I’ll hand over to you and your boss in 2023, Buhari tells Shettima

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PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, at the State House, Abuja, told the Vice-Presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Kashim Shettima, that he was confident he would hand over the leadership of the country to him and his principal, Bola Tinubu, in 2023, God-willing.

Buhari, however, in spite of the growing concern over APC’s preference for a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket, expressed optimism that the party would win the February 2023 presidential election regardless.

The president, who spoke while playing host to Shettima, after he was formally unveiled at the Yar’Adua Centre as Tinubu’s running mate, boasted that the APC would return to power next year.

In the same breath, Tinubu, at Shettima’s unveiling yesterday reiterated that he was committed to his choice of a Muslim-Muslim preference, even as the former Borno State governor explained that his pick was in no way an imposition.

At the same time, the Director, Media and Communication, Tinubu Campaign Organisation (TCO), Mr. Bayo Onanuga, for the umpteenth time, has reacted to the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of the APC, saying it was far from religion and ethnicity considerations, but performance-enhancement based.

However, responding to Shettima’s speech, Buhari, who was absent at Shetiima’s official unveiling as the APC leader, said, “I will respond to your speech, when I am handing over to you and your boss. God willing, you are going to win,” adding that, he is very happy with the choice of the former governor of Borno State as Tinubu’s 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.

Earlier, Shettima thanked the president for his empathy, support and positive role, leading to his emergence as running mate to the APC presidential candidate.

While praising him for having a special place in his heart for Borno and Northeast, he added: “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,” noting that, “words cannot describe our appreciation of your support. We will remain eternally grateful.”

He requested of 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.

Shettima, however, pledged to remain “loyal and devoted” to the President, promising that his vice-presidency would not be for the “troika of Hausa, Fulani and Kanuri,” but for all Nigerians, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or geographical place of origin.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, Tinubu said, every election brings with it, the promise of renewed hope, and that, the 2023 elections would be no different. He, however, insisted that, the APC must win the 2023 elections in order to bring a better life to the people of this country.

Tinubu said: “Every election brings with it the promise of renewed hope. This one shall be no different. For our party and for our nation, we hold the chance to move the nation and our collective cause forward as never before.

“To do this, we must be wise of thought and courageous of action. We must win this election so that we can bring jobs, education, food, medicine, hope and belief in a better life to the people of this country.

“I stand ready to make this journey and, today, I am delighted to stand shoulder to shoulder with my good friend, brother and running mate, His Excellency, Senator Kashim Shettima.”

Tinubu who noted that much has been said and written about his decision to pick Shettima as partner, insisted that he remained committed in the choice of Shettima.

His words: “As a committed democrat and progressive, I have read and listened to all that has been written and said. It has been an emotional and moving period. I understand the strength of feeling that has been displayed by some within our party and I cherish and respect the views of all.

“Yet, I remain steadfast in my belief in the selection of Senator Shettima. I am unwavering in my belief that, he is the very best person to run for office and to, hopefully, govern by my side.

“I believe in the project this party embarked on at the moment of its foundation. I believe our diversity is our strength and I believe that we must be victorious in order to achieve the greatness of which this country is capable.”

Shettima, at his unveiling, said his emergence as the running mate to Tinubu was based on the party’s forthright assessment of the threats ahead, adding that he was honoured by the consensus of the party’s stakeholders to trust him and represent the nation’s interests.

According to him, “There’s no weight I carry very carefully, as much as the burden of trust, and learning from public servants, who never take the expectations of the public, for granted. I’m standing here today, because of the benign testaments of those, who believe in me – those who crawled so that some of us could walk, and those who walked, for others to run.”

Shettima noted that he was not unaware of the difficult political arithmetic that produced this moment, especially, the understanding of the party’s stakeholders and supporters, across religions, regions, and ethnicities, adding that, their resolve to settle for this ticket, was a testament to the faith they have in them.

“This ticket isn’t an imposition; it’s an outcome of democracy at its practical best, and based on the aggregation of the ideas and insights, of our great party’s stakeholders. If this were an unpopular option, as the cast of partisan provocateurs has attempted to paint, there wouldn’t have been the tonnes of goodwill messages, especially, from distinguished Christians, from all over the country. This ticket is a Nigerian project, not a sectional agenda, that the frightened camps have been struggling to sensationalise.

“I’m sincerely proud of the rational citizens, who view this, as nothing but a pragmatic permutation, to defeat our opponents at the polls, and based on acknowledgment and implementation of the candid perspectives of our Christian brothers and sisters in the APC, who, like us, are bound by the passion for us to retain power, in order to deepen the delivery of unifying and transformative governance, to Nigerians.”

Shettima recalled that about 30 years ago, Nigerians came together to market the Muslim-Muslim ticket of MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe, adding that, the Abiola and Kingibe ticket defied the stereotype of Nigerians, as hopelessly sectional, and incapable of prioritising reason over sentiments.

He said; “This reincarnation of the 30-year-old hope that produced the late MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe, came at a time the country is being pushed to the edge of anarchy, by conflict entrepreneurs, in gaudy suits and babanriga.

“But the overwhelming endorsement of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, at the APC presidential primaries, by aspirants from the very groups predicted to reject him; and his subsequent election by delegates from the same groups, is a clear message, that Nigerians are beyond the stereotypes of those desperate to tear the people apart.”

Earlier, the APC National Chairman, Senator Abdulahi Adamu, said Tinubu chose to work along the path of Abiola by choosing a Muslim to be his running mate.

He stated categorically that Tinubu as a person, has also thrown his arms around every tribe in the country and has offered his shoulders for those in pain to lean on, stressing that he could be trusted to run an inclusive government.

“Those of you who are students of our recent political history will note that in choosing Shettima as his running mate, Jagaban chose also to walk along the path that other great son of this country, Aare Onakakanfo, the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola, did. He chose a Kanuri, Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe from the North-East geo-political zone, as his running mate in the 1993 presidential election.

“We are beginning to suspect there must be some synergy between the Yoruba and the Kanuri. Maybe there is a mutual attraction between them that the rest of us do not know. Never mind, we will put the searchlight on them.

“The 1993 presidential ticket and the current one bridged one of our fault lines in the management of our diversities. Nigerians overwhelmingly voted for that ticket, because they trusted Abiola, a man, who opened his arms to every tribe and religion in the country, to run an inclusive government in which no man or woman would be denied his or rights as a Nigerian citizen by the profession of his faith

“Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a man, who has also thrown his arms around every tribe in the country. He has offered his shoulders for those in pain to lean on; he has used his wealth to bring succour to the needy. He can be trusted to run an inclusive government in which character, competence and vision matter to his administration.”

In his submission, Fayemi said no doubt, APC governors would have preferred one of them to be the running mate to Tinubu, but added that Tinubu couldn’t have made a better choice.

Fayemi expressed optimism that Shettima being a former governor would protect the interest of APC governors.

“Asiwaju can’t find no better assistant, no better partner, no better companion than Shettima. Even in the toughest of time, he led with courage, he led from the front, he challenged us to do more…,” he said, stressing that Tinubu has found himself not just a governing partner, a bridge builder, a consensus builder, but a talent sporter in Shettima.

According to him, Shettima would not be a “Yes Man” to Tinubu, adding: “Asiwaju is someone that I know very well, and he does not like ‘yes people’ around him. Kashim Shettima is not going to be a ‘yes man’. Kashim Shettima is going to offer honest, sincere, independent, verified advice that will be to the betterment of our country.”

The APC governors that graced the occasion were, Chairman of APC Governors’ Forum and the Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu; Kano State Governor, Abdulahi Ganduje; Nasarawa State Governor, Abdulahi Sule; Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State; Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi; outgoing Osun State Governor, Gboyega Oyetola; Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zullum; Deputy Governor of Kogi, Edward Onoja; Kastina State Governor, Bello Masari; Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun; and former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.

 

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