The deputy national publicity secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Murtala Ajaka, on Monday, July 11, called on Nigerians to ignore opposition parties’ sentiment of religion, saying the choice of Senator Kashim Shettima as vice presidential candidate had unsettled their camps.
Telescope.ng reports that this was as the New Nigeria People’s Party warned that fielding Shettima as Tinubu’s running mate would be the final nail that would seal the ambition of the former Lagos State governor.
Tinubu had announced the former Governor of Borno State as his substantive running mate after he had a closed-door meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at his residence in Daura, on Sunday.
The announcement also coincided with the withdrawal of the APC placeholder, Ibrahim Masari, who earlier stepped down as the vice presidential nominee.
Masari, the surrogate running mate, stepped aside to pave way for the name of the substantive running mate to be submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission five days to the deadline.
Tinubu, who revealed in his statement on Sunday that he had always been a decisive man, added that he shared same ideology with party leaders, including Shettima.
In a statement released Monday in Abuja, the APC deputy scribe assured Nigerians that the fear of the party’s Muslim-Muslim ticket being nursed in some quarters only existed in the imagination of opposition.
Describing Shettima as a man of knowledge and courage, Ajaka disclosed that the opposition parties, especially the Peoples Democratic Party, had been thrown off-balance and still reeling from Tinubu’s choice of Shettima.
He said: “The sterling qualities of our vice presidential candidate, in person of Senator Kashim Shettima, has once again thrown the opposition parties off-balance. They (PDP and others) would have preferred our presidential candidate to settle for the less so as to make it easy for them to win election (God forbid), but the choice of the trusted and trustworthy Shettima must have disorganised their evil plans, we understand them in the APC.
“While we sympathise with the opposition parties, we appeal to Nigerians, who will eventually be the beneficiaries of good governance under Tinubu-Shettima presidency, to see beyond the sentiments of religion and tribe. Both Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima are not religious fundamentalists or ultra Muslims, their records in public offices are testimonies to rely on.
“As a two-term governor in Borno State, Shettima enjoyed the support of the Christian community throughout his tenure. In fact, the Borno chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) testified that ‘In the history of Borno State, there is no Governor that has been fair to the Christian Community as much as Governor Kashim Shettima.’
“For example, it was Governor Shettima, in the history of Borno, that has sponsored the highest number of Christian Pilgrims every year since 2011 till he left office. This and many other records of mutual respect for all faiths are there to verify in Borno State.”
Ajaka said the APC and its presidential candidate will not be distracted from the goal of winning the 2023 general election at all levels.