2023 Presidential Election: CAN Makes U-Turn, Presents Demands To Tinubu
Following vehement rejection of All Progressive Congress (APC), Presidential flag bearer, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu over the choice of his running mate, Kashim Shettima, there are indications that Christian leaders in the country have decided to reconsider their stance on the vexed issue of Muslim- Muslim ticket and may have given the APC presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the benefit of doubt ahead of the 2023 polls.
The emergence of former Borno State governor, Sen Kashim Shettima as vice presidential candidate of the governing APC was greeted with stiff opposition from the Christian community in the country, with Christian leaders and politicians vowing vehemently not to vote for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
But in what appeared to be a default to the belief that his intentions to govern Nigeria could be honest, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday presented a charter of demands and issues to the APC presidential candidate.
The Christian body demanded equal rights for all religions and their adherents, right to self-determination by all ethnic groups, right to control natural resources by communities that bear them, state police or a decentralised policing system, devolution of power to states, and equitable electoral system that guarantees the right to vote and be voted for by all among others.
CAN however told the APC standard bearer that it is vehemently opposed to open grazing in the country.
Tinubu who met with the CAN leaders in Abuja at an interactive session assured them that the same way his administration did not discriminate against anyone either based on tribe, religion or gender when he was Lagos State governor, he would not begin such discrimination if elected president in the 2023 general polls.
He was accompanied to the session by his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu; his running mate, Shettima, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Governors Hope Uzodinnma (Imo), David Umahi (Ebonyi), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq (Kwara); deputy Senate leader, Senator Boroffice Ajayi; Senate chief whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu; minister of Special Duties, George Akume, among other APC chieftains.
Presenting a document containing their demands during the interactive dialogue with the president candidates for the 2023 presidential election, president of CAN, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, explained that the document makes genuine recommendations for resolving Nigeria’s recurrent crises bordering on justice and fairness, equality of all ethnic and religious groups, equal access to basic economic and social rights, political freedom and an egalitarian and just social order.
Archbishop Okoh noted that Nigeria today has the worst economic indicators than at any time in its history, while the country is more divided than even the days that led to the civil war.
He stated that Nigeria also faces one of the gravest insecurity situations than at any other time in its history, adding that CAN is not interested in looking around for who to blame.
For this reason, he said CAN decided to develop a strategic policy document that carefully diagnoses the Nigerian crises and offers a considered framework for its resolution.
He added that in the new document, the association believes that the next president must give clear indication that Nigerians have common citizenship and that every Nigerian should be treated as a Nigerian, no matter his religion, tribe or where he lives.
The CAN president stated: “No Nigerian should be discriminated against on any matter of goods and services provided by any authority in Nigeria, whether at the federal or state levels.
“He (the next president) has to sign an executive order requiring all public officers and authorities in Nigeria to ensure they do not discriminate against any Nigerian on matters of ethnicity or religion.
“The Executive Order will require that all ministries, departments and agencies of the federal and state governments must follow strictly federal character in appointment, promotion and staffing.
society which he cherishes and will always support.
On his choice of Senator Kashim Shettima as his running mate, which has generated a lot of controversies, Tinubu assured the Christian body that he made the best available choice at his disposal without recourse to religious sentiments.
“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,” he noted.
Dispelling insinuations that his choice of shettima was meant to suppress Christians, Tinubu said, “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.”
He further shared his campaign policies with the Christian leaders, asking for their support.
In their contributions, Shettima, Gbajabiamila, Governor Ganduje and Kalu attest to Tinubu’s character and integrity.
They said he usually places merit and competence above any other factor in choosing who to work with and he is always moved to act in the best inte
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