by George Agba and Tunde Oguntola (Leadership)
Apparently unsettled by the growing protest against its choice of a Muslim-Muslim ticket, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has postponed the official unveiling of former Borno State governor, Ibrahim Kashim Shettima, as running mate to its presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
All was set for Shettima to be formally presented to the party leadership as Tinubu’s running mate by 1pm yesterday at the APC national secretariat until it was later announced that the event has been postponed.
Though no reason was given for the abrupt change of plan, LEADERSHIP gathered however, that it may not be unconnected with furore over governing party’s choice of a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
The party’s deputy national secretary who was said to have announced the postponement of the event said a new date would be announced in due time,probably be sometime next week.
Stiff opposition had trailed Tinubu’s announcement on Sunday of Shettima as his running mate after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura, Katsina State.
Responding to criticisms against the choice of a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket by individuals and interest groups, including the Christian Association of Nigeria and Catholic Bishops, Tinubu explained his choice of Shettima by invoking the June 12 spirit.
The presidential candidate of 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 noted: “In 1993, Nigerians embrace Chief MKO Abiola and a fellow Muslim operating mate, Baba Gana Kingibe in certainly one of our fairest elections ever held. The spirit of 1993 is upon us once more in 2023.
“As such, the ticket we current at present represents a milestone in our political historical past. It symbolizes our occasion’s dedication to be a number one mild amongst political events in Africa.”
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.
The former Lagos governor explained that in setting for Shettima, he prioritised nationwide development and improvement above “religious sentiments”.
Party’s Support Groups Reject ex-Borno Governor
But the protest against Muslim-Muslim ticket continued yesterday, with the coalition of APC support groups nationwide rejecting the choice of Senator Shettima as running mate to Tinubu for the 2023 general election.
Accordingly, the support groups asked the governing party and its presidential candidate to reconsider the choice of running mate of the party, and give support to the preferred candidate of Nigerian youths in the person of Dr Ibrahim Bello Dauda.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, the APC groups said the choice of Tinubu was a bad decision with grave repercussions if not reversed immediately.
A position paper to this effect was signed by Igwe Ude-umanta, convener, Coalition of APC Groups; co-convener, Solomon Adodo and heads of other groups.
The coalition stated: “We call on the Leadership of All Progressives Congress, Progressive Governors Forum and His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to reconsider the choice on running mate of the Party, and give support to the Nigerian Youths’ nomination of a young Vice Presidential Candidate by picking Dr Ibrahim Bello Dauda to whom we all rally round and give all our fullest support nationwide ahead of the 2023 Presidential Election. He is the Nigerian YOUTHS SYMBOL.
“This group is standing firm on “Nigerian Youths Inclusion” and hence urging the APC Leadership to give a space to the youths to exercise their civil rights to actively participate and make a choice of leadership.
“We emphasize the fact that this Coalition of APC Support Groups has found Dr Ibrahim Bello Dauda (EL DABI), a true detribalised Nigerian Youth Leader worthy to be the running mate and Vice President to His Excellency Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the next political dispensation.
“It is worthy of note that Dr Ibrahim Bello Dauda’s catholic gestures has endeared him to all Nigerians (Christians and Muslims alike). He has touched lives beyond religious barriers through all his philanthropic and humanitarian platforms, throughout the length and breadth of our noble nation, Nigeria.”
The coalition noted that the call for Dr Dauda is a unanimous one from various endorsements of more than 100 support groups nationwide “who have heavily thrown their weights and consummate support behind this loyal, ever promising young political technocrat.”
The coalition of APC support groups argued that most of the political leaders in the country became ministers and governors at their prime age of late 30s and 40s, and were given that opportunity and support by the elders and leaders.
“The question now begging for answers is: Why now are they frustrating youths who are eminently qualified to be selected as Vice Presidential Candidate?” The groups queried.
They further stated: “The ruling APC and its leadership should hearken to the voice of the Nigerian youth now, as this will reaffirm the much touted promise made by the ruling party APC on Youth Inclusion in governance. And to reassure the Youths of the genuineness of the Bill “NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN” signed into Law by our youth friendly and indefatigable APC leader, President Muhammad Buhari GCFR, the party must reconsider its position.
“In conclusion, we also advise the Nigerian Political Class, APC Leadership and our Baba, His Excellency Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu not to underestimate the rekindled will and determination of the Nigerian Youths to change the political narratives of our noble nation, Nigeria.
“In one VOICE, we say that this group and other hundreds of Youth Support groups across Nigeria assure APC and our Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of all our unalloyed support and Votes ONLY and ONLY if APC Leadership and His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (Jagaban) grants our request and goes by ‘Bola Ahmed Tinubu & Ibrahim Bello Dauda’ sacred Youths Mandate.
“The Youths will no longer play the role of only supporting the old politicians. We are willing to participate in politics and function appropriately in governance.”
Babachir Insists Muslim-Christian Ticket
Also, a former secretary to government of the federation (SGF), Engr Babachir Lawal, again reiterated his stance against Muslim-Muslim ticket settled for by the governing APC ahead of the 2023 elections.
Babachir who had been a vocal supporter of Tinubu condemned the decision of the presidential candidate.
Speaking yesterday during an interview he granted Arise TV yesterday, Babachir said Tinubu’s choice was a direct attack on Christians in the country, adding that it also antagonises the wishes of Christians.
Babachir stressed that because Nigerians hold religion in high esteem, Tinubu’s choice also jeopardises the wishes of the Christian in all geopolitical zones of the country.
He recalled that when President Muhammadu Buhari picked Yemi Osinbajo as his running mate in 2015 it was not necessarily about the votes, but about him representing an interest.
On whether Shettima’s name should be removed, he said Tinubu and the party should consider their options, noting that nobody should aspire for the number one position in the country if he doesn’t understand the religious factor.
He said the president should first seek to unite the country.
On Tinubu’s choice, he said, “It is a direct attack on Christian in the country. It also antagonizes their wishes. Nigeria takes religion first. It jeopardizes the wishes of the Christian in the North, East, and South.”
He added that he can’t vote for his brother who is a vice president and forget his brother who is a Muslim and contesting for president.
Meanwhile, this coming as the deadline for submission of names of candidates for the 2023 general election to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) elapses by 12 midnight today.
INEC had said it had created a Nomination Centre at its headquarters where it can receive and process nominations sent by political parties ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The electoral umpire also set up telephone lines to serve as Help Desk for the parties in case they need any kind of assistance from the commission.
NNPP’s Kwankwaso Picks Bishop Idahosa As Running Mate
Meanwhile, presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, yesterday named Bishop Isaac Idahosa as his running mate for the 2023 presidential election.
Bishop Idahosa, the presiding Bishop and Senior Pastor of the God First Ministry, Lekki Light Centre, Ajah, hails from Edo State.
The 57-year-old archbishop-designate is a trained of Automobile Engineer from the Kaduna Polytechnic.
A statement by his media aide, Muyiwa Fatosa, Kwankwaso said the choice of Bishop Idahosa was made after careful considerations and meticulous screening of more than 20 prospective candidates all of whom were eminently qualified to run with him.
“Idahosa was selected because of his outstanding record, his impeccable integrity, his broad understanding of the Nigerian State and its contemporary challenges, his undiluted commitment to improving the conditions of Nigerians, and his sincere believe that a New and Better Nigeria is possible if we work together with sincerity, tolerance, competence, and faith.
“A self-made achiever and a credible Nigerian, Bishop Idahosa is also selected because he represents the definition of a true role-model for the Nigerian Youth.
“Sen. Kwankwaso expresses happiness that this patriotic Nigerian man-of-God will work with him in the journey to save the country from the current drift and create a new Nigeria where justice, equity, fairness, unity, security and development are assured.
“Bishop Isaac Idahosa will be publicly and official unveiled to Nigerians on Monday 18th July, 2022 at the International Conference Centre, Abuja by 10am,” he stated.
He’s Not A Threat To Us In Northwest – APC
But the All APC yesterday dismissed insinuations in the political circle that the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Sen Rabiu Kwankwaso, poses a threat for the party in the North West ahead of the forthcoming general election.
The party said the difference between APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other political parties is that APC is grounded in the minds of Nigerians.
National vice chairman, North West of the APC, Salihu Lukman, who allayed fears over Kwankwaso’s presidential bid however said because the party is not taking anything for granted, it is working hard to be victorious in the 2023 polls.
“We have made it very clear. The difference between APC in 2015 and Kwankwaso in 2023 is that APC was grounded in the minds of people. You can see for yourself but in the case of other parties, including PDP, what they are hoping they are waiting for us to mismanage ourselves on the basis of which they pack whatever we are not able to achieve.
“Now, the reality is that we are not taking anything for granted. We are not dismissing people. We are going to work hard,” Lukman told journalists in Abuja.
Lukman also calmed frayed nerves over the Muslim-Muslim ticket, saying choice of Sen Ibrahim Shettima as running mate to presidential candidate of the party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was made after the party leadership had weighed all the options.
He noted that Tinubu will protect the interest of all, and that the party is doing everything to convince Nigerians in this regard.
“You see, my position, which I have always buttressed, is that politics is about contest and managing interests. Certainly, the party leadership will have to consider all the factors before arriving. Arrive with respect to the running mate. In the end, we have to convince Nigerians that Muslim-Muslim ticket or however you look at it does not mean discrimination against anybody,” he stated.
On the ongoing fact-finding tour by zonal officials to all the states in the North West, the national vice chairman said it was basically a listening visit to hear from some of the aggrieved members and also get suggestions on how to unite the party ahead the general elections.
He said, “The key issue is basically the issue of reconciliation. There in many of these states, aggrieved party members, who unfortunately have lost primary elections we need to listen to them.
“So the recommendations include setting up committees at state level to go around and meet everybody and try to pacify, and that is being done across most of the states. The second issue has to do with complaints that some of the people who have left the party are still holding on to federal appointments.
“There are other issues which of course, are very critical and as you have seen, we have reflected in some of the statements we have issued, for instance, the issue of insecurity, issue of unity among party members and the question of mobilizing for voter registration.”