The Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday said those criticising him over his choice of Kashim Shettima as his running mate in the 2023 polls had approached him for the position.
He said most of them were close to him, adding that they had indicated interest to become his running mate, an overture he claimed he bluntly turned down.
Tinubu spoke during an interactive session with the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Abuja, led by Archbishop Daniel Ukoh.
The APC standard bearer’s choice of Shettima, a fellow Muslim and former Borno State governor had generated a groundswell of opposition and criticisms from many Nigerians, including the leadership of CAN.
Among the critics of the Muslim-Muslim ticket was Babachir Lawal, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and close ally of Tinubu, who described the decision as “a disastrous error.’’
Also, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, who was opposed to the idea, asked Christians in Nigeria not to waste their votes on the APC candidate in the 2023 election.
A prominent Christian leader and Bishop of the Diocese of Sokoto, Fr. Mathew Kukah, said the ruling party was insensitive to settle for same faith ticket despite squandering power and misallocating opportunities given to them in 2015.
But addressing Christian leaders at the Ecumenical Centre in Abuja, the former Lagos State governor dismissed the claims that he planned to Islamise Nigeria with his choice of Shettima as the Vice-Presidential candidate.
He said, “People have reacted harshly to my selection. They are because they are my friends, they lobbied me and wanted to be my running mate but I bluntly rejected them. The rumour that this is some plot to suppress the Christian community is untrue and unfortunate. I don’t have that kind of agenda. The bucks stop on my table, not on the vice- president’s table unless so delegated. He cannot even forgive convicted inmates if I don’t delegate the power to him. What is the vice- president?
‘’I can no more suppress the Christians of this nation than I can suppress the Christians in my own household, my very family. I dare not contest the presidential position in my house because I will lose, they are all Christians. If I did not Islamise my family, I cannot Islamise Nigeria. It is awful to hear such allegations. We cannot make progress if we continue to follow that path in the country. Religions will not help us. It won’t do any good to us. “