Opposition over the emergence of Kashim Shettima, as the running mate of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu took a new turn on Wednesday as a socio-cultural organisation, Middle Belt Congress, tells the former governor of Borno State to step down from his role as the vice-presidential candidate of the party.
The organisation noted that the move would potentially save the party from impending electoral misfortune in 2023.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday in Abuja, convener of the group, Bilal Abdullahi, said the party’s national acceptance had dwindled following Shettima’s nomination, adding that by picking a Muslim to run with Tinubu, the APC displayed a religious insensitivity to the plurality of the nation.
“The Muslim-Muslim Ticket of the APC indeed comes with its attendant political baggage. Suppose the APC as a party is desirous of making any meaningful impact in the 2023 presidential elections. In that case, it behoves the party to retrace its steps in the composition of its presidential Ticket.”
Describing Shettima as a friend of the Christian community in Nigeria, Abdullahi said it was disappointing that the former governor went ahead to be a part of a Muslim-Muslim ticket in the face of religious and ethnic tension.
“We are constrained to believe that self-confession of Shettima towards the Christian community might be a ruse as his actions of late does not indicate that of a religiously tolerant individual,” Bilal said.
“It remains a statement that since the nomination of Shettima, the APC has evolved into a religious organisation with various stakeholders in abhorrence for the choice of a Northern Muslim at the detriment of credible and capable Northern Christians.
“It remains morally unjustifiable for Shettima to hold onto the vice presidential slot of the APC because such action has heated the polity in ways too numerous to mention. The incomprehensible fact remains that the leadership of the APC is aware of the threats posed to its electoral success with the Muslim-Muslim Ticket, yet, it has remained adamant about the uproar its choice of Muslim-Muslim ticket has elicited in the polity”.
The group, therefore, advised Shetimma to “act in honour by resigning his nomination as the vice presidential candidate of the APC in the interest of peace and tranquility and to salvage whatever is left of the APC in the buildup to the 2023 presidential elections.”
It added that as a matter of urgency, Shettima should recuse himself from the APC presidential team and begin the process of dispelling the insinuations about the party as an Islamic party, which the group said was brought about by his nomination and subsequent acceptance.
“Shettima must, in good conscience, admit that his nomination had indeed brought about ethnic and religious tension in the country, which remains unacceptable in this critical period of our existence where there are concerted efforts at unifying the country along ethnic and religious lines,” the statement added.
“The fact that a Muslim-Muslim ticket cannot unite the country is enough for Shettima to reconsider his vice presidential candidature. And as a former governor who witnessed one of the bloodiest conflicts in Nigeria, he should know better about the cost of conflict in society.
“The Middle Belt Congress strongly advises the former governor to look at the presidential Ticket of other political parties to understand that he stands to go in history as that individual whose blind pursuit of power undermined the Christian community in Nigeria.
“It remains inexcusable, and the Middle Belt Congress is tempted to believe that Shettima might have forced himself on the APC Presidential candidate without recourse to the far-reaching implication such a move would have on the polity”.
The group, however, said it is not late for the former governor to redeem himself in the interest of his party and the country at large, noting that he can’t stand in the way of millions of Christians.
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