On Sunday the 10th of July 2022, the presidential flagbearer of the All Progressive Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu finally unravelled the tight knot of anticipation that had hold of other political parties and indeed all Nigerians. As the INEC deadline for naming a defenitive running mate drew closer, speculations were rife as to his choice. So following his return to the country, he wasted no time in announcing the Distinguished Senator Kashim Shettima (KSM) as his running mate and vice presidential candidate.
To some, it was a welcome development. To others, it was unsettling and distressing. Not because it was totally unexpected, but rather some chose to disregard the obvious. It is therefore not surprising that the announcement has generated such massive amounts of frenzied politicking, analysis and conjecture as has followed in its wake.
A prevalent question has been, why a Muslim-Muslim ticket? And in a bid that smacks of nothing more than an attempt to taint Tinubu’s choice with prejudice, many Nigerians have stated that they would object as much to a Christian-Christian selection.
A worrying observation from the above is that people have not expressed as much concern about the person and ability of Distinguished Senator Kashim Shettima. Rather, the bulk of criticism regarding his selection has centered around his religion. The relevant question therefore is; were Senator Kashim Shettima to be a Christian, would it then be said that Tinubu had made a good and acceptable choice? Should an aspirant’s qualification for office be based principally on his religious practices or the lack of same?
It is important that we look this critically and carefully. Nigeria is at a tipping point in its political and leadership history. The leaders that we elect in the next elections have the capacity to make or break this nation. We must therefore choose only men and women of the highest quality and the best capacity.
So it is important that in this vital selection process, we do not neglect the weightier matters, and focus on less important issues. We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted by concerns about how and where a candidate practices his religious observations, rather than what he can bring to the table. Indeed, the fact that we are so fixated on the former is a bitter pill to swallow. Our country has indeed gone too shallow.
This fixation on Senator Kashim Shettima’s religion seems to indicate that we do not really care whether the senator has the capacity to fill the role of vice president once elected. We are instead more focused on where he goes every Friday afternoon. Should we not rather be asking if he’s a true nationalist, whether he’s smart, vigorous, charismatic, and detribalized?
It seems then that the onus lies upon a few of us, to bring to the fore the distinct qualities that Senator Kashim Shettima brings with him to complement the already outstanding candidature of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The 55 year-old Senator Kashim Shettima is not a stranger to the tasking and often sacrificial requirements of government and political office. He served five times as a Commisioner in his native Borno State. Notable among the five ministries that were under his care at one time or the other are the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Ministry of Education, and Ministry of Agriculture. Senator Shettima also served as a two-time Governor of Borno State and as a Senator of the Federal Republic. It is undeniable that our nation needs leaders with such vast and diverse experiences as these at this time.
It should be clear for every unbiased Nigerian to see that Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu has made an excellent choice aimed solely at the greater good of the nation. He has given us a ‘President in-waiting’, who shares his vision to build a dynamic, prosperous and developed Nigeria.
I therefore urge us to turn our attention to what Senator Kashim Shettima brings to the table of nation development and economic renewal, rather than his personal beliefs. And I want to assure the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), and other relevant Christian Stakeholders that our Leader will reach out to you all, to assuage any doubts whatsoever.
Hon. Humble Eleazer
Chairman, Tinubu Diaspora Strategic Network.
Chairman/Convener, APC Stakeholders Diaspora.