The presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu yesterday in Daura, Katsina State, revealed his choice of running mate as Sen. Kashim Ibrahim Shettima.
LEADERSHIP reports that Tinubu’s choice of the former Borno State governor, Shettima, is a throwback to 29 years ago in 1993 general election when business mogul and philanthropist, MKO Abiola, a Muslim, chose Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, also a Muslim, as his vice presidential candidate under the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the aborted Third Republic.
The Abiola/Kingibe ticket was to emerge victorious in the presidential election on June 12, 1993, only for the election to be annulled by the military junta of General Ibrahim Babangida.
Tinubu announced his long-awaited choice of a running when he and other top officials of the ruling party paid a Sallah homage to President Muhammadu Buhari in his hometown of Daura yesterday, according to a statement issued by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu.
Shettima, a serving Senator representing Borno Central, is a former governor of Borno State.
“After conferring with President Buhari, the APC presidential candidate, accompanied by Governor Aminu Bello Masari, told newsmen that the president had to be properly notified, before an announcement would be made.
“Asiwaju said the choice was based on the competence of the candidate.”
This is as Alhaji Ibrahim Masari, whose name was submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the placeholder of Tinubu’s running mate, has tendered his resignation from the post.
In a statement he personally signed and issued yesterday in Abuja, Masari said his decision will enable Tinubu to position APC to win the coming elections.
He said, “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 primaries ahead of the 2023 general elections.
“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.
“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,” Masari stated.
He, however, said in stepping down, he believes he can still serve the APC and the country in several other capacities.
The Tinubu Campaign Organisation has confirmed Masari’s withdrawal as running mate to Tinubu.
A statement by interim national coordinator of Bola Tinubu Campaign Organization, James Faleke, confirming the development said: “Alhaji Masari has communicated his decision to us from Saudi Arabia where he is presently performing the lesser hajj.
“While saluting Alhaji Masari’s sacrifice, we believe this will give Asiwaju Tinubu an opportunity to take a decision that will further enhance the chances of our great party in the 2023 elections.”
Only Muslim-Muslim Ticket Will Guarantee Tinubu’s Victory – APC Chieftain
Backing Tinubu’s choice, a chieftain of the ruling APC in Kaduna State, Dr Usman Garba, said only a Muslim-Muslim ticket will guarantee victory for party in the 2023 presidential election.
Dr Garba, who was APC senatorial aspirant for Kaduna Central in the just concluded primary election, argued that Muslims occupy a greater percentage in the North and picking a Christian in the present circumstance will be a political miscalculation capable of robbing the party of victory in the region and, by extension, the country.
He said Tinubu is the most qualified of all the presidential candidates, with full capacity and competence incomparable with other candidates from the other parties, but that he must have a popular running mate to emerge victorious.
According to him, “Forget the insinuation that because PDP candidate is from the North, then we are going to lose in the North. Those saying that don’t have touch with history, or they have forgotten that Abiola defeated Bashir Tofa in Kano in the 1993 presidential election.
“Nigerians and northerners are very conscious and very knowledgeable when it comes to choosing their leader. They want a capable leader, and going by history, none of the other candidates has the record of Tinubu in terms of good governance delivery. He is somebody who has mentored other leaders and he has national spread,” he said.
Speaking on the Muslim-Muslim ticket, Hon. Garba tackled people singling out the ruling party for criticism, saying: “Why are people only concerned about APC doing Muslim-Muslim ticket? Politics is all about strategy for winning election and in the current situation, it is strategic to pick a Muslim from the North,” he stressed.
“You see, the issue of Muslim-Muslim ticket is something that people are over-blowing and making unnecessary case about. The issue is, how will you win election? Whether Muslim or Christian, the people that will mobilise and help the party win in election is the person you are looking for. If at the end of the day, we come to realise that there is a Christian in Northern Nigeria, which the party can pick, and help mobilise and win election, we can pick the Christian, but if we put the equation together and realise that is not balanced itself, we will drop it.
“We have been picking Muslims from the North and Christians from the South. We know that predominantly people from the South are Christians, while people from the North are Muslims, but this time around, the game has changed – a Muslim from the South won the election, now in the issue of picking somebody from the North, we have to be very careful and conscious, because predominantly people living in the North are Hausa-Fulani Muslims, which you can say they are about 80 per cent.”
According to him, it is this consideration that pushed the party to settle for Muslim as running mate to Tinubu.
Why Asiwaju Settled For Former Borno Governor
Apparently responding to and preempting further agitations trailing the choice of a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket by individuals and interest groups, including the Christian Association of Nigeria, Tinubu further explained his choice of Shettima by invoking the June 12 spirit.
In a statement he personally signed yesterday, the presidential candidate of the APC said the spirit of June 12 is upon the country once more ahead of the 2023 polls, recalling that in 1993 Nigerians embraced Muslim-Muslim ticket.
He said: “In 1993, Nigerians embraced Chief MKO Abiola and a fellow Muslim, Baba Gana Kingibe as running mate in certainly one of our fairest elections ever held. The spirit of 1993 is upon us once more in 2023.”
Tinubu said he chose Shettima as his running mate as part of his plans to advance and reclaim the fortunes of Nigeria and the hopes of its folks.
He stated: “Senator Kasim Shettima’s profession in politics and past reveals that he’s eminently certified. As a person with the expertise, maturity, energy of character, and patriotism, he has my implicit confidence.
“I’m conscious that many will proceed to deal with a selected element, the query of his religion. However, if we actually perceive the challenges upon us as a nation, then we should additionally see the crucial need of inserting competence in governance above non-secular sentiment.”
The former Lagos governor explained that in settling for Shettima, he prioritised nationwide development and improvement above “religious sentiments”.
Reeling out Shettima’s credentials, Tinubu said the former Borno governor’s profession in politics and past reveals that “he is eminently qualified to deliver that all-important electoral victory”.
He added that if Nigerians actually understand the challenges confronting the country, they would place competence in governance above non-secular sentiment.
Tinubu said, “I’m aware of the energetic discourse regarding the faith of my running mate. Just and noble folks have talked to me about this. Some have counselled that I ought to choose a Christian to please the Christian neighbourhood. Others have mentioned I ought to decide on a Muslim to enchant the Muslim neighbourhood. Clearly, I cannot do each.
“Both sides of the controversy have spectacular motives and passionate arguments supporting their place. Both arguments are proper in their very own approach. But neither is true in the best way that Nigeria wants in the intervening time. As president, I hope to govern this nation towards unusual progress. This would require innovation. It would require steps by no means earlier taken. It will even require choices which might be politically troublesome and uncommon.
“Here is the place politics ends, and true management should start.”
“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.”
Muslim-Muslim Ticket Will Not Work, A lot has changed after Abiola’s time – MBF
The Middle Belt Forum (NBF) has totally rejected Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu selection of a running mate, insisting that Muslim-Muslim ticket will not work.
The Middle Belt Forum said a lot has changed after the MKO Abiola’s 1993 presidential election, and that with the selection of Sen Kashim Shettima (Borno Central) as running mate to Tinubu it shows that the APC has fielded a Muslim-Muslim, and Nigerians are going to work against such discrimination.
Tinubu Has Made The Wisest Choice – Gov Zulum
Meanwhile, Borno State Governor Babagana Umara Zulum has described the choice of former Governor and Senator representing Borno Central at the National Assembly as running mate by the All Progressives Congress ( APC ) presidential flag bearer, Sen. Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the wisest choice.
Zulum said this in a special statement he personally signed and issued to Journalists on Sunday in Maiduguri.