Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate for the All Progressives Congress (APC), has said why he chose Senator Kashim Shettima, the former governor of Borno, as his running mate.
He said that the choice was made for strategic reasons, not religious beliefs. He said it wasn’t a plan to shut down Nigeria’s Christian community.
He said that if he didn’t treat his wife, a pastor, and his children, who are Christians, badly because of their religion, he would never mistreat anyone because of their faith. He said that claims to that effect were hurtful.
He spoke on Wednesday in Abuja at a meeting with leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
He says, “This brings me to the question on the minds of many here. Why Senator Kashim Shettima? Why a same-faith ticket? Well, I did not choose Senator Shettima so that we could form a same-faith ticket. The ticket was constructed as the same progressive and people-based ideology ticket.
“I offer a confession. I selected Senator Shettima thinking more about who would best help me govern. Picking a Christian running mate would have been politically easier. But the easy way is rarely the right one. The selection of a running mate is at once a very momentous yet very intimate decision.
“Resting such a key decision on religious affiliation as the primary weight did not sit well with me. I am not saying there were not good and adequate potential running mates of the Christian faith.
“What I am saying is that the times we inhabit do not lend themselves to the good or adequate. We have urgent problems that lend themselves not to a Christian or Muslim solution. We need the best solution.
“Every time I thought about it, and I did think a lot, I came to the same conclusion: Kashim Shettima His faith was immaterial. He is a brilliant man with superior intellectual capacity. He is studious and detailed oriented. Enjoying excellent organization skills, Shettima fully understands the vital difference between governance and politics.”
He also said, “I know people have reacted harshly to my selection. They have done so without knowing the man or giving him or me a fair chance.
“The rumor that this is some plot to suppress the Christian community is untrue and unfortunate.
“I can no more suppress the Christians of this nation than I can suppress the Christians in my own household, my very family.
“You all know my wife is Christian and a pastor. All three of my kids are Christians. I can’t reject them and their choice of religion any more than I can reject myself.
“As a husband and father to Christian wife and children, hearing such allegations is hurtful.”
He said this about his running mate’s character: “This exceptionally gifted human being has the humility of spirit, the courage of his convictions, and a strongly progressive worldview in harmony with my own perspectives on government and its relationship to the governed.
“I trust the caliber of the man. I know his great lengths to fight Boko Haram in his state. He did his best to protect the Christian community and rebuild damaged churches.
“This man understands the value of our national diversity in all of its ramifications, including religious. He possesses the courage to stand up to those who would wreck that diversity and freedom.”