May 24, 2024

A coalition of stakeholders of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC from the North East and North Central have urged the party to revisit its choice of Kashim Shettima and Governor Simon Lalong as a vice-presidential candidate and campaign director-general respectively.

The group noted that the party’s insistence on the same faith ticket has caused untold disaffection in its ranks.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday in Abuja, Secretary-General of the group, Dauda Yakubu, said the leadership of the APC must address the alleged marginalisation of Christians in the party before September 20 slated by Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to publish the final list of candidates for the presidential election.

According to Yakubu, the choice of Shettima as Bola Tinubu’s running mate is insensitive and utter disrespect for the ethnic and religious plurality of the country.

“The leadership of the Coalition of North East and North Central APC Stakeholders is holding this press conference to drive home a crucial point that can affect the party’s electoral chances in the forthcoming presidential elections,” Yakubu said.

“It remains a known fact that the Muslim-Muslim Ticket of the party has indeed caused untold disaffection in the ranks of the party, especially in the North East and the North Central states in the country.

“The choice of Senator Kashim Shettima as the Vice Presidential Candidate of the APC has indeed questioned the position of our great party on mutual respect for the ethnic and religious plurality of the country.

“This is on the heels that the party elected to disregard the highly qualified and loyal party members from the North East and North Central region of Christian origin as Vice Presidential candidates of the party.

“This action was insensitive and a gross display of insensitivity and strategy by the party’s leadership. We must state that since the return of democracy in 1999, it has been the trend for ethnic and religious balancing of political positions to give all a sense of belonging in the Nigerian project”.

Yakubu noted that the appointment of Governor Lalong as campaign director-general “is a feeble attempt at assuaging the Christian stakeholders in the party that has contributed immensely to the development of the party”.

He added that it is not enough to assuage the Muslim-Muslim ticket’s ill feelings generated across the country, as it is viewed as an insult to the sensibilities of Christians.

To avoid outright rejection in 2023, the coalition, therefore, urged the party to resolve the impasse that has come about as a result of the Muslim-Muslim ticket. Yakubu, however, urged the APC to initiate steps and measures toward replacing Shettima with a notable party member of Christian faith.

“The leadership of the APC must take advantage of INEC’s final list of presidential candidates, which is to be published on September 20, to quickly address the wrong and hand the party’s Vice Presidential ticket to a Christian to assuage the feelings of those still aggrieved,” Yakubu said.

“The leadership of the APC must realize that there is a lot at stake for the party should it go ahead with the Muslim-Muslim Ticket. The party must not be perceived as disregarding and disrespecting the Christian community in Nigeria.

“The implication of such is massive electoral losses. The party’s leadership must also realize that other political parties adopted the Muslim-Christian tickets, and the APC must not be an exemption.

“The Muslim-Muslim Ticket can only lead to the path of destruction for the party. As concerned stakeholders, we are using this medium to call on the party’s leadership to effect a change in the composition of the party’s presidential Ticket.”

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