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NASS Comment: Shettima’s call was for national unity – Prof Yerima

Vice-President Kashim Shettima’s call was for national unity, and never to disparage any religion let alone Islam or Muslims, a chieftain of the ruling All…

Vice-President Kashim Shettima’s call was for national unity, and never to disparage any religion let alone Islam or Muslims, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Professor Haruna Yerima, has said.

The academic spoke on Friday while responding to a viral video footage where the vice president was seen purportedly inferring that the most incompetent southern Christian is better than the most puritanical northern Muslim for the senate presidency.

Professor Yerima said Vice President Shettima is a good Muslim, and what he did was a patriotic effort in seeking the preservation of Nigeria’s political diversities and inclusivity.

“It is therefore inconceivable for the same person to be said to be denigrating any religion, and Islam for that matter.”

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He said some mischief makers have deliberately edited (out of context) the video to portray the vice president as denigrating his fellow Northern Muslims.

“It is a political season and desperate politicians can go any length to blackmail and denigrate their opponents. That is exactly what they tried to do to the vice president. What Shettima did was to advocate for political stability by campaigning for a Southerner to be senate president since we had a Muslim president and a Muslim vice president.

“His patriotic appeal for political inclusion and equilibrium was wickedly twisted to mean attack on his Muslim brethren in Northern Nigeria. He was simply but consciously quoted out of contest. This is callous and insensitive to the feelings of Nigerians irrespective of their diversities.

The academic said, in line with Shettima’s advocacy, many communities have adopted zoning in their political equation even before it assumed a national limelight in 1999.

“For instance, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Chief Olu Falae were not the best Nigerians when they were presented as presidential candidates of PDP and AD/APC in 1999. They were both Christians and Southerners. Also, they were presented not because there were no better candidates from the North at that time. In fact, the APP candidate Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, a competent Muslim and northerner, had to step down and pair with Chief Falae in a joint ticket.”

He said, “both Obasanjo and Falae were presented to achieve national cohesion, stability and inclusion, particularly after the June 12 elections annulment. That is

the point Vice President Shettima was trying to make. He was not disparaging Islam or Muslims.”

The former House of Representatives member said the APC, having won national elections, “must be seen to be working towards uniting all the component parts of the country. Like the Vice President said, it is crucial to allow a Southern Christian emerge as senate president, certainly not because there are no better or competent Northern Muslim candidates.”

Prof Yerima said Shettima was vindicated on the floor of the senate on Tuesday when the overwhelming majority of the lawmakers, irrespective of their religious affiliations, voted for a southern Christian as their leader.

“This reinforces our founding fathers’ cardinal objective of unity in diversity. That is the only way the country will achieve its desired potential – by giving a sense of belonging to all the component parts,” the APC chieftain said.

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