The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, said he chose Kashim Shettima as his running mate 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.”
Mr Tinubu, in a statement he signed Sunday evening, said although he is aware of the religious concerns about his choice of running mate, he does not believe that religion should be the deciding factor in choosing a running mate.
“Some have counselled that I should select a Christian to please the Christian community. Other(s) 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,” he wrote.
Mr Tinubu, like Mr Shettima, is a Muslim, and many Nigerians including the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had cautioned all the political parties not to have presidential tickets in which the candidate and the running mate are of the same religion.
Mr Tinubu, however, argued that “religion, ethnicity and region cannot always and fully determine our path.”
He said his choice of Mr Shettima, does not, however, mean that he is insensitive to the religious concerns of many people.
“May I say this to all of you, especially to those who will be disappointed in my selection based on religious considerations. I will not and cannot ignore the religious concerns and ethnic sensitivities of our people. Taking them into due consideration is an important part of good and able governance,” he said.
He said the kind of government he hopes to run if elected Nigeria’s president would focus on performance and competence and not ethnicity or religion.
“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,” he wrote.