The National Stakeholders of the ruling All Progressives Congress on Wednesday rallied support for the Tinubu/Shettima joint presidential ticket.
It, therefore, urged all APC members to close rank over the choice of Senator Kashim Shettima as the running mate to the presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
The group had earlier advised the APC presidential flagbearer against a Muslim-Muslim ticket, urging him to consider a competent Christian from the North.
But at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, the Convener of the group, Aliyu Audu, said the group had a rethink, after realising that Tinubu’s decision on his running mate was in the best interest of the country.
Audu noted that the decision must have been a tough one for Tinubu to take.
He said, “For the past few weeks, members of the APC and indeed Nigerians have waited anxiously to see who will be the running mate of our party’s presidential candidate in the 2023 general election. With Tinubu’s announcement of Shettima as his running mate, the wait is over and the next phase of the electioneering process is birthed.
“While we may have advocated for the selection of a running mate with a faith different from that of the presidential candidate to give the sense of inclusion to followers of both major religions we are aware that to build an effective working society we must prioritize capacity, competence, character over religion and ethnicity especially as prioritising such sentiments in the past have not provided the desired goal of sense of inclusion which can only truly be achieved when all Nigerians experience good governance at all levels regardless of their faith, ethnicity or social class.
“We are however enthused that he approached the decision with all the seriousness, sensitivity and wide consultations it demands and as such believe that he made the best decision in the overall Interest of our unity, national growth, development and progress, without allowing unproductive premordial sentiments to derail or affect our collective goal of building and sustaining a working society where integrity, competence, character and capacity play huge roles.
“This has reaffirmed our trust and confidence in his abilities as a leader to make decisions whose overall interest for the country, either in the immediate or for the future towers above sentiments that are though equally important but not enough requirement for the leaders we need to prosecute the tasks ahead.
“It is on this basis that we call on patriotic and well-meaning Nigerians to see this as a confirmation that our next president will not shy away from making tough decisions when the needs arise and that such decisions would be made in the best interest of our collective success while also taking every sentiment into consideration.”
While commending Tinubu for nominating Shettima, the group promised to commit themselves to massively mobilising unprecedented votes and margins ever recorded in the history of presidential elections in Nigeria.
On the virtues of Shettima, the group said, “The birth of a new Nigeria that works is upon us and we have every belief that Shettima is one of the vehicles to that destination. His track record of bringing developments close to the people while he served as governor of Borno State, despite the challenges posed by the Boko Haram insurgency places him above his peers.
“As a Senator, he has proven his mettle by moving motions and bills critical to the advancement of the nation. He is a patriotic Nigerian who knows not the social, cultural, religious, economic and political structure of the country but lives by them. His ability to relate with people of different tribes and religions, a quality he has demonstrated by having some of his closest aides from the southern region and of a different faith stands him out as one of the most detribalised Nigerians of today.
“We are therefore excited by his choice as the APC presidential running mate and we welcome, embrace and endorse the decision with the belief that it will birth a new Nigeria where ethnicity, religion, gender or place of origin will not constitute impediments to the growth and development of every citizen.
“We promise to commit ourselves in ensuring not only the victory of the ticket, but one with unprecedented vote and margins ever recorded in the history of the presidential contest in the country.”