The National Stakeholders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) who had initially rejected the idea of Muslim-Muslim ticket by its presidential candidate Bola Tinubu, has changed its position, asking party leaders to close rank for victory in 2023.
The group had rejected the idea of Muslim-Muslim ticket, urging APC presidential candidate to consider a competent Christian from the North but the advice the did not work out, even Tinubu settled for Senator Kashim Shettima, a Muslim.
Addressing a press conference Wednesday in Abuja, Convener of the group, Aliyu Audu, said reaching such important choice Muslim-Muslim ticket must have been a hard nut to crack even for an exceptional leader like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Audu said: “While we may have advocated for the selection of a running mate with a faith different from that of the presidential candidate so as to give the sense of inclusion to followers of both major religions we are aware that in order to build an effectively working society we must prioritize capacity, competence, character over religion and ethnicity especially as prioritising such sentiments in the past have not provided the desired goal of sense of inclusion which can only truly be achieved when all Nigerians experience good governance at all levels regardless of their faith, ethnicity or social class.
“We are however enthused that he approached the decision with all the seriousness, sensitivity and wide consultations it demands and as such believe that he made the best decision in the overall Interest of our unity, national growth, development and progress, without allowing unproductive premordial sentiments to derail or affect our collective goal of building and sustaining a working society where integrity, competence, character and capacity play huge roles.
“This has reaffirmed our trust and confidence in his abilities as a leader to make decisions whose overall interest for the country, either in the immediate or for the future towers above sentiments that are though equally important but not enough requirement for the leaders we need to prosecute the tasks ahead.
“It is on this basis that we call on patriotic and well meaning Nigerians to see this as a confirmation that our next president will not shy away from making tough decisions when the needs arise and that such decisions would be made in the best interest of our collective success while also taking every sentiment into consideration.”
While commending Bola Tinubu for the choice of Shettima, the APC National Stakeholders promised to commit themselves in ensuring not only the victory of the ticket, but one with unprecedented vote and margins ever recorded in the history of presidential contest in the country.
“We are therefore excited by his choice as the APC Vice Presidential candidate and we welcome, embrace and endorse the decision with the believe that it will birth a new Nigeria where ethnicity, religion, gender or place of origin will not constitute impediments to the growth and development of every citizen.
“We commend His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for settling for such an individual not only because he is a preferred choice, but because in reaching that decision, he consulted, listened and added the valuable insights of leading members of the party, political allies and key national figures to his own ideas before Senator Shettima was eventually unveiled as his running mate.
“We must also commend President Muhammadu Buhari for his political leadership and governance as well as acceding to the choice of Shettima as our Vice Presidential Candidate and by the grace of God, the next Vice President of Nigeria.
“Today, we have two leaders of exceptional qualities who would be in charge of our national lives. While they happen to be of the same faith, their antecedents in similar responsibilities they have handled clearly indicates that Nigerians have nothing to fear in terms of their religious interests. Just like he mentioned in his victory speech on the day of the APC presidential primary election that brought him up as the standard bearer, he is aware that no one religion can exterminate another. We just need to truly deemphasize the recognition of religion, ethnicity and other premordial sentiments in our national lives by subjecting both candidates to the test of their competence, capacity, character and commitment.
“Both candidates since the return to democracy built solid foundations upon which their successors are riding on. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu did it in Lagos and successively brought Raji Fashola, Akinwumi Ambode and now Babajide Sanwo-Olu to continue from where he stopped. Kashim Shettima did it in Borno with Prof. Babagana Zulum doing as much from where he left it. Today we have to decide if what we want is upholding the civil rights of Nigerians or promotion of premordial sentiments that has only taken us aback individually and collectively.”