The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu said he can’t Islamise Nigeria because his family members including his wife, Remi Tinubu, and children are all Christians.
Bola Tinubu Woos CAN
The former Lagos governor spoke on Wednesday during an interactive session with the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Abuja, led by Archbishop Daniel Ukoh.
Tinubu dismissed those who described him as a religious bigot, saying the choice of Muslim running mate, Kashim Shettima, had nothing to do with religion.
“I know people have reacted harshly to my selection. They have done so without knowing the man or giving him or me a fair chance. The rumour that this is some plot to suppress the Christian community is untrue and unfortunate.
“I can no more suppress the Christians of this nation than I can suppress the Christians in my own household, my very family. 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,” he said.
Tinubu said despite his decision to pick a Muslim running mate, he saw all Nigerians as equals and as brothers and sisters in one national family.
He said, “This means no one is inherently inferior or superior to anyone else, regardless of faith, place of origin, social status and gender. Anyone, who does not hold this fair and equitable view, should not run for president in a country such as ours.
“You, as an organization and as individual leaders of CAN, are entrusted as the watch person of the welfare of this society from a Christian perspective; which means functioning in an atmosphere of charity, understanding, patience and wisdom.
“I understand the tremendous importance of your work and have nothing but the deepest respect for your selfless contributions to our national cause.
“I did not come here to flatter you. Yet, it is necessary to state that I see your work as essential. No society or nation can rightly function or achieve greatness without its moral and ethical fibre being properly intact.
Tinubu assured CAN that the same way his administration did not discriminate against anyone either based on tribe, religion or gender when he was Lagos governor, he would not start such in office as president.
“My belief in the need for secular government and faith-based organizations to work for unity is not something adopted recently to benefit my campaign.
“This co-operative agenda describes my entire political career. As governor of Lagos, I partnered with Christians to improve lives and foster education. For instance, I returned mission schools to their owners, most of whom are Christians.
“I instituted yearly Christian Denomination Service at the Governor’s residence as we approached the new year. This tradition continues in Lagos. More importantly, we 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 failure,” he said.
Speaking on why he chose Shettima as his running mate, Tinubu said his decision was based on capacity, cordiality, and one who could help him win the election.
“This brings me to the question on the minds of many here. Why Senator Kashim Shettima? Why a same faith ticket? Well, I did not choose Senator Shettima so that we 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. 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. I am not saying there were not good and adequate potential running mates of the Christian faith.
“What I am saying is 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.
“Every time I thought about it, and I did think a lot; I came to the same conclusion: Kashim Shettima His faith was immaterial. He is a brilliant man with superior intellectual capacity. He is studious and detailed-oriented.
“Enjoying excellent organization skills, Shettima fully understands the vital difference between governance and politics.
“This exceptionally gifted human being has humility of spirit, courage of his convictions and a strongly progressive world view in harmony with my own perspectives on government and its relationship to the governed.
“I trust the calibre of the man. I know the great lengths he went in fighting Boko Haram in his state. He did his best to protect the Christian community and rebuilt damaged churches.
“This man understands the value of our national diversity in all of its ramifications, including religious. He possesses the courage to stand up to those who would wreck that diversity and freedom,” he said.
The APC presidential candidate added that, “My team, Senator Shettima and I have drafted our Action Plan for Nigeria titled: Renewed Hope.
“This agenda is based on the progressive notion that our economy must be recalibrated to ensure better jobs and wages for people. That all are entitled to basic health care and education.
“We will combat hunger and poverty by growing more food and better rewarding farmers for their toil.
“We shall revive our industrial capacity to provide work for our growing urban population and to produce more of the things that we need. Where the private sector thrives, we will not attempt to fix what is not broken.
“Where it falters, government shall lend a hand to keep people employed and the economy vibrant. Where there is a gap, we must fill it so that we more fully employ our idle workforce and productive capacity.
“We must better tend to the poor, vulnerable and elderly by strengthening the social safety net. We shall end the fuel subsidy because it has become an unproductive policy favouring an elite that needs no favours while giving the people precious little.
“Funds that were previously used for the subsidy will be invested in public transportation and other infrastructure, education, and health.
“Fiscal power and authority shall be recalibrated to give the states more latitude to better fulfil their mandate of grassroots development and empowerment of people and local communities, This includes assessing each state’s best option regarding a more active role in crime prevention and law enforcement.”
KanyiDaily recalls that the General Overseer of the Champions Royal Assembly, Prophet Joshua Iginla had said that Tinubu’s Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket is a “sign of war” on Christians.