Babachir Lawal, former secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), has criticised the choice of Kashim Shettima as running mate of Bola Tinubu, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Tinubu had, on Sunday, announced Shettima, former Borno governor, as his running mate for the 2023 elections.
While the development has elicited varied reactions, Lawal kicked against the decision and asked the APC to find a way to compel Tinubu to change his choice.
The former SGF, who has been at the forefront of the campaign for Tinubu, in a statement on Tuesday, said the APC presidential candidate’s choice amounted to exclusion, which would not bode well for the party even if it wins the election.
“I thought I will be able to avoid commenting on the disastrous error by my very good friend, Sen Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in his choice of a running mate. I will be the very last person to stand in the way of my very good friend Tinubu’s path to the presidency. This is because since 2011, my consuming passion has been for him to succeed Buhari as President of Nigeria,” the statement reads.
“It will not be true if I say that I did not see it coming. I have often read his body language, picked up snippets from several discussions with his lapdogs (some of whom, sadly are Christians but most of whom are Moslems) and I have conveyed my reservations to them against the pitfalls of a Moslem-Moslem ticket towards which I sensed they were drifting.
“As part of my obligation to him, a close friend, I had on many occasions argued the merits and demerits of both ticket permutations to him. I have done so in both verbal and written form and I have likewise, done so with some of his close respectable associates and friends. In all instances, I had left him with the sole responsibility for his final decision, arguing that in the end, the consequences of the outcome of any bad decision will be his to bear.
“There might be some collateral damages though. I have also on several occasions passed on to him counsel and messages from some well meaning Nigerians intended to alert him on the possible outcomes of the Presidential ticket permutations.
“Tinubu is a very good man. He is a great listener. He has a very humble and friendly disposition to every one. He is very generous in both cash and kind, especially where it could advance his political interests. But I have realised that it is in the nature of power that sycophants and lapdogs have the most influence on leaders with such character traits. They will lie to him, malign and disparage others and generally do anything to curry his favour and to also put well-meaning associates in bad light.
“I suspect this is what has happened to my friend. He has been cornered by self-serving, hero-worshiping lapdogs.
It never used to be like this. While in his hey-days in Lagos, he surrounded himself with smart, street-wise guys that could tell truth to power. He had Rauf Aregbesola, Yemi Osinbajo, Babatunde Fashola, Dele Alake, Muiz Banire, etc. The Lagos days were the days of think-tanks, strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation, principles and ideologies. But these people have since grown-up and moved up to establish their own systems leaving my friend stranded. Nature they say abhors vacuum.
“Welcome the Abuja equivalent. But the Abuja equivalent are people inflicted with the modern Nigerian diseases – religious bigotry, sycophancy and morbid tribalism. They are mostly political jobbers who are most times not averse to the application of diabolical means. Gone are the days of think-tanks and strategic planning. Gone are the days of principles and ideologies. Try and call a meeting; they will not attend. Try and make a plan; they will sabotage it. Everything is ad-hoc, everything is chaotic because they excel in such environments.
“The result is that they have played on his longterm ambition to be President and have built it into a sort of desperation and a crescendo that easily justifies this satanic resort to a Muslim-Muslim ticket. This is the calamity that has befallen my friend.”
Lawal, who described Shettima as “an overambitious man who has a Machiavellian bent and has lots of money with which to procure a preferred-candidate status among Tinubu’s lapdogs”, said the choice of a Muslim-Muslim ticket will be counter-productive.
“Alhaji Kashim Shetima is a Greek gift from the Northern governors to Tinubu. I advise Bola to make sure Kashima’s two hands are always in his plain sight and empty,” he said.
“True, based on the advice of his new friends, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has made his choice. And I am sure he thinks he is ready for the outcome of that choice. He has chosen to bring religion to the front burner of Nigerian politics. And being a Muslim, he has chosen to take sides with his own religion. For all he cares, Christians can go to blazes with their votes.
“But he must also be told that there will consequences for this choice. Some of them are that Christians all over the country will revolt against the APC to put the chances of his election in serious jeopardy. It will also put the election of all Christians standing for elections in Christian dominated areas in jeopardy. This could result in APC being a minority party in both the National and State Houses of Assembly.
“Now tell me which Christian will vote for APC with the following contraption: Moslem Presidential Candidate (Lagos), Moslem Vice Presidential Candidate (Borno), Moslem National Chairman (Nasarawa), Moslem Deputy National Chairman (Borno), Moslem President (Katsina); Moslem Senate President (Yobe); Moslem Speaker (Lagos); Moslem Deputy Speaker (Plateau) e.t.c.”
The former SGF also said if Tinubu thinks choosing a Muslim running mate will secure victory for him, he may be wrong as northern Muslims may vote for Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) instead.
“But, were he to win and become President of Nigeria, it will be as a sectional President; an Islamic President. And he will surely face massive discontent and opposition even before taking off,” he added.
“Expecting Nigerians to ignore this crass insensitivity to the country’s diversity amounts to acceding to the perpetration of very grave injustice and discrimination against a huge segment of the society.
“No one who seeks to be president of Nigeria should ever deploy the tool of religious extremism and exclusivism as a tool to win elections. This is very very dangerous. And this is very sad.
But, barring any last minute change of mind, Bola has made his choice. He should be bluntly told that in this choice, Nigerian Christians clearly see a pending Islamic Republic of Nigeria in its infancy and are right to be severely anxious.”
While advising Nigerians not to let anyone’s personal ambition cause division, Lawal urged Buhari or “whoever can do so” to compel Tinubu to rescind the decision.
“I will love for Bola to be our next President. But I am afraid a Moslem-Moslem ticket will be “Dead on Arrival”. And the arrival date according to INEC’s election time table is 25th February, 2023. This ticket will drag down the whole APC members to the pit. We all should reject it,” he said.
Source: Top Stories
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