If there was any doubt as to whether President Muhammadu Buhari was opposed in any way to the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC), it was erased completely by the eulogies and endorsement he gave when Senator Kashim Shettima was presented to him, even hinting at a possible victory for his party.
He spoke amidst a denunciation by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) of unknown bishops that showed up at Wednesday’s public presentation of Shettima by the ruling party.
The bishops, said to be fake, have been the butt of condemnation and jokes by Christians and other Nigerians on social media. A report and denigrating videos of some of them emerged on social media. A request for an interview was rebuffed by them.
Kaduna State Chairman of CAN and Vice President of CAN in the 19 northern states and Abuja, Joseph John Hayab, berated the ruling party for hiring artisans and passing them off as bishops.
President Muhammadu Buhari struck a chord of humour on Wednesday at the State House while responding to a flowery speech by Senator Kashim Shettima, the running mate and Vice Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, saying, “I will respond to your speech when I am handing over to you and your boss. God willing, you are going to win.”
According to presidential spokesman, Mr. Garba Shehu, President Buhari, who received the VP Candidate shortly after he was unveiled by the leadership of the party and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, said he is very happy with the choice of the former Governor of Borno State as running mate.
“I wish you the best. Your consistency in the party is very respectful. You served your two terms as Governor and finished well. You have kept touch with your base. At every important occasion or event, you are maintaining support for the one who succeeded you. This is commendable,“ he said.
The President expressed strong optimism that the APC ticket will emerge victorious in 2023.
In his remarks, the Vice Presidential Candidate thanked the President for his “empathy, support and positive role,” leading to his emergence as Running Mate to the APC Presidential Candidate.
He praised the President for having “a special place in your heart for Borno and Northeast,” adding, “I can cite 20-30 instances of support you have rendered, for which you will be remembered.”
He mentioned the establishment of the North East Development Commission, NEDC, and the Independent Power Plant for Maiduguri by the NNPC, “after many years of darkness,” saying that “words cannot describe our appreciation of your support. We will remain eternally grateful.”
The former Governor of Borno State requested the President to appreciate his successor, Babagana Zulum, who was in his company, along with the Minister of State, Agriculture, Mustapha Baba Shehuri, for spurning “recurring mention” of him and pressure from his Governor colleagues to bid for the Vice Presidential ticket.
The candidate pledged to remain “loyal and devoted” to the President, promising that his Vice-Presidency will not be for the “troika of Hausa, Fulani and Kanuri,” but for all Nigeria, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or geographical place of origin.
CAN dissociated itself from the unveiling of Kashim Shettima as the vice-presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Spokesman to the President of CAN, Mr Bayo Adedeji, reacting in a short message after images of men said to be “pastors and bishops” went viral, said, “let them name the CAN officials that attended the programme and their offices,” he said.
“If they could use 2017 photos to claim that some bishops visited Senator Shettima and lied that Pastor E. A. Adeboye had endorsed them, they could do anything.
“Our position on Muslim-Muslim ticket is irreversible. Anybody can claim to be anything, but one thing is clear, CAN was not part of the unveiling programme of Shettima.”
The Vice President of CAN (19 Northern States and Abuja), Hayab, said: “The people we saw at the unveiling of Shettima paraded as Bishops are people who did not have enough time to learn how to wear Bishop garments. Take a closer look at their photo and you will see another Nollywood movie.
“CAN wonders why the desperation. First, a story was out claiming to have come from the Chairman of CAN Borno state only to be refuted.
Secondly, there was another lie that BAT (Bola Ahmed Tinubu) and his running mate were on their way to meet CAN President one night. A meeting that was not true and was on a night that the CAN President was in Alabama USA attending the Baptist World Alliance Conference of which he is the Vice President.
“Another desperation story was that they met Papa Adeboye which the RCCG later refuted. If Christians are not important why the desperation?
“BAT is free to hire mechanics and other artisans and sew clerical garments for them. An effort that will only add to their many ropes when the political exercise is over but will not change the need for fairness and justice that CAN is calling for.
“CAN appreciate that we are in a democracy, no need to do funny and dubious things just to prove a point because it will in the end bounce back. BAT team should simply do what is right and stop the drama.”