About 500 prominent Christian clerics from the north and heads of various support groups within the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the region, have asked the party to prevail on Kashim Shettima to withdraw as Bola Tinubu’s running mate.
This is as the Muslim-muslim ticket of the ruling party continues to generate strong emotions among Christians in the country.
The clerics also warned that if their demand was not met before the expiration of the window period for withdrawal of candidates as stipulated in the Electoral Act (2022 as amended) i.e. 90 days to the election, the APC should be ready to lose the support of their millions of followers in the North.
The clerics and heads of the APC groups, which met today warned that it will withdraw the support of millions of its followers across the country should the ruling party proceed with Kassim Shettima as Bola Tinubu’s running mate.
They made their displeasure known in a communique issued on Wednesday morning at the end of a meeting held in Abuja to review the participation of Christians in the APC presidential campaign council.
The communique was jointly signed by Lucas Bako, Pst. Dauda Yakubu, Pst. Yuguda Augustine, Deaconess Jessica Nuhu, Elder Williams Unogwu, Dr. Theodore Uji, Pst. Ambas Kelvin, Mr. Haruna Vincent and Bish Emeka.
Lamenting the neglect of Christians, they said fielding the same faith ticket in an election is, by all standards, a national threat and one that must not be allowed to stand.
The communique reads, “Nigeria has already had enough insecurity and challenges, and contributing to further insecurity and challenges in the country should bother every well-meaning and concerned Nigerian.
“We understand that the argument against substituting the Muslim Vice Presidential candidate of the APC with a Northern Christian is based on its proponents because it is no longer possible. Still, we beg to differ by stating categorically that it is possible, adding that the APC can make the change if they have the interest of Nigeria at heart.
“To address this, a few steps must be taken, which in isolation or collectively will bring about the APC not fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket, but a Muslim-Christian ticket which, of course, should be the standard.
“The leadership of the APC should ensure the Vice Presidential candidate nominee resigns with immediate effect. As clearly stated in the new electoral amendment law, he should be made to officially write to INEC to notify them of his withdrawal from the race.
“Upon the APC vice Presidential candidate’s withdrawal from the race, the party’s leadership should notify the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by writing officially to the Commission about the development. This will allow a hitch-free substitution of the party’s Vice Presidential candidate.
“The new Electoral Act states that a candidate elected in the primary election of a party platform as its flag bearer for any position can resign his interest and withdraw from the contest by notifying INEC no later than 90 days before the election. If this window period is permissible for elected party candidates, how much more its surrogates
“If the APC can find a competent northern Christian to lead its 2023 general election campaign, finding a replacement for Kashim Shetima should not be a problem. APC should look through the many capable northern Christian members of the party who have contributed to its success since its formation and since its takeover of Nigeria’s national leadership.
“Neglecting these grievances around the party’s Muslim-Muslim ticket for the 2023 election could breed further resentment, costing the party its expected victory in the forthcoming election.
“There is already disaffection over APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket not only among Northern Christians, but among the generality of the Christian population of the country. Undoubtedly, the APC has tried its best to ensure effective leadership of the country by making efforts toward improving Nigeria. But it must be noted that the continuation of the APC in Nigeria’s national leadership in 2023 will ensure the sustainability of the party’s efforts towards improving Nigeria.”