Against calls to reconsider his stance on the contentious Muslim-Muslim ticket by dropping Senator Kashim Shettima as Vice-President candidate, All Progressives Congress Presidential Candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has submitted his form to the Independent National Electoral Commission.
According to PUNCH, a source within Tinubu’s camp revealed hours to the deadline of INEC that the APC standard-bearer had shunned all entreaties to drop Shettima.
Tinubu, a southern Muslim, enraged the Christian Association of Nigeria, as well as some party members and political stakeholders, when he named Shettima, a northern Muslim, as his running mate.
The announcement provoked widespread criticisms, particularly from the Christian community with its feeling of marginalisation and age-long suspicion of an alleged plan to Islamise Nigeria.
Following the outrage that greeted his decision, Tinubu’s men and campaign teams deployed diplomacy and political conversations in the media to assuage frayed nerves.
The desperate move to downplay talks surrounding ‘Islamisation of Nigeria’ fuelled the belief that Tinubu and the leadership of the APC might consider dropping Shettima for a northern Christian before INEC deadline.
However, the possibility that Tinubu might bow to pressure to change his running mate was erased on Friday when he went on to submit Shettima’s name to INEC.
The spokesman for Bola Tinubu Campaign Organisation, Bayo Onanuga, told Saturday PUNCH that it would have been unwise for his principal to drop Shettima because certain people were uncomfortable with the choice.
“That is not possible. We have seen this move before; all these campaigns to pit us against fellow Nigerians. It happened in 1993 and the result was clear. There was pressure from several quarters for (MKO) Abiola to drop (Babagana) Kingibe because of his Muslim background,” Onanuga said.
The campaign spokesman urged Nigerians to focus on competence instead of flying the kite of ethno-religious sentiments.
“What we should be looking at is not religion but competence of the candidate to deliver and take the country to a greater height. They will soon realise that. As I said earlier, there is no likelihood of our presidential candidate dropping Shettima. He has selected him and Shettima will remain. He is a cool candidate. Either of them can be a President,” Onanuga insisted.