…Clergymen at Shettima’s Presentation not fake – Tinubu’s defense
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has dissociated itself from the unveiling of Kashim Shettima as the vice-presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
National Public Relations Officer of CAN, Mr Bayo Adedeji, made this known in a short message after images of men said to be “pastors and bishops” went viral.
“Let them name the CAN officials that attended the programme and their offices,” he said. “If they could use 2017 photos to claim that some bishops visited Senator Shettima and lied that Pastor E. A. Adeboye had endorsed them, they could do anything.
“Our position on Muslim-Muslim ticket is irreversible. Anybody can claim to be anything, but one thing is clear, CAN was not part of the unveiling programme of Shettima.”
The reaction by the Christian body comes hours after the ruling party officially presented Shettima – a Muslim – as the running mate to its presidential flagbearer, Bola Tinubu, who is also a Muslim.
Shettima, a two-term governor of Borno State, is the lawmaker representing Borno Central senatorial district in the National Assembly.
Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State, first announced the choice of Shettima as his running mate on July 10 when he paid a sallah homage to President Muhammadu Buhari in his hometown of Daura in Katsina State.
He said the former governor was picked because of his competence, capability, and reliability.
But Tinubu’s action has sparked outrage in the country, especially from CAN and various individuals and groups who rejected it.
Amid the concerns raised, the APC flagbearer explained that his action was purely for the good of the nation and its people, and not to disrespect any faith, specifically the two major religions in the country.
He later unveiled Shettima as his running mate at an event held in Abuja where he advised Nigerians to look beyond religion and ethnicity and focus on building a prosperous nation.
“We hold the chance to move the nation and our collective cause forward as never before,” he said on Wednesday. “To do this, we must be wise in our thoughts and courageous in our actions.
“We must win this election so that we can bring jobs, eliminate poverty, educate our children, (and) bring up our grandchildren without thinking of religious division or ethnic differences. We are one. Our passport is one; greenback is one. One nation, one destiny.”
Meanwhile, the presidential flagbearer of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has countered accusations by critics who claimed his campaign team hired thugs to pose as Christian clergy at Wednesday’s unveiling of the party’s vice presidential candidate, Kashim Shettima.
The APC had unveiled former Borno State Governor, Senator Shettima as its vice presidential candidate for the 2023 general elections.
The event, which was held at the Shehu Yar’adua centre in Abuja, had in attendance the party’s presidential candidate and ex-Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, party chieftains and religious leaders.
However, viral pictures and videos of the event accused Tinubu of hiring urchins to dress Christain clerics.
A communique through the Director, Media & Communication of his Campaign Organisation, Bayo Onanuga, described the event as an open affair, which allowed members of the public to attend, including the clergymen and some others now being derided by hirelings of the opposition.
The former governor of Lagos also alluded to the viral pictures and videos of the clergymen and women “as unwarranted distractions” by political opponents.
“We want to say that those clergymen were not fake, not mechanics or yam sellers as the purveyors of hatred have made Nigerians believe in the social media. They are not big names in Christendom yet, but they are gradually building up their missions,” it read.
“They are church leaders who genuinely believe that Nigerians must eschew politics of hatred and religious bigotry and rather embrace politics of peace and nation building.”
Tinubu stressed that his social media gathering and buzz was a calculated ploy by those seeking his downfall to distract many from the success of the unveiling.
“The orchestrated social media sensation over the presence of the men is needless and all calculated to detract from the huge success recorded at the momentous event on Wednesday,” he said.
“We, therefore, deplore the hysterical twisting of the presence of these men and women in cassocks and the false accusation against our candidates, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Senator Shettima.”
“We are well aware that the opposition parties and the sponsors of the social media charade are jittery and threatened by the intimidating political credentials of our candidates. The only way they hope to shift the attention of public scrutiny away from their uninspiring candidates and credentials is to create social media distraction.
He reiterated his commitment to tackling the problems facing the nation and improving the standard of living of every citizen.
“Our campaign is determined on focusing on core governance issues that affect all Nigerians with a view to confronting them and making the desired improvements in the standard of living of our people.
“We believe Nigerians are too wise and discerning to see through these shenanigans. Asiwaju Tinubu and his running mate and our great party are working very hard to provide purposeful leadership and good progressive governance that will improve the quality of life of Nigerians.