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Shettima as Running Mate: APC Governors Displeased as Tinubu Says Spirit of 1993 Upon Us in 2023

Presidential candidate of the APC Bola Tinubu, on Sunday, announced former governor of Borno State and serving Senator Kashim Shettima as his running mate.

In a move that could undo his aspiration and hurt the future of his party, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress Bola Tinubu, on Sunday, announced former governor of Borno State and serving Senator Kashim Shettima as his running mate, thus rewarding loyalty over competence, electoral value and religious balance.

Meanwhile, some APC governors, who were unhappy with the announcement of Kashi Shettima by Bola Tinubu as his running mate, have scheduled to meet with President Buhari Tuesday in Daura, to formally register their displeasure befoe taking the next step

Tinubu, who had deliberately stalled the pick of a presidential running mate, on account of the need for more time to further consult, has by this decision, called the bluff of the Christian community, which had been pushing for representation on the APC ticket and boxed his party into an unsavoury position in the political calculation of 2023.

Unfortunately, he has also by this deliberate decision, thrown the party into unintended crisis as some of the APC governors and other members as well as stakeholders of the party, have started to react to the development, with a majority of them describing his move as a miscalculation.
The choice of Shettima has since Sunday come under serious attack immediately it was announced. This is because, aside being governor for eight years, a period that shows no outstanding development strides, nothing seems to have qualified Shettima more than the others that were bypassed for him, especially, the governors from the North West.
Therefore, if it was about competence and capacity for the job, there was no way Shettima could have defeated other preferable choices from areas with better electoral value.
To put in context,l his electoral value, as at the 2019 elections, the voting strength of North West alone was over 20 million, representing 24% of the national spread, while the North East boasted a little over 11 million votes, which represented 13.44%.

Talking about religious balance, which has also become an even more sensitive issue, given the rise in terrorism and other forms of insecurity, believed to have assumed a religious slant, the choice of Shettima has been considered even more insensitive to the current realities in the country as much as the existential fault lines.
But, Tinubu, who was in Daura, Katsina State, on Sunday, to spend time with President Buhari, during the Eid-el-Kabir celebration, also seized the opportunity of the visit to talk about his partner, stating that, the spirit of the 1993 presidential election, which presented the nation with a rare Muslim-Muslim combination, had come upon the nation in the 2023 polls.

Inside sources claimed that, Tinubu, had long submitted a list of possible running mates to the president for some time, which Buhari refused to act on.

Tinubu, then, seized the initiative since deadline is Friday, July 15, and formally announced Shettima before the date.
Expectedly, the announcement has begun to create a row in the party, as some of the governors, who worked tirelessly to ensure Tinubu clinched the ticket, considered the manner he broke the news ‘arrogant’ and against the understanding he had with them.

To this end, the governors, a majority of them from the North West, have scheduled to visit the president in Daura, on Tuesday to formally register their displeasure, before taking further steps.
This appears to be the start of a new crisis for Tinubu as some members of the party have started to react to the development. While Senator Ishaku Abbo from Adamawa State, has allegedly resigned from all Tinubu’s campaign groups, another member of the party and legal practitioner, Bwala Daniel, has resigned from the party, because Tinubu’s choice was insensitive to the unity of the country.

This, nonetheless, other party stakeholders, including the governors, were said to have got into another battle of sorts with Tinubu over his suggestion that he would not mind making a former national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, the director-general of his presidential campaign, as they all objected to the idea.
In a related development, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2023 general election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has cautioned against exclusionist politics in the coming dispensation, saying he considered politics as a corrective mechanism.

At the same time, the Presiding Bishop, Christian Global Network, (CGN), Taiwo Akinola, has stated that the same-faith ticket embraced by the APC and its candidate, Tinubu, would further entrench national division, because the church was deeply concerned about the potential consequences of such an arrangement, “thus, we hereby speak up against it before it becomes too late.”


Governors Angry over Decision, Meet Buhari Today in Daura

Aside the governors, Senator Abbo, from Adamawa, who was on some of the Tinubu support groups and committees, has sent a scathing message to the group, in which he expressed his disappointment in Tinubu, for going against popular counsel to choose a Muslim-Muslim ticket.

Abbo, who promised to formally send in his letters today, said if as an ordinary citizen, Tunubu has refused to listen to counsel, then, he would be worse as president and subsequently resigned his membership of all the committees.

Similarly, a lawyer and member of the party, Daniel, who tweeted via his verified account @BwalaDaniel, immediately after the unveiling of Shettima, posted: “Tonight, I officially resigned my membership of @OfficialAPCng on principles and conviction that I hold so dear. At this time of our national existence, our efforts and energy should gravitate towards uniting our people

“Asiwaju has announced Kashim Shettima as his running mate. Kwankwaso is planning to announce a Pentecostal bishop as his running mate. Interesting times lie ahead.”

Tinubu while stressing that the APC would win the 2023 election, he said he selected Shettima,”because he is competent, capable, reliable and able.”
When asked if APC was in the right condition to win the election, the standard standard bearer said, “We are gonna win. Insha Allah. We’re gonna win.”

Tinubu also issued a detailed statement on his new partner and why he settled for him.


Tinubu: Why I Chose Shettima

“Fellow Nigerians, we enter a moment of renewed hope. We hold the chance to move the nation and our collective cause forward as never before. Let us seize this moment so that history may write kindly of us. It is time to focus with utmost devotion and love of country to do all we can do to advance the ideals of democratic and progressive good governance in the land.

“We must end poverty and bring greater prosperity and more lasting peace. Let us be wise of thought yet courageous in action, as we embark on a collective enterprise that brings jobs, education, food, medicine, hope and belief in a better life to those who need them.

“I stand ready to begin this journey with you, hopefully, to lead the nation on this needed path as your next President by the grace of God. I believe this is a pivotal moment at which the dynamics of history and destiny call us forth to reshape our beloved nation. This is our moment.

“We all must answer the nation’s call. For some, this requires of us that we step forward, assuming new roles and responsibilities. For others, it may mean something else. For all of us, it requires that we dedicate ourselves to the collective national task as never before.

“To re-envision and reshape the nation, I must compose the best team possible, a team put together with but one overriding purpose: to forever establish just, capable, and compassionate governance for the people of Nigeria without regard to religion, region, or ethnic origin.

“In full compliance with existing law and regulation, I submitted all necessary documents regarding my nomination as the APC presidential candidate to INEC. But, as was expected, the choice of my Vice Presidential running mate remained an open and burning question. This gave rise to much speculation and debate.
“Recent events (the voluntary withdrawal of my dear friend and brother Ibrahim Masari)mean that I am called upon, today, to put an end to the speculation. I have never been an indecisive man and have no present intention to become one.

“What I am, however, is a democrat. And a democrat must listen to, and consult with, the people and his advisors so that he may reform and govern wisely and on their behalf. This I have done. My political career was not built on blind indifference to the views of others.

“I appreciate the perspectives of 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.

“Having now listened to the sage, careful advice of a broad section of the party and of the nation, there are a few points I feel I must make about the exceptional and extraordinary person with whom I will share the APC ticket and the principles of open and good governance that informed this choice.

“I realize the momentous times we have entered. I know what lies in the balance. I also know that our political choices and activities send both intended and unintended signals to portions of the Nigerian electorate.
“All my life, my decisions regarding the team around and supporting me have always been guided by the principles of competence, innovation, compassion, integrity, fairness, and adherence to excellence.

“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. Other 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.

“If I am to be that type of President, I must begin by being that type of candidate. Let me make the bold and innovative decision not to win political points but to move the nation and our party’s campaign closer to the greatness that we were meant to achieve. Here is where politics ends, and true leadership must begin.
“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.

“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 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.”

But the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has said it was left for the Nigerian electorate to decide on the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket.

In it’s reaction to the announcement by Tinubu that he had settled for a Muslim running mate, the Media Assistant to the CSN president, Adebayo Ayodeji, said: “It is clear that the situation in the country now is not conducive for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.

“It is up to Nigerians to accept or reject. Today’s Nigeria is not the same when Nigerians voted Abiola-Kingibe ticket, which was eventually annulled. Our prayers are with Nigeria and Nigerians.”

Yet, in his reaction, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN, who said, “HE Sen. Kashim Shettima is the perfect choice as VP”, described him thus: “Quintessential banker and economist, suave gentleman and politician, intellectually fertile, economically sound, intergenerationally mobile (he’s young, yet experienced), fiercely loyal, phenomenally complimentary to @officialABAT.”

How Tinubu Fought for Shettima
Settling for Shettima seemed as difficult as Tinubu’s emergence as the APC presidential candidate, but sources in the party claimed that, Tinubu knew all along that a Muslim-Muslim was his best bet, but the religious politics introduced to it as well as the position of the governors, was what delayed the announcement as he sought more time to convince people to buy into Muslim-Muslim idea, before picking the lucky candidate.

While the governors were not very keen about the role of religion in the pairing, they, at many of their meetings with Tinubu, objected to the idea of running with a former governor since Tinubu himself is a former governor.
To that extent, the governors said while Tinubu as the candidate represents the former governors on the ticket, he should pair with a sitting member of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, for some sort of balancing, which they reckoned would give them a sense of belonging in the Tinubu administration, if he won.

Thus, they suggested to him, either the Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Zulum, a Muslim, or his Plateau State counterpart, Simon Lalong, a Christian. But they both represent the class of the sitting governors as NGF members.

Yet, they saw problem with the choice of Zulum, since his benefactor and predecessor, Shettima, is also in consideration for the job and might set them against each other. Besides, some had also argued that cancelling out Zulum would not be as difficult since he had personally come out to opt out of the consideration for running mate to Tinubu.

In a statement widely circulated, Zulum, had thanked those touting his name as possible running mate to the APC candidate, saying if there was anything he wanted, it was to return to Borno to finish off the development he had started and this position, he was said to have personally relayed to Tinubu, when he visited Borno to poach delegates ahead of the convention,
When it was clear to the governors that Tinubu was not comfortable with the two suggestions (Zulum and Lalong), sources said, they further suggested to him another sitting governor, albeit from North West, he quickly retorted that he could never pair with the particular governor, who many people, including his colleagues considered controversial.

According to the source, Tinubu told them that he could not afford to have the very governor in question in a position he could not fire or reprimand him, whenever he misbehaves, hence, he did not think it was smart to pair with him on the presidential ticket, knowing he would be protected by immunity.

But, with the deadline staring them in the face, Tinubu, did not relent on his push for Shettima as he continued to call the governors and other stakeholders, seeking their consent on the choice of the former Borno State governor, whom many believed had since positioned himself for the job.

Even more instructive is the fact that, while many of the governors wanted one of them to be on the ticket, they were willing to defer to Tinubu on his choice for running mate, since he’s the candidate.

However, after securing the tacit consent of the governors and other stakeholders, who were also of the view that the candidate should be allowed to choose whoever he could work with, Tinubu then went for Shettima, whom he had always wanted and also resolved to brief Buhari on his choice partner, before a formal announcement is made ahead of the deadline this Friday.

Meanwhile, another hurdle more difficult to cross for Tinubu is the thinking he could make Oshiomhole, an intending senator, his campaign DG, an idea, which has been roundly rejected by almost everyone he has broached it with.

Tinubu, while meeting with some of the stakeholders, the governors inclusive, had mooted the idea of appointing Oshiomhole to lead his campaign. But the people he ran the idea by immediately protested, saying Oshiomhole would kill his presidential dream.
But the presidential candidate had given as his reason for wanting an Oshiomhole to lead his campaign, the “need for a mad man” that could contain the opposition, intimidate them and lead the party to a resounding victory in 2023.

But they immediately told him that, while they agreed that Oshiomhole had the stamina, he was too combative and disruptive to undertake such an assignment, adding also that as a southerner presidential candidate, picking a southerner as DG, especially, after a Muslim-Muslim ticket, might have begun to awkwardly tilt the balance and present a wrong impression overall – to the voting populace.
Instead, they suggested a Christian northerner, in which case could be one of them – talking about Lalong of Plateau – or any other prominent Christian northerner, who is not seeking an elective office, so he could concentrate on the campaign 100 per cent.
Therefore, while the issue of running mate might have been finally laid to rest with Shettima fitting Tinubu’s bill, the choice of who becomes the DG has yet to be addressed as the party gears up for campaign proper.

‘Same-Faith Ticket Will Further Entrench National Division’
Presiding Bishop, Christian Global Network, (CGN), Taiwo Akinola, has warned that, the same-faith ticket would further entrench national division, noting that the church is deeply concerned about the potential consequences of such an arrangement, “thus, we hereby speak up against it before it becomes too late.”

Akinola, who disclosed this Sunday in Ota, Ogun State, during the new wine/fresh fire conference organised by Christ Global Network (CGN) in Rhema Christian Church and Towers, said political calculations sometimes necessitate veryHe, therefore, urged all major political parties, APC, PDP, and LP parties, and their candidates that same-faith candidature was not a route to take at all especially, in a country where religion is one of the major dividing lines, alongside ethnicity and region.

He also noted that it should be well taken that a Muslim-Muslim ticket would unwittingly fuel a further cry against the real or preconceived allegations of an Islamisation agenda, and furthermore worsen the prevalent political and religious crisis.
He remarked that it was commonsensical and a patriotic appreciation of Nigeria’s religious diversity, therefore, to totally avoid it.

Akinola remarked that the insecurity challenges in the country were tainted with religious colouration, and as such, urged all major political parties to strike a balance along religious lines for peaceful co-existence.
He expressed displeasure that the political structure in the country was designed in such a manner that politicians only focus on strategies for winning elections, not minding if they lose the country in the end.
“I must say that we are very much relieved and highly enthused to note that quite a number of fair-minded Muslims and other patriotic Nigerians, have equally spoken out plainly to condemn any Muslim-Muslim ticket contemplation, knowing that such could not be in the best interest of our dear country Nigeria. And, it is a wise thing to do for all of us to commend and to emulate this gesture.

“We can say it without fear of contradictions that some of those pushing this inconsiderate agenda are doing so for their selfish ends only, not because they wish their candidates or even the nation well. To my mind, no patriotic Nigerian will vote for an arrangement that could spell doom for the country. Moreover, it is even a crass assumption to think that any normal Christian will even contemplate to vote for an Islamic mono-candidature in today’s Nigeria.

“With all these, our candid advice is that all political parties should jettison all Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian permutations. It is insensitive, immoral, unjust, grossly disrespectful to the faith of others, conspicuously suspicious, and tendentious to violence, and we pray it fails.”

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