Loyalists of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, have said the party’s vice-presidential candidate, Kashim Shettima, will not be dropped in spite of criticism over his appointment, Punch reports.
Various groups campaigning for the APC’s presidential candidate, in separate interviews, faulted those, who berated the APC and its standard-bearer over the Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Those who commented on the controversy over the ticket included the spokesman for the Tinubu Campaign Organisation, Bayo Onanuga; a former Minister of Communication and Director-General, Asiwaju Tinubu Support Group, Adebayo Shittu; Director of Publicity, Tinubu Support Organisation, Ekiti State, Abiodun Alonge, and the National Chairman of the Southwest Agenda for Tinubu 2023, Senator Dayo Adeyeye.
They insisted that there was no going back on the choice of Shettima as Tinubu’s running mate.
After a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, in Daura, Katsina State on Sunday, Tinubu announced Shettima, a Muslim from Borno State, as his running mate.
The APC has come under heavy criticism from groups and individuals such as the Christian Association of Nigeria, the Catholic Secretariat and a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and an ally of Tinubu, Babachir Lawal, as well as the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, since Sunday when its candidate unveiled Shettima as his running mate.
Lawal in a statement on Tuesday said Tinubu was misled by sycophants, noting that the Muslim-Muslim ticket is satanic. He also described Shettima as “a Greek gift.”
On its part, CAN stated that the situation in the country was not suitable for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Others who had spoken against the ticket included the Christian Association of Nigeria, Catholic Secretariat, Senior Apostolic Leader of the Realm of Glory International Churches, Pastor Sam Aiyedogbon; former presidential aspirant and a chieftain of the APC, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, among others.
A number of party chieftains, including a former governorship candidate of the APC in Rivers State, Tonye Cole, also resigned from the party in protest against the Muslim-Muslim ticket.
On Tuesday, a hitherto unknown group, the Northern APC Christians, in a statement in Abuja asked Tinubu to reverse Shettima’s appointment before Friday’s deadline the Independent National Electoral Commission gave parties to replace running mates.
But Onanuga disclosed that the presidential candidate would not replace Shettima.
Asked if Tinubu was contemplating changing Shettima before the deadline of INEC on Friday, he said, “That is not possible. There is nothing like that going on within Tinubu’s camp. We have seen this move before; all these campaigns to pitch us against fellow Nigerians.
“It happened in 1993 and the result was clear. There was pressure from several quarters for (MKO) Abiola to drop (Babagana) Kingibe because of his Muslim background. I pray people will come back to their senses to discover that what they should be looking at is not religion but the competence of the candidate to deliver and take the country to a greater height. They will soon realise that.”
“As I said earlier, there is no likelihood of our presidential candidate dropping Shettima. He has selected him and Shettima will remain. He is a cool candidate. Either of them can be a president,” he contended.
Commenting on the outrage by CAN and the APC Christian leaders in 19 Northern states, the campaign spokesman disclosed that Tinubu would appease them.
He stated, “I can assure you that Tinubu will appeal to Babachir (Lawal) and others. What we are seeing is natural. This is politics where you may not get all you want. But we know people will soon realise that the choice they have is not really a bad one.
“Don’t forget that we are just six months away before the 2023 elections. In politics, even 24 hours is not a long period. Anything can happen that can change the course of things. There are moves by the party to appease all of them to rally round the presidential candidate for the election.”
The APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, assured Christians that they had nothing to fear with the same faith ticket of the party.
According to him, the party’s Muslim-Muslim Presidential ticket was “the work and the will of God.”