All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Asiwaju Bola Tinubu yesterday justified the choice of Senator Kashim Shettima as his running mate in next year’s election.
He also explained why the ruling party should retain power.
Defending Shettima’s choice, Tinubu said he made a hard, but the best decision.
He said: “ This chapter in our nation’s history demands a bold, yet pragmatic approach. In selecting Senator Shettima, I have committed myself to this path. I have made the hard choice because I believe it is the best choice.”
Tinubu also said the APC and Nigeria have a unique opportunity to rekindle hope for a better country.
He said: “Every election brings with it the promise of renewed hope. This one shall be no different.
“For our party and our nation, we hold the chance to move the nation and our collective cause forward as never before.
“To do this, we must be wise of thought and courageous of action. We must win this election so that we can bring jobs, education, food, medicine, hope and belief in a better life to the people of this country.”
Tinubu unveiled Shettima, former governor of Borno State, at a colourful ceremony held at the Yar’Adua Conference Centre, Abuja.
APC leaders, led by National Chairman Abdullahi Adamu, were in one accord at the ceremony.
The vice presidential candidate described the Tinubu/Shettima ticket as one of hope, reminiscent of the Third Republic Abiola/Kingibe ticket.
Shettima, who was accompanied by his wife, Nana, said he was honoured by the consensus of eminent party stakeholders, who had reposed trust in the ticket.
Lauding the decision to pair Shettima with the standard bearer, Adamu said the ruling party will be victorious at the poll.
The event was witnessed by members of the National Executive Committee (NEC), members of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF), House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, who was represented by House Leader Ado Doguwa, members of the National Assembly, former governors and ministers and governorship and parliamentary aspirants.
At the ceremony were PGF Chairman and Kebbi State Governor Atiku Abubakar Bagudu, Chairman Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi and Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Other governors present were Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Babagana Zulum (Borno), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara), Aminu Masari (Kastina), Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Prince Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) and Kogi State Deputy Governor Edward Onoja.
Others are Senator Kabiru Gaya, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, former National Organising Secretary, Sen. Osita Izunaso, Sen. Musilu Obanikoro, Sen. Solomon Adeola, former National Chairman Comrade Adams Oshiomole, former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Senator Godswill Akpabio, former Interior Minister Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazzau; Director-General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechuhwu; Alhaji Fouad Oki, former Nasarawa State Governor Tanko Al’Makura; former National Vice Chairman (Southsouth) Hillary Etta, former presidential aide Sen. Enang Eta and Director-General, Nigeria Diaspora Commission Abike Dabiri
Others are Niger State governorship candidate, Mohammed Bago, Chairman, House Committee on Finance James Faleke and former national chairmanship aspirant, Sunny Moniedafe.
Remarkably, many Christian leaders also witnessed the ceremony, contrary to the insinuation that the clerics loathe a Muslim/Muslim ticket.
Tinubu believes the 2023 election is a “must win” in a bid to set a new stage for tackling the challenges confronting the country.
He emphasised that the preparation for the poll has brought a promise of renewed hope.
The standard bearer, who acknowledged the popular support for the ticket, said there is a determination to change the country for the better.
Tinubu, who thanked party members and supporters for their backing since his nomination, reflected on the reactions that have trailed Shettima’s choice.
He said: “I stand ready to make this journey and, today, I am delighted to stand shoulder to shoulder with my good friend, brother and running mate, His Excellency, Senator Kashim Shettima.
“Much has been said and written about my decision to select Senator Shettima to partner me on this journey.
“As a committed democrat and progressive, I have read and listened to all that has been written and said.
“It has been an emotional and moving period. I understand the strength of feeling that has been displayed by some within our party and I cherish and respect the views of all.
“Yet, I remain steadfast in my belief in the selection of Senator Shettima. I am unwavering in my belief that he is the very best person to run for the office and, hopefully, govern by my side.
“I believe in the project this party embarked on at the moment of its foundation. I believe our diversity is our strength and I believe that we must be victorious to achieve the greatness of which this country is capable.
“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.
“In politics, these principles are sacrosanct. Without them, there can be neither victory nor good governance.”
Justifying his choice, Tinubu said his decision required a bold, but pragmatic approach.
He said: “In selecting Senator Shettima, I have committed myself to this path. I have made the hard choice because I believe it is the best choice.
“This is where politics must end and leadership must begin. True Leadership is not grounded in religion, populism or sentiment. To forge ahead as a nation toward development and prosperity, we must break free of old binds.
Read Also: ‘Tinubu picked Shettima for public good’
“Senator Kashim Shettima’s career in politics and beyond shows that he is eminently qualified, not only to deliver that all-important electoral victory but, also, to step into the shoes of the Vice President. As a man with talent, maturity, the strength of character and patriotism, he has my implicit confidence and faith.”
Presenting the vice presidential candidate, Adamu said the presidential ticket has sent a strong signal that APC will coast home to victory in 2023.
He, however, urged party members to purge themselves of any bitterness arising from the outcome of party primaries and join hands with candidates to achieve victory.
Adamu said: “We must not be unmindful of the hurdles ahead. It is time to purge ourselves of the bitterness arising from our losses in the party primaries.
“It is time to submit ourselves to the will of God and the party and do nothing to sabotage its well-laid plans for victory.
“The other political parties want what we want, and that is, to win and form the next government.
“If by any act of omission or commission we give in to bitterness and pettiness or fail to see the larger picture or take any of the political parties for granted, we would constitute an obstacle to the victory of our party. As the faithful would like to say, that will not be our portion.
“Our winning strategy must be anchored on a unity of purpose. I urge us to begin our march now towards the sunrise.”
The national chairman said the Tinubu/Shettima ticket has re-enacted the 1993 episode when the defunct Social Democratic Party fielded the Abiola/Kingibe ticket.
He added: “The 1993 presidential ticket and the current one bridged one of our fault lines in the management of our diversities.
“Nigerians overwhelmingly voted for that ticket because they trusted Abiola, a man who opened his arms to every tribe and religion in the country, to run an inclusive government in which no man or woman would be denied his or rights as a Nigerian citizen by the profession of his faith.
“Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a man who has also thrown his arms around every tribe in the country.
“He has offered his shoulders to those in pain to lean on; he has used his wealth to bring succour to the needy. He can be trusted to run an inclusive government in which character, competence and vision matter to his administration.
“Our party has produced a candidate who is accepted by all zones in our country. He enjoys the trust of every stratum of our national socio-economic structure.
“We are confident that Nigerians will entrust him with the leadership of our country in 2023. We offer our gratitude to Nigerians for the continued trust they repose in the APC.”
Shettima promised to work with commitment and mobilise the youths for a crucial alliance devoid of discrimination.
He said: “If this were an unpopular option, as the cast of partisan provocateurs has attempted to paint, there wouldn’t have been the tonnes of goodwill messages, especially from distinguished Christians, from all over the country.
“This ticket is a Nigerian project, not a sectional agenda that the frightened camps have been struggling to sensationalise.
“My emergence as the running mate of the inimitable Jagaban Borgu is based on the party’s very forthright assessment of the threats ahead.
“I’m most honoured by the consensus of the distinguished stakeholders of our party to trust me with representing the nation’s interests under the leadership of the very sage, who the youths all over our country, fondly refer to as ‘City Boy’ in honour of his cosmopolitan profile.”
Bagudu: Shettima is Nigeria’s candidate
Bagudu said Shettima was one of Nigeria’s finest, adding that hope has resonated since Tinubu was announced as the APC presidential candidate.
“He is undoubtedly Nigeria’s candidate,” he added.
No better partner, says Fayemi
Fayemi said Tinubu could not have made a better choice than Shetimma.
He said: “I have always admired him. A vice president should be the number one presidential adviser, the last person with the President when a decision is to be taken.
“Asiwaju will find no better partner than Shettima. Even in the toughest of times, we knew the courage of conviction that he demonstrated as governor of Borno State.
“So, Aswaju will find no better partner as a talent hunter, a bridge builder and a voracious reader. He is a passionate reader and he applies himself to the book.
“Our presidential flag bearer is someone I know very well; he doesn’t like yes men around him. Shettima isn’t going to be a yes man. But, he also submits himself to superior logic. That’s the leader we can trust.
“So, I have absolutely no doubt that he will represent the interest of governors very well. He is a former governor just like Asiwaju.
“We in the Nigeria Governors Forum would have loved this ticket to be a former and current governor. But be that as it may, we will take both of them as current governors.”
Christian clerics endorse choice
A coalition of 30 church leaders showed up at the event.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Tuesday, in a statement, rejected any political party that settled for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
But one of the clerics, Bishop Oguba, said he was not aware of CAN’s position.
“If CAN has taken a decision, I am not aware of it and the body has not communicated to me in writing over the decision to oppose the Muslim-Muslim joint presidential ticket.
“I am surprised you are asking me about the decision of CAN. My ministry is duly registered with Corporate Affairs Commission. I am not just running a ministry.
“The truth of the matter about Muslim-Muslim ticket is an issue I have tried to call the attention of the clergy to differentiate whether we are politicians or servants of God. As far as I am concerned, the body of Christ is not a political party.
“So, if APC decided to adopt a Muslim-Muslim ticket, I have no business with that.
“What concerns me is the economy and I will continue to advise the clergy not to use their selfish interest to bring down the economy because the economy is greater than all religions.
“The clergy should be concerned about the security of the country, not same-faith ticket by any political party. It is purely the decision of the political parties.”