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2023: Why I chose Shettima as running mate – Tinubu

From Saawua Terzungwe, Abbas Jimoh (Abuja), Tijjani Ibahim (Katsina), Hassan Ibrahim (Maiduguri) & Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos)   The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress…

From Saawua Terzungwe, Abbas Jimoh (Abuja), Tijjani Ibahim (Katsina), Hassan Ibrahim (Maiduguri) & Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos)

 

The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has announced former Borno State governor, Senator Kashim Shetima, as his running mate for the 2023 general elections.

He made this known in an interactive session with reporters when he paid Sallah homage to President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura, Katsina State, on Sunday.

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Alhaji Kabiru Ibrahim Masari, whose name he had earlier submitted as his running mate, tendered his resignation in a letter to the party on Sunday.

Tinubu was accompanied to Daura by Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, shortly after his aircraft landed at the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Airport in Katsina State.

He briefed reporters about the choice after a closed-door meeting that lasted about an hour with Buhari.

He said, “We have a very good period of the season, this time of the year and to really pay homage to him (the president) and then share part of his holiday and lunch and equally discuss the question of my substantive running mate.

“The only one that was in place has withdrawn today and there was an announcement already to replace him with Kashim Shettima. I have not discussed it with him; I have disclosed it to you since I have disclosed it to the president,” Tinubu told reporters.

When asked about the strength and formidability of his party ahead of the general elections, the former Lagos State governor said, “We are going to win Insha Allah because we are a progressive party. We have the focus on Nigeria’s problems and we will face the challenge squarely. We are not running away from it.

“We have a better programme for the people and about the people and ready to serve. Within a short period of time, there will be a good foundation for infrastructure. We face the challenges of terrorism, we know that. It is only a poor thinker and observer that will not recognise the challenge. But once you recognise a challenge, you can prepare yourself very well and defeat it,” he said.

Tinubu justifies picking Shettima

Prior to the unveiling of Shettima, the polity was heated up over a single-faith ticket.

While the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) rejected the idea and warned parties against it, some stakeholders asked Nigerians to focus more on competence than sentiment.

Speaking on settling for Shettima as running mate, Tinubu in a statement 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.

He said he consulted widely on the issue of running mate and he appreciated the perspectives of leading members of the party, political allies and key national figures “who see Nigeria’s future as I do”.

Tinubu said the belief in prioritising leadership, competence, and the ability to work as a team over other considerations influenced his running mate choice.

“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 advised 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 reasons 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 towards 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.”

To those who might feel displeased by his action, 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 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 towards 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.”

‘Placeholder’ Masari, resigns

Earlier in the day, Masari had said his resignation followed a “crucial discussion” he had with Tinubu.

The letter read in part, “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 election.

 “But after much reflection and wider consultations, I now wish to step down. I realised that my decision will enable Asiwaju to 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 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.”

He’s made the wisest choice – Zulum 

Borno State governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, has described Tinubu’s pick of Shettima as the “wisest choice” for the party.

 Zulum, in a statement released through his media office from Saudi Arabia, said he received the announcement of his “mentor” with the “greatest joy”. Shettima anointed and handed over to Zulum as governor of the state.

 The governor said, “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, HE Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has chosen a leader who has a 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 Kashim 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.” 

 He picked Shettima to score goals – Afenifere 

When contacted, the national publicity secretary of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, Jare Ajayi, stated that the choice of Shettima was a political decision meant to score political goals.

 He said, “Serious politicians contesting for elective positions do so to win. They employ various strategies they consider capable of helping them to realise their ambition. 

 “Tinubu is a Yoruba man from the South-West while Shettima is Kanuri from the North-East. Tinubu is a Muslim just as his running mate, Shettima, is also a Muslim. 

 “Major criticism of this choice is on the basis of the president and his vice being of the same faith, Islam in this case. As I stated in a statement in May, the issue of the faiths professed by our leaders became a factor in Nigeria because we have been experiencing bad governance. Were we to be governed well, governed justly, equitably and fairly, no one would have bothered about the religious inclination of the person in charge. 

 “But because most of those who occupy political offices in Nigeria were not fair on various yardsticks used to measure good governance, that is why primordial sentiments such as tribe, religion, etc became major factors.” 

 Afenifere spokesman noted that much as the majority of Nigerians would have wished that Tinubu picked a Christian as his running mate, the decision as to whom to choose lay squarely with the presidential candidate and his party, “as such, we have little to say”.  

 APC support group hails choice

 Also, the Forum of Buhari Support Group (FOBS-G) has commended the choice of Shettima, describing him as a politician who has all the qualities to complement Tinubu and move the nation forward. 

 Chairman of the Forum, Dr Abiso Kabir, on Sunday in Abuja, said Shettima as governor, formalised the establishment of youth volunteers called the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) that had played a very significant role in supporting the military in the ongoing fight against Boko Haram insurgents.

 He said the senator also focused so much attention on the expansion and remodeling of existing schools and the building of new boarding primary and junior secondary schools to cater to over 50,000 unaccompanied orphans whose parents were killed by insurgents across the 27 local government areas of the state.