The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu on Wednesday met with the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria amid the controversies surrounding his decision to pick a running mate of the same faith at the 2023 presidential election.
The top Christian organization invited the former governor of Lagos State to participate in an interactive session where he could express his opinions and worries about the country.
According to the former governor, anyone who does not believe that all Nigerians are equal regardless of faith, place of origin, social class, or gender is not fit to contest at the presidential election.
Defending his choice of a Muslim running mate, Tinubu said he fostered an atmosphere of religious tolerance and inter-faith collaboration while as governor of Lagos state.
“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,” Tinubu said.
“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 failing. I never chased people out of Lagos nor made them feel unwanted. Under my administration, Lagos welcomed all comers and continues to do so today. After me, Lagos has had one Muslim and two Christian governors,” he added.
Explaining why he chose Kashim Shettima, Tinubu said his choice was based on ideology and not triggered by a purported hidden plot to Islamize Nigeria.
“I may not be perfect. What human being is? But I am not a petty man secretly wedded to secret biases and prejudices. 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,” he said further.
“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.