Reactions have greeted the choice of Sen Kashim Shettima as the running mate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu.
Shettima is a Senator representing Borno Central District in the nation’s Upper Chamber. He was a two-term governor in Borno state.
Reacting to Tinubu’s declaration, however, the Christian Association of Nigeria said it was unfortunate that the APC candidate had failed to take the country’s religious diversity into consideration.
Before now, there had been warnings from CAN, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and Civil Society Organisations against fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket for the 2023 presidential election.
In an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, the Spokesman for the CAN President, Rev. Adebayo Oladeji, said making such a decision in a polarised country was a wrong move.
He stated that if having a pastor as the vice president of the country and Christian clerics and worshipers are being killed, the security of lives and properties of Christians under a Muslim-Muslim could not be guaranteed.
Oladeji, however, warned that Nigerians should be ready to face the consequences of their actions if they endorsed and vote for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
He said, “We knew this was what he was going to do and we have warned against it. It is up to Nigerians to decide on what they want. You are all alive when we warned Buhari not to allow Muslims to dominate the security architecture of the country and he did it.
“I think we can see the way the criminals are operating with impunity. So, if Tinubu says he is opting for a Muslim-Muslim ticket in a polarised country like ours, if Nigerians endorse him and vote for him, whatever happens, Nigerians will face the consequences.
“We are raising our alarm, it is an irony that Buhari they regarded as an extremist when we raised an alarm to warn him against a Muslim-Muslim ticket, he heeded and opted for a Christian as his vice presidential candidate.”
But revered Catholic Bishop, Matthew Kukah, said Tinubu was free to pick whoever he wanted just as a coach is free to select the players on his team.
Kukah, who is the Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, said it was up to Nigerians to decide if they want a Muslim-Muslim President and Vice-President or not.
He said, “This is what you call team selection and everybody will choose depending on what they think will give them a fair chance. So people will take responsibility for the choices they have made. For me, it is not something to lose sleep over.
“If people feel unhappy with the kind of choices that have been made, that is why we are democrats, you can’t force it. We outsiders cannot force a choice of any candidate. It is now left for you to look at the choices that have been made. And there is no guarantee that all Christians will vote for Christians and all Muslims will vote for Muslims.”
Also speaking , Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, Ignatius Kaigama, said Nigeria was not ripe for a same faith Presidential ticket.
The cleric added, “When you decide that only one religion will produce the major actors, excluding others who will become like strangers, it would not be fair and just. For the sake of religious sensitivity in a place like Nigeria, it is good that we have a balance so that we become like one big family.”
Also, Rev fr. Mike Umoh, Director of Social Communication, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, argued that the Muslim-Muslim ticket was insensitive.
“We have made our stance and made it clear. Muslim/Muslim ticket doesn’t make sense; it is unhealthy and insensitive for now,” Umoh stated.
The President, Arewa Christians and Indigenous Pastors Association, Luke Shehu, maintained that the APC would not get the votes of northern Christians.He said, “If this is true, then believe me APC will not get the desired votes from the Northern Christians, the generality of Christians and they will lose the votes of the Hausa for simply being a Fulani man. This is because evidently, the Hausas have been provoked by the recent incessant attacks and kidnapping by the Fulani marauders.
“These recent developments have brought to their memory their experiences and lost since Danfodio and Ahmadu Bello.”
Reacting, however, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, described the choice of Shettima as perfect.
Keyamo in a tweet said, “Quintessential banker and economist, suave gentleman and politician, intellectually fertile, economically sound, intergenerational mobile (he’s young, yet experienced), fiercely loyal, phenomenally complimentary to Tinubu. Kashim Shettima is the perfect choice as VP”.
Also, Zulum hailed Tinubu for picking Shettima as his running mate.
The governor, in a statement he personally signed, said he was sure that with both Tinubu and Shettima on the ticket, the APC would win next year’s election.
“It has been my greatest wish that Kashim Shettima gets this elevation that he so much deserves as one of Nigeria’s highly patriotic leaders. For me, and I am sure for many leaders and members of the APC, Tinubu’s choice of Shettima is the wisest choice at this point in time.
“Shettima’s choice is very personal to me and together with our leaders and all stakeholders and members of the APC, we shall campaign vigorously, work day and night, to collectively secure overwhelming victory for the APC in 2023,” he said
Zulum added that there is hardly any tribe in any of Nigeria’s 36 states and the FCT that Shettima cannot knowledgeably speak about.
“He knows the social, cultural, religious, economic and political structure of virtually all the 36 States and the FCT,” said the Borno governor.
Professor Jacob Ayantayo of the Department of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “A Muslim-Muslim ticket is not a problem, we are just theorising, and if that is what is going to pay him, so be it. We are not politicians, politicians are in their own world, to them, It is a game of number, not sentiment.”
Also, a professor of African Traditional Religion, Lagos State University, Ojo, Danoye Oguntola-Laguda, said, “A Muslim-Muslim ticket can still go. Nigeria is a secular state; section 10 of our constitution says no religion shall determine the politics of the state and all other interests. There is always going to be the interest of others while picking candidates, while we are saying this, it is just a norm, not a rule. In 1993, people came up with the argument that it won’t work, but it eventually worked. There is nothing wrong with a Muslim –Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket as the case may be.’’
His emergence as Tinubu’s running mate has ignited a debate in the social media especially on Twitter where some quarters believe the APC national leader has shot himself in the leg for choosing another Muslim as his vice, known as a Muslim-Muslim ticket in Nigeria’s politics.
The argument on Twitter flawed Tinubu’s audacity to opt for a Muslim-Muslim ticket, a move his two major challengers in the next year’s presidential election, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) flag bearers, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi respectively avoided, in their bid to win the hearts of Nigerians at the polls.
While some tweeps raised the issue that Chibok girls were kidnapped under Shettima’s watch as a governor in terrorism-laden Borno state in 2014, others concluded that former Lagos governor’s decision as left them with two options of Atiku and Obi in the presidential race.
Below are a few of Nigerians’ reactions on Twitter:
@firstladyship tweeted: “Tinubu picked Shettima, making the APC a Muslim-Muslim ticket. We are not voting for ethnicity or religion. We are voting for MERIT. We are voting against Corruption, ASUU Strikes, Hunger and Poverty, National Grid Collapses, Mad Insecurity, Crazy Inflation, etc. AM I MAKING SENSE?”
According to @nigeriasbest, “It was Shettima alongside Lamido Sanusi who said that the Niger Delta receiving 13% was one of the causes of Boko-Haram… If you elect divisive characters, volenti non fit injuria… “
“This same Shettima was governor when the Chibok girls were kidnapped. This is the governor that despite the warnings of @GEJonathan (former President Goodluck Jonathan) that no exams should take place, he still went ahead with the exams and #Chibokgirls got missing. This is the person @officialABAT (Asiwaju Bola Tinubu) wants as vice,” @thebardogbamola reacted.
@ayemojubar said: “Tinubu’s Muslim-Muslim ticket with Shettima will influence the decisions of at least 5% of voters in the coming election. Nobody plans to make 2023 election religion based, but the fear (of) Islamisation agenda which Buhari started is becoming too real and too scary.”
“You can insult me because I said no to a Muslim-Muslim ticket or not in support of Shettima,” @NabirAbduls said. “I really don’t care about insults. I have a bright future ahead of me and I have Peter Obi who got my interest and that of every Nigerian at heart… “
@biodunalexa tweeted: “Tinubu running a Muslim-Muslim ticket by choosing Shettima is his choice. He believes Muslims alone in the SW & the North can give him his Victory. Nigeria finally belongs to Muslims alone according to APC. Everyone vote your choice. Thank God there is a third candidate in Obi.”
@edwardessien asserted: “With Tinubu/APC choosing Shettima on the Muslim Muslim ticket, the race is now between Peter Obi and Atiku. Peter Obi will be President 2023. Bookmark this!”