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The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has said his choice of selecting a former governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, as his running mate for the 2023 general election was not based on religion or to please a region in the country.
Tinubu said he picked Shettima as the APC’s vice presidential candidate because he believed the former governor “is the man who can help me bring the best governance to all Nigerians”.
The APC presidential candidate made this known via a statement he personally issued and made available to The Star on Sunday.
He had earlier announced Shettima as his running mate for the 2023 presidential election while speaking to newsmen shortly after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at his private residence in Daura, Katsina State on Sunday.
Tinubu, a two-term former governor of Lagos State, stressed that he will never ignore the religious concerns and ethnic sensitivities of Nigerians, saying “taking them into due consideration is an important part of good and able governance”.
The APC National Leader added that “religion and ethnicity cannot always and fully determine our path”, noting that “to forge ahead as a nation toward development and prosperity, we must break free of old binds”.
He further stated that Shettima’s career in politics and beyond showed that he was eminently qualified to be the APC’s vice-presidential candidate, describing the former governor as “a man with the talent, maturity, strength of character, and patriotism”.
Tinubu said: “This chapter in our country’s history demands a bold yet pragmatic approach, a path already chartered by the progressive ethos of the APC. The foundation for sustainable progress has been laid these past seven years by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The challenges of today are consequential because the lives and livelihoods of millions of Nigerians lie in the balance. Visionary and creative leadership will take us to our goal.
“Our focus, therefore, must be on getting the job done; and that means getting the very best and competent people to do it. In this crucial moment, where so much is at stake, we must prioritize leadership, competence, and the ability to work as a team over other considerations.
“I am mindful of the energetic discourse concerning the possible religion of my running mate. Just and noble people have talked to me about this. Some have counselled that I should select a Christian to please the Christian community. Others have said I should pick a Muslim to appeal to the Muslim community. Clearly, I cannot do both.
“Both sides of the debate have impressive reason and passionate arguments supporting their position. Both arguments are right in their own way. But neither is right in the way that Nigeria needs at the moment.
“As president, I hope to govern this nation toward uncommon progress. This will require innovation. It will require steps never before taken. It will also require decisions that are politically difficult and rare.
“Today, I announce my selection with pride because I have made it not based on religion or to please one community or the other. I made this choice because I believe this is the man who can help me bring the best governance to all Nigerians, period, regardless of their religious affiliation or considerations of ethnicity or region.
“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.
“This is why, today, I announce the selection of Senator Kashim Shettima as my partner and running mate in the mission to advance and reclaim the fortunes of this great country and the hopes of its people.
“Senator Kasim Shettima’s career in politics and beyond shows that he is eminently qualified not only to deliver that all important electoral victory, but, also, step into the shoes of the Vice President. As a man with the talent, maturity, strength of character, and patriotism he has my implicit confidence and faith.
“I am aware that many will continue focus on a particular detail, the question of his faith.
“However, if we truly understand the challenges upon us as a nation, then we must also see the imperative of placing competence in governance above religious sentiment.
“In 1993, Nigerians embrace Chief MKO Abiola and a fellow Muslim running mate, Baba Gana Kingibe in one of our fairest elections ever held. The spirit of 1993 is upon us again in 2023.
“As such, the ticket we present today represents a milestone in our political history. It symbolizes our party’s determination to be a leading light among political parties in Africa.
“The democratic process and the decorum that characterised our presidential primaries and the selection of our vice presidential candidate exemplifies why we are the party of the people and of the betterment of their future.
“With this selection, the All Progressives Congress surely shall continue to be the party that shows the way and carries this nation towards its best future. I implore you all to join with me on this journey to a brighter future,” the APC presidential standard-bearer stated.
The former governor, however, expressed his appreciation to the “leading members of the party, political allies, and key national figures who see Nigeria’s future as I do.
“They gave me their views so that I might add their valuable insights to mine to reach the best decision possible and do so in a manner that strengthens the institutional fabric of our party as well as accelerating the evolution of our political democracy,” Tinubu said.
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