The presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has defended the Muslim Muslim ticket of his party.
He defended the ticket during an interactive session with the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria on Wednesday, November 16 in Abuja at the National Christian Centre.
He also outlined some of his past gestures to the Christian community.
At the meeting,, Tinubu commended the Christian body for the session. He expressed deep for its selfless contribution to the nation adding that “No society or nation can rightly function or achieve greatness without its moral and ethical fibre being properly intact.”
Support for the church
Commenting on how he has supported the Christian community, he said, “As Governor of Lagos, I partnered with the Christians to improve lives and foster education. For instance, I returned mission schools to their owners, most of who are Christians.
“I instituted yearly Christian Denomination Service at the Governor’s residence as we approached the new year. This tradition continues in Lagos.”
He said his government also fostered an atmosphere of religious tolerance and inter-faith collaboration.
“My cabinet was diverse and talented. In the exercise of government, I did not give a thought to whether a team member was Christian or Muslim, Yoruba, Igbo or Arewa. I have never lent myself to baseless prejudice and discrimination. To do so would be a recipe for failure in the governance of a diverse society and I am not a man that is familiar with failing.”
He said after he left Lagos, Lagos has had one Muslim and two Christian governors adding, “I may not be perfect. What human being is? But I am not a petty man secretly wedded to secret biases and prejudices.”
He said he did not choose Senator Shetima as his running mate so that he could form a same-faith ticket. “The ticket was constructed as a same progressive and people-based ideology ticket. I offer a confession. I selected Senator Shettima thinking more about who would best help me govern.”
He said “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. ”
Tinubu said his choice did not imply there was no good and adequate person to fill that role in the Christian community but 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.”
While noting that Kashim Shetima is an exceptionally gifted human being he recalled how he fought Boko Haram in Borno and how he protected the Chrisitan community and rebuilt damaged churches in his state.
He dismissed the insinuation that his choice is to suppress the Christians in Nigeria.
He stated, “You all know my wife is Christian and a pastor. My children are Christians. I can no more disown them and their choice of faith than I can disown myself. As a husband and father to Christian wife and children, hearing such allegations is hurtful. However, that individual discomfort will not deter me from the job at hand.”
Tinubu talked further about his policies and outlined some of the things he would do if elected. If elected, my door will be open to the leadership of CAN. You will be consulted regularly on the affairs of the state.
In his opening remark, the President of CAN, The Most Rev Daniel Okoh said the idea of the forum is to come together to review our understanding of the Nigerian crisis of development and governance and collectively find a lasting solution.
He said CAN had consulted with a cross-section of Nigerians on the country’s problem and has articulated its findings in a document called the Charter for Future Nigeria.
He said the document makes genuine recommendations for resolving Nigeria’s recurrent crises that border on justice and fairness, equality of all ethnic and religious groups, and a wide range of other issues
Oko expressed the hope that the conversation with presidential candidates would be useful in finding a lasting solution to the crises in the country.
The Vice President of CAN, Stephen Baba Panya took time to read the proposal of CAN at the forum.
He stated that Nigeria’s problem is mostly constitutional and partly managerial. “Nigeria is a poor and conflict-ridden country with neither justice nor equity. Why did our vision fail? Nigeria failed because of incoherence between the vision of justice, prosperity, and unity in diversity, and its institutions and practices of politics and economy.”
The umbrella Christian body noted in the document that “Nigeria instituted and entrenched the politics of exclusion; in place of protection of fundamental rights Nigeria embraced violations of the rights of its peoples; in place of justice for all, Nigeria practiced privilege for the few; and in place of secular, democratic governance, Nigeria promoted theocratic, neo-Feudal governance.”
The Labour Party Candidate is expected to meet with CAN on November 22. It is not clear yet when the PDP candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar will meet with the Christian body.