Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu has said that he chose Senator Kashim Shettima as running mate because of his character, noting that picking a Christian would have been politically easier.
Tinubu stated this on Wednesday when he met with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Abuja at an interactive session.
He assured the CAN leadership that he would not run his administration on the basis of religion if elected.
The leadership of CAN under new president Daniel Ukoh presented a charter of demands and issues to the APC presidential candidate.
They demanded among others state police or a decentralised policing system, devolution of power to states, equal rights for all religions and their adherents, right to self-determination by all ethnic groups, right to control natural resources by communities that bear them, no to open grazing, and equitable electoral system that guarantees the right to vote and be voted for by all.
“I did not choose Senator Shettima so that we could form a same-faith ticket. The ticket was constructed as a same progressive and people-based ideology ticket,” said Tinubu.
“I offer a confession. I selected Senator Shettima thinking more about who would best help me govern. Picking a Christian running mate would have been politically easier. But the easy way is rarely the right one. The selection of a running mate is at once a very momentous yet very intimate decision.
“Resting such a key decision on religious affiliation as the primary weight did not sit well with me. I am not saying there were not good and adequate potential running mates of the Christian faith.
“What I am saying is that the times we inhabit do not lend themselves to the good or adequate. We have urgent problems that lend themselves not to a Christian or Muslim solution. We need the best solution.
“Every time I thought about it, and I did think a lot; I came to the same conclusion: Kashim Shettima.
“His faith was immaterial. He is a brilliant man with superior intellectual capacity. He is studious and detailed oriented. Enjoying excellent organisation skills, Shettima fully understands the vital difference between governance and politics.
“This exceptionally gifted human being has humility of spirit, courage of his convictions and a strongly progressive worldview in harmony with my own perspectives on government and its relationship to the governed. I trust the calibre of the man. I know the great lengths he went in fighting Boko Haram in his state. He did his best to protect the Christian community and rebuilt damaged churches.
“This man understands the value of our national diversity in all of its ramifications, including religious. He possesses the courage to stand up to those who would wreck that diversity and freedom.”
He added, “I know people have reacted harshly to my selection. They have done so without knowing the man or giving him or me a fair chance.”
Tinubu was accompanied to the session by his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu; Shettima; House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila; Governors Hope Uzodinma (Imo), David Umahi (Ebonyi), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq (Kwara), Deputy Senate Leader Senator Boroffice Ajayi, Senate Chief Whip Orji Kalu, minister of special duties Senator George Akume and many others.