coming elections, with the support of the people of Nigeria.”

He said: “This is to inform our esteemed party leaders under our able President Muhammadu Buhari, teeming party members and the great people of Nigeria, of the outcome of a crucial discussion I just had with the flag-bearer of our great party, All Progressives Congress APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. 

“Recall that I had the singular honour and privilege of being nominated as the running-mate to Asiwaju Tinubu last month after a keenly contested presidential primary ahead of the 2023 general elections. 

“But, after much reflection and wider consultations, I now wish to step down. I realized that my decision will enable Asiwaju have more latitude to give more accommodation and inclusion that will position our party to win the coming elections, with the support of the people of Nigeria. 

“In stepping down, I believe I can still serve our party and the country in several other capacities.

“I wish to confirm that I have submitted my withdrawal letter and affidavit to that effect as the Vice Presidential candidate to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the coming elections. 

“On behalf of myself and family, I wish to sincerely thank Asiwaju Tinubu — the incoming President, Insha Allah — for his trust in me and we promise to remain steadfast in our support for him and the party.

We can’t be intimidated, CAN tells Tinubu

Reacting to Tinubu’s choice of a Muslim running mate, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, said it was not moved by the announcement.

The umbrella Christian organisation said its leaders are determined to stand their ground against every form of intimidation, including the floating of a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket by the political party.

The association’s chairman, Kaduna State chapter, Rev. John Hayab, said this in an interview, yesterday.

Hayab said: “We were ready for this announcement. We have put some media outlets on notice. All we are waiting for is the right signal to give a full-blown reaction.

“We’ll escalate this issue because our call for fairness and the balancing of the presidential ticket for the sake of justice, unity and fairness apparently fell on deaf ears.

“However, CAN is strongly determined to sacrifice everything to protect the interest of the Church in Nigeria. We will not be moved by any form of intimidation,” the CAN leader in the Northern region  added.

ACF chieftain faults Tinubu on running mate

Also, former Secretary General of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Mr. Anthony Sani, chided Tinubu for picking Shettima as his running mate.

Sani premised his position on what he called the religious sensitivity of Nigerians at a time many are calling for inclusiveness in the task of nation building.

“The challenges posed by Muslim-Muslim ticket are not so much about winning the elections but about the aftermath of governance in an era some notable Nigerians have alleged Islamization agenda against APC government, however misguided.

“This is because a Muslim-Muslim ticket will provide such persons with more ammunition against the APC government, more so that it will run against the promise by the APC candidate that he will unite the country by making Nigeria feel great again with promise of glory days ahead.”

Sani further noted that a Muslim-Christian ticket is what Tinubu should have settled for in the interest of those who fear religious domination in one form or the other.

“If the APC prevails in the elections with Muslim- Muslim ticket, I hope the regime will be mindful of the challenges and go as far as efforts can go to dispel the misconceptions through good governance in order to render such politics of identity superfluous,” he said.

APC won’t enjoy our support — PFN source

In like manner, a top leader of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, said the party will not enjoy its support.

The source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Our position remains the same. The political parties have been warned that any party that fields a Muslim/Muslim ticket will not enjoy the support of the Christian community. It is as simple as that. It applies now that the APC is throwing up a Muslim/Muslim ticket. The PFN has been saying it repeatedly that any party that flies that ticket, will not enjoy the support of the Christian community.”

It’s dangerous to unity of Nigeria — MBF

On its part, the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, said the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of the APC is a danger to the collective wellbeing and unity of the country, alleging that it is an evil plot that Nigerians would defeat in 2023.

National President of MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, who described Tinubu’s as an unfortunate development that is indicative of the ignorance and insensitivity of the APC to the mood and pains of Nigerians at this point in time.

His words: “It is an unfortunate development, unfortunate in the sense that we are living in a terrible period where the country is being tormented by insurgents from all over the place starting from Borno with Boko Haram and Shettima is from there.

“And if such is coming now without consideration to the plurality of this country with regards to region, religion and other issues, I think it is an unfortunate development.

“And for the presidential candidate of the APC to bow to such a pressure is an unfortunate development. One would wish that they would look at what would be beneficial to Nigeria at this time.

“Nigerians have not recovered from the insurgency coming from mainly Islamic origin. It shows that the APC is insensitive to the plight of Nigeria and Nigerians. And it’s not ready to bring healing, reconciliation and rescue Nigeria from the problems she is facing.

“Now it is also an unfortunate development because this time is not the same with the MKO Abiola time, which was several years ago. These are times that religion should be handled with care.

“We believe that Nigerians, both Muslims and Christians would rise up and defeat this evil because if it succeeds then I doubt if Nigeria will get out of it.

“There are so many suspicious things going on which point accusing fingers to this government, of being complicit or at least being lenient towards the insurgency which is predominantly of Islamic origin. And for this same political party to now foist a Muslim-Muslim ticket, I think is an unfortunate development.

“The ticket poses a danger to the collective wellbeing and unity of the country. At a time when we have insurgents of different forms, Boko Haram, herdsmen militia, ISWAP and others of Islamic religion all from the North and then to say you are foisting on Nigeria a Muslim-Muslim ticket, it is the most unpatriotic presentation at a time like this.”

With Shettima, Tinubu made the wisest choice — Zulum

However, Governor Babagana Zulum described the picking of Senator Shettima as APC’s Vice presidential candidate as the wisest choice made by Tinubu.

Zulum, in a statement, said: “Earlier today, I received with the greatest joy, the announcement of my mentor, Senator Kashim Shettima as the Vice Presidential candidate of our party, the APC and the next Vice President of the Federal Republic under Tinubu, our incoming President. It has been my greatest wish that Shettima gets this elevation that he so much deserves as one of Nigeria’s highly patriotic leaders. 

“For me, and I am sure for many leaders and members of the APC, Tinubu’s choice of Shettima is the wisest choice at this point in time. 

“Shettima’s choice is very personal to me and together with our leaders and all stakeholders and members of the APC, we shall campaign vigorously, work day and night, to collectively secure overwhelming victory for the APC in 2023, insha’ Allah.

“Without the slightest doubt, Tinubu has chosen a leader who has very deep understanding of our country and its complexities. There is hardly any tribe in any of Nigeria’s 36 states and the FCT that Senator Shettima cannot knowledgeably speak about. He knows the social, cultural, religious, economic and political structure of virtually all the 36 States and the FCT.

“Shettima is extremely patriotic. He believes so much in the unity of this country and he has proved it on a number of occasions.

“Shettima’s administration (in which I am honoured to have served as rector and as commissioner) truly reflected the Nigerian configuration.

“Above everything else, Tinubu has chosen for Nigeria, an incoming Vice President, with very deep knowledge not only of the Nigerian economy (challenges and prospects) but also of the world.”

Shettima is perfect as Tinubu’s running mate, says Keyamo

Also  reacting to Tinubu’s choice yesterday, Festus Keyamo, Minister of State for Labour, said Kashim Shettima was “perfect” to serve as the vice-presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress.

Keyamo described Shettima as a “suave gentleman & politician” who was “intellectually fertile, economically sound, [and] intergenerationally mobile”.

The minister added that the former governor was “fiercely loyal” and “phenomenally complimentary” to Tinubu.

“Sen. Kashim Shettima is the perfect choice as VP,” he added.

The man, Kashim Shettima

Senator Shettima, the new running mate played a prominent role in the pre-presidential primaries campaign of Tinubu and has remained visible with the former Lagos State governor since then.

Shettima, who represents Borno Central Senatorial District, was a two-term governor of Borno State. He held sway as governor of Borno State between 2011 and 2019.

He was born on September 2, 1966 in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, to the family of Sir Kashim Ibrahim. He is married to Nana Shettima and they have three children: two females and a male.

He speaks English and Hausa fluently.

According to Wikipedia:  Shettima attended Lamisula Primary School in Maiduguri from 1972 to 1978; Government Community Secondary School, Biu in the southern part of Borno State from 1978 to 1980; transferred to Government Science Secondary School, Potiskum (now in neighboring Yobe State), where he completed his secondary education in 1983.

He studied at the University of Maiduguri and earned a Degree (BSc) in Agricultural Economics in 1989.

He had his one-year compulsory membership of the National Youths Service Corps at the defunct Nigerian Agricultural Cooperative Bank, Calabar, capital of Cross River State, in South-South, Nigeria from 1989 to 1990.

He obtained a Master’s degree (MSc) in Agricultural Economics in 1991 at the University of Ibadan in South-West, Nigeria.

Shettima joined the University of Maiduguri as a Lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Economics and was in academia from 1991 to 1993.

In 1993, he moved into the banking sector and was employed by the now-defunct Commercial Bank of Africa Limited as head of accounts unit at the bank’s office in Ikeja, Lagos State, South-West, Nigeria. Shettima was there from 1993 to 1997.

In 1997, he crossed over to the African International Bank Limited as a deputy manager and rose to become a manager in 2001. In 2001, he moved to the Zenith Bank as head of its main branch in Maiduguri.

At Zenith Bank, he rose to Senior Manager/Branch Head; Assistant General Manager (AGM)/Zonal Head (North-East) and Deputy General Manager/Zonal Head (North-East) before he stepped out of Zenith Bank as a General Manager in 2007 following his appointment as Commissioner for Finance in Borno State.

In mid-2007, Shettima was appointed Commissioner, Borno State Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. Later he became Commissioner in the Ministries of Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs, Education, Agriculture and later Health under his predecessor as Borno State Governor, Ali Modu Sheriff.

From 2007 to 2011, he served as Commissioner in five Ministries. In the January, 2011, during the primary of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, Modu Fannami Gubio was selected as candidate for the governorship poll. However, Gubio was later shot dead by gunmen, and Shettima was selected in a second primary in February 2011.

In the April 26, 2011 elections, Shettima won with 531,147 votes, while the Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Muhammed Goni, gained 450,140 votes. He was inaugurated on May 29, 2011.

He won re-election in 2015 on the platform of the APC and was chosen as the Chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum, an umbrella body of Governors in the 19 States located in northern Nigeria.

In fighting the war against insurgency, he got the approval of the National Security Adviser and the Nigerian Army in 2013, to formalise the establishment of youth volunteers called the Civilian Joint Task Force.

The volunteers have played very significant role in supporting the military in ongoing fight against Boko Haram insurgents.

He approved salaries, kits and patrol vehicles for the civilian JTF, while at the same time giving so much support to the Nigerian Armed Forces.

Although Maiduguri didn’t fall to the insurgents in spite of some attacks, the insurgents succeeded in occupying 20 out of the 27 local government areas of the State before the Nigerian Armed Forces liberated them between 2015 and 2016.

Former Governor Shettima’s leadership credentials have attracted positive recognition within and outside Nigeria.

In February 2019 he became the winner of the Borno Central Senatorial District election, replacing Senator Babakaka Bashir.

Borno Central Senatorial District comprises eight local government areas: Maiduguri, Jere, Konduga, Bama, Mafa, Dikwa, Ngala, and Kala Balge.

Senator Shettima’s leadership credentials attracted positive recognition within and outside Nigeria. Governor Shettima emerged the 2014 Governor of the Year (Leadership Newspapers), Governor of the Year, 2015, (Nigeria Union of Journalists, national body); Governor of the Year, 2015 (NewsWatchTimes Newspapers); Governor of the Year, 2015 (Vanguard Newspapers); Governor of the Year, 2016 (Tell Magazine); 2017 Zik Prize for Leadership; Kaduna NUJ Award for courage and exceptional leadership (2017), FCT NUJ Merit Award for exceptional Leadership, 2017.

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