The presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu raised eyebrows on Sunday after confirming former Governor of Borno State, Sen. Kashim Shettima, a non-Christian as his running mate.
Naija News understands that the announcement was received with a barrage of reactions as Tinubu’s choice of running narrowed down to a Muslim-Muslim ticket despite several admonitions by concerned bodies to consider a Muslim-Christian ticket.
Prior to the development, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had vehemently rejected the idea of a single-faith-ticket, urging political parties to focus more on competence than sentiment.
Tinubu who ended with a Muslim-Muslim ticket has, however, defended his reasons for not picking a Christian as his running mate.
The former governor of Lagos State said all his life, decisions regarding the team around and supporting him had always been guided by the principles of competence, innovation, compassion, integrity, fairness, and adherence to excellence.
Tinubu said his decision to pick Shettima was arrived at after wide consultation.
The APC national leader said he appreciates the perspectives of leading members of the party, political allies and key national figures “who see Nigeria’s future as I do”.
Tinubu said both the Muslims and Christians have approached him to state their reason for wanting him to pick his running mate from their faith.
The Presidential candidate said he considers arguments from both sides to be correct, but that neither was right in the way that Nigeria needs at the moment.
Tinubu said the belief in prioritising leadership, competence, and the ability to work as a team over other considerations influenced his running mate choice.
He said: “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.”
Addressing Nigerians who might have felt disappointed by his decision, Tinubu said: “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 recalibrate our political calculations to where competence and fairness matter more than reductive demographics.”