Vice-President Kashim Shettima, on Monday, denied disparaging Northern Muslims over the battle for the leadership of the 10th National Assembly.
Shettima spoke while condemning some organisations that misinterpreted his disposition while establishing that the Senate President seat should be reserved for a Southern Christian to make a balanced government.
He said this in a statement titled, ‘VP Shettima Didn’t Disparage Northern Muslims’ issued by his Director of Information, Abiola Sola.
The statement partly reads, “During an interactive session with senators campaigning for the emergence of Senator Godswill Akpabio and Senator Barau Jibrin to lead the 10th Senate, yesterday, Vice President Kashim Shettima emphasized the nation’s current political structure and made a case for the emergence of a Southern Christian and a Northern Muslim as the fairest balance to promote inclusivity at the centre.
“Vice President Shettima’s statement was motivated by a profound awareness of the divisive factors within our great nation and was in harmony with the governing party’s pledge to ensure inclusivity across all regions and among all groups.
“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has wholeheartedly reassured the country of his dedication to providing every group with equal representation, which has resonated with the Vice President who shares the same commitment to this honourable endeavour.
“Unfortunately, the Vice President’s remarks during the parley with the senators, yesterday, have been stripped of context and mischievously circulated as an attempt to minimize the suitability of Muslim contestants in the race for the Senate leadership. The remarks have not only been taken out of context but also misinterpreted to suit an agenda that sabotages our collective bid for unity.
“What Vice President Shettima advocated during the meeting was that, considering Nigeria’s President and Vice President are Muslims, it would not be ill-advised for the lawmakers to choose a non-Muslim contestant, even if against a more qualified Muslim option, in order to achieve balance.
“It is alarming that such an unambiguous plea has been unfairly misconstrued to imply that the Vice President said the most incompetent Christian candidate is superior to a Muslim candidate. One can understand why this absurd interpretation would be found distressing and hijacked by those with a malicious agenda to push.”
Shettima also stated that his stance for the next Senate President to emerge from the South was the position of the ruling All Progressives Congress, adding that it would be illogical to have the leaderships of the two Chambers come from the North-West as Muslims, when the President and Vice President are Muslims.
The statement added, “Vice President Shettima’s position reflects the stance of the APC, which has not only assigned the leadership of the House of Representatives to the North-West but has also designated the position of Deputy Senate President to be held by the same region.
“At the time of the Vice President’s remarks, approximately three contenders for the Speakership race had withdrawn their candidacy to support the candidate from the North-West. This well-considered balancing strategy aimed to mitigate the potential for crisis within the country, particularly by those anticipating the domination of leadership from the same religious faith in all branches of government as a signal.
“It would be illogical for the Vice President, who is himself a Muslim and an essential member of the community, to second-guess the competence of fellow Muslims in a nation headed by a Muslim President who has demonstrated unmatched leadership qualities, on the strength of which they were elected under the banner of the APC last February.
“The Vice President wishes to distance himself from the wrong and dangerous inferences drawn by the public from his remarks. While some are made innocently and without mischief, there are entities that have seized on the story to cause further chaos that transcends the realm of power politics. This weaponization of our divisions is why the Vice President appeals for inclusivity to prevent any agenda designed to undermine the new government and Nigeria as a whole.”