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How Tinubu Shunned North-West Governors, Settled For Shettima

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Details have emerged on how the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, shunned overtures from North-West governors to pick one of them as his running mate.

Rather than bowing to the pressure from the governors, Tinubu on Sunday picked a former Governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima.

It was gathered that the governors preferred the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu and his Kaduna State counterpart, Nasir El-Rufai, but Tinubu initially offered the ticket to the Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum.

It was learnt that one of the causes of the delay in selecting a running mate was the refusal of Zulum to accept Tinubu’s offer.

Top sources told The PUNCH that Tinubu had offered Zulum the ticket on a silver platter but he refused to take it.

An associate of Tinubu who wished to remain anonymous, said, “Based on wide consultations as well as a survey, Zulum was the most popular option. He was repeatedly offered the ticket but he turned it down for two main reasons. The first was that he was eager to complete his tenure as governor of Borno State and implement his reconstruction programme.

“Secondly, his loyalty to Shettima was also a factor. Zulum was Shettima’s commissioner when he handpicked him as his successor in 2019. They have maintained a cordial relationship which is rare between governors and their predecessors. Zulum finally stated that he would only accept the VP slot if Shettima asked him to take it.

“But it was difficult for Tinubu’s men to ask Shettima to plead with Zulum to take the job when it was obvious that Shettima also wanted the job. With INEC’s deadline fast approaching, Shettima became the sure option. In any case, Shettima’s loyalty to Tinubu has never been in doubt. So, it became easy to settle for him.”

Earlier last week, the six North-West governors who are members of the All Progressives Congress had met with a view to ensuring that Tinubu picks one of them as a running mate.

One of the governors, who was said to have been interested in the position was Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State who is one of the biggest advocates of the Muslim-Muslim ticket having successfully implemented it in his state.

However, El-Rufai’s frosty relationship with the Christian community was said to have discouraged Tinubu.

Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State could also not be considered despite his closeness to Tinubu because of the party crisis in his state that had contributed to the popularity of Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and the New Nigeria Peoples Party.

It was learnt that associates of Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, who is also the Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, had reached out to Tinubu with a view to ensuring that he gets the ticket since he is the only northern Christian governor in the APC.

However, Lalong’s popularity in the North was said not to be strong enough to boost Tinubu’s chances.

In a chat interview on Sunday, federal lawmaker, Mr James Faleke, who is the founder of the Tinubu Support Group, said picking Shettima was a master stroke.

Faleke said the streets of Borno had been agog with celebrations since the former governor was announced as the Vice-Presidential candidate of the APC.

“The thinking behind it is who will deliver? It is not about religion. The entire Borno is rejoicing over his choice as VP. He is very popular. Even Governor Zulum has thanked Tinubu,” he said.

Plateau commissioner

The Plateau State Commissioner for Information, Dan Manjang, in an interview with The PUNCH, said Lalong had no ill feeling over his non-selection.

The commissioner said, “The selection of the running mate to the APC presidential candidate remains the prerogative of the presidential candidate himself. And he (Tinubu )would not have done that (selection of ex-Borno gov) without the knowledge of the party. Of course, the Governor (Simon Lalong) would have been happy if he was chosen as the running mate. But since that did not happen, he has no ill-feeling towards the party’s decision on the issue as he remains a loyal party man who will work for the success of the APC during the 2023 poll.”

Earlier on Sunday, Tinubu met with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in Daura, the President’s hometown.

Speaking with journalists after the meeting, Tinubu revealed that he had picked Shettima as his running mate, adding that he had not informed the former governor of his decision.

In a later statement signed by his Campaign Spokesman, Bayo Onanuga, the APC candidate said he was aware of Shettima’s religion. However, he decided to pick him still because the task of rebuilding Nigeria was beyond religious affiliation.

He reassured Nigerians that his selection was not based on religion nor taken to please certain individuals, communities and organisations.

The ex-governor said, “I am mindful of the energetic discourse concerning the possible religion of my running mate. Just and noble people have talked to me about this. Some have counselled that I should select a Christian to please the Christian community. Others have said I should pick a Muslim to appeal to the Muslim community. Clearly, I cannot do both.

“Both sides of the debate have impressive reasons and passionate arguments supporting their positions. Both arguments are right in their own way. But neither is right in the way that Nigeria needs at the moment. As President, I hope to govern this nation toward uncommon progress. This will require innovation. It will require steps never before taken. It will also require decisions that are politically difficult and rare.”

Shortly before Tinubu’s declaration, Ibrahim Masari, the APC chieftain who had stood as a surrogate running mate, announced his decision to step aside.

Masari, the surrogate running mate, stepped aside to pave the way for the name of the substantive running mate to be submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission within five days to the deadline.

While calling for understanding in a statement released on Sunday by his media team, the national leader of the APC stated that he was focused on returning Nigeria to its past glory.

Tinubu added, “Today, I announce my selection with pride because I have made it not based on religion or to please one community or the other. I made this choice because I believe this is the man who can help me bring the best governance to all Nigerians, period, regardless of their religious affiliation or considerations of ethnicity or region.

“May I say this to all of you, especially to those who will be disappointed in my selection based on religious considerations. I will not and cannot ignore the religious concerns and ethnic sensitivities of our people. Taking them into due consideration is an important part of good and able governance

“But ethnicity and region cannot always and fully determine our path. To forge ahead as a nation toward development and prosperity, we must break free of old binds. We must recalibrate our political calculations to where competence and fairness matter more than reductive demographics.”

CAN, Kukah react

Reacting to Tinubu’s declaration, however, the Christian Association of Nigeria said it was unfortunate that the APC candidate had failed to take the country’s religious diversity into consideration.

Before now, there had been warnings from CAN, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and Civil Society Organisations against fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket for the 2023 presidential election.

In an interview on Sunday, the Spokesman for the CAN President, Rev. Adebayo Oladeji, said making such a decision in a polarised country was a wrong move.

He stated that if having a pastor as the vice president of the country and Christian clerics and worshipers are being killed, the security of lives and properties of Christians under a Muslim-Muslim could not be guaranteed.

Oladeji, however, warned that Nigerians should be ready to face the consequences of their actions if they endorsed and vote for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.

He said, “We knew this was what he was going to do and we have warned against it. It is up to Nigerians to decide on what they want. You are all alive when we warned Buhari not to allow Muslims to dominate the security architecture of the country and he did it.

“I think we can see the way the criminals are operating with impunity. So, if Tinubu says he is opting for a Muslim-Muslim ticket in a polarised country like ours, if Nigerians endorse him and vote for him, whatever happens, Nigerians will face the consequences.

“We are raising our alarm, it is an irony that Buhari they regarded as an extremist when we raised an alarm to warn him against a Muslim-Muslim ticket, he heeded and opted for a Christian as his vice presidential candidate.”

But revered Catholic Bishop, Matthew Kukah, said Tinubu was free to pick whoever he wanted just as a coach is free to select the players on his team.

Kukah, who is the Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, said it was up to Nigerians to decide if they want a Muslim-Muslim President and Vice-President or not.

He said, “This is what you call team selection and everybody will choose depending on what they think will give them a fair chance. So people will take responsibility for the choices they have made. For me, it is not something to lose sleep over.

“If people feel unhappy with the kind of choices that have been made, that is why we are democrats, you can’t force it. We outsiders cannot force a choice of any candidate. It is now left for you to look at the choices that have been made. And there is no guarantee that all Christians will vote for Christians and all Muslims will vote for Muslims.”

Also, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, Ignatius Kaigama, said Nigeria was not ripe for a same faith Presidential ticket.

The cleric added, “When you decide that only one religion will produce the major actors, excluding others who will become like strangers, it would not be fair and just. For the sake of religious sensitivity in a place like Nigeria, it is good that we have a balance so that we become like one big family.”

Also, Rev fr. Mike Umoh, Director of Social Communication, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, argued that the Muslim-Muslim ticket was insensitive.

“We have made our stance and made it clear. Muslim/Muslim ticket doesn’t make sense; it is unhealthy and insensitive for now,” Umoh stated.

The President, Arewa Christians and Indigenous Pastors Association, Luke Shehu, maintained that the APC would not get the votes of northern Christians.He said, “If this is true, then believe me APC will not get the desired votes from the Northern Christians, the generality of Christians and they will lose the votes of the Hausa for simply being a Fulani man. This is because evidently, the Hausas have been provoked by the recent incessant attacks and kidnapping by the Fulani marauders.

“These recent developments have brought to their memory their experiences and lost since Danfodio and Ahmadu Bello.”

Zulum hails Tinubu

Reacting, however, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, described the choice of Shettima as perfect.

Keyamo on a tweet said, “Quintessential banker and economist, suave gentleman and politician, intellectually fertile, economically sound, intergenerational mobile (he’s young, yet experienced), fiercely loyal, phenomenally complimentary to Tinubu. Kashim Shettima is the perfect choice as VP”.

Also, Zulum hailed Tinubu for picking Shettima as his running mate.

The governor, in a statement he personally signed, said he was sure that with both Tinubu and Shettima on the ticket, the APC would win next year’s election.

“It has been my greatest wish that Kashim Shettima gets this elevation that he so much deserves as one of Nigeria’s highly patriotic leaders. For me, and I am sure for many leaders and members of the APC, Tinubu’s choice of Shettima is the wisest choice at this point in time.

“Shettima’s choice is very personal to me and together with our leaders and all stakeholders and members of the APC, we shall campaign vigorously, work day and night, to collectively secure overwhelming victory for the APC in 2023,” he said

Zulum added that there is hardly any tribe in any of Nigeria’s 36 states and the FCT that Shettima cannot knowledgeably speak about.

“He knows the social, cultural, religious, economic and political structure of virtually all the 36 States and the FCT,” said the Borno governor.

Professor Jacob Ayantayo of the Department of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “A Muslim-Muslim ticket is not a problem, we are just theorising, and if that is what is going to pay him, so be it. We are not politicians, politicians are in their own world, to them, It is a game of number, not sentiment.”

Also, a professor of African Traditional Religion, Lagos State University, Ojo, Danoye Oguntola-Laguda, said, “A Muslim-Muslim ticket can still go. Nigeria is a secular state; section 10 of our constitution says no religion shall determine the politics of the state and all other interests. There is always going to be the interest of others while picking candidates, while we are saying this, it is just a norm, not a rule. In 1993, people came up with the argument that it won’t work, but it eventually worked. There is nothing wrong with a Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket as the case may be.’’

Credit: The Punch

BIG STORY

2023: Atiku Will Win By 7 Million Votes Margin — Ayu

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The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Iyiorcha Ayu, has boasted that its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, will shock Nigerians during the 2023 elections by winning with a landslide margin of seven million votes.

He stated this while speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting held on Wednesday at the Multi-Purpose Indoor Sports Hall, Bauchi.

Atiku had earlier received thousands of defectors from the All Progressives Congress and other political parties, at a ceremony held the same day at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi.

It was gathered that Abubakar was flanked by his running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa; the National Chairman of the party, Iyiorcha Ayu; Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and the Director-General of the Presidential Campaign Council and Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal and former Vice President Namadi Sambo.

Governors of Bauchi, Bala Mohammed; Adamawa, Umaru Fintiri, and of Taraba, Darius Ishaku, and their deputies were also in attendance.

Former governors of Jigawa, Sule Lamido; Adamawa, Boni Haruna and Gombe, Ibrahim Dankwambo; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; among other dignitaries, were also present.

However, none of the governors and the PDP chieftains loyal to the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, was in attendance at the rally.

Addressing the stakeholders from the North-East, Ayu said that the PDP did not want to be strong on social media nor did it want to be strong based on manipulated images on television.

He, however, confessed that he had fears that the venue of the rally would be empty with people refusing to attend.

He said, “While we were coming here today, I was apprehensive that perhaps, when we come, the North-East will not come out. A political party is the people, it is not just the leaders, sometimes, we lay too much emphasis on the leaders.

“Today, we see that the PDP is the strongest party in Nigeria. Those who have been building imaginary rallies; today, it was not a rally, it was a reception but we saw the number of people that came out like bees. That is to tell you that the PDP is strong on the ground, we don’t want to be strong on social media, we don’t want to be strong only on manipulated images on television, we want to see the real people.”

Ayu admonished the people to come out en masse and vote for all the candidates of the PDP from the State Assembly to the President in order to shame the enemies of the party who had been doing all they could to divide the party and had been lying that the party was divided.

“And today, it was clear that the PDP is a strong party. There are enemies of the party who are determined to cause division among us, who are telling lies about divisions in the PDP.

“I want to assure you that they will be disappointed because at the end of the day, this party will come up en masse and vote for all our candidates from bottom to top, not from top to bottom but from the bottom to the top – all our House and National Assembly candidates, and all our governors will come back to office.

“And of course, having stayed out of power for eight years, the PDP is marching massively to Aso Villa with President Atiku Abubakar. He will resume back to the place where he has experience there as a Vice President and assisted ably, by Vice President Ifeanyi Okowa,” he stated.

The PDP National Chairman added that: “In a presidential election, if you don’t win Bauchi, you can’t win the presidency, and we are very sure that with what we saw today; the massive mobilisation that has been done, we are certainly on our way to victory.

“Atiku is your son, the North-East has never had a President before, and yet, when democracy started, the North-East led the way with Alhaji Tafawa Balewa. Power is returning to the North-East, vote for your son, come out en masse, it is not enough to come for the rally.

“All of you should have a Permanent Voter Card make sure you campaign at your polling unit, don’t campaign only at rallies, we don’t want people in Abuja, everybody must go back home to his polling unit. On that day (election day), we will shock Nigerians, the victory margin is going to be seven million votes.

“Atiku Abubakar will move to the Villa and we will rescue the country from all the damages that the present government has done. We have suffered insecurity in the North-East, you are suffering from hunger, you are suffering from diseases. The PDP under the leadership of President Atiku Abubakar will correct these ills.”

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NAPTIP Arrests Woman Who Beats Maid To Death, Bury Her Body In Anambra [Graphic Photos/Video]

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It was gathered that the woman who confessed to the crime took NAPTIP officials to the bush where she buried the child.

Confessing the crime, the woman said she beat the deceased and as a result, she started convulsing.

She took the maid to one Kings hospital but unfortunately, the maid died on getting there.

The woman then threw her body into a bush where she subsequently buried her.

“I beat her and she started convulsing so I took her to Kings (hospital). Getting there, she died, so I threw her body here.”, the woman confessed.

When NAPTIP officials got to the burial site, the child’s body was already decomposing.

The woman will be charged to court.

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DID YOU MISS IT? Read Details Of 26-Yr-Old Nigerian Arrested For 68 Armed Robberies In US

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The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has arrested a 26-year-old Nigerian serial robber, Charles Chukwuma Onwuemelie popularly known as the “Blue Cloth Bandit.”

LAPD allegedly accused Onwuemelie, who was arrested on Wednesday, of 68 armed robberies that have gone down in the LA area since October 2021.

According to Fox News, Onwuemelie was dubbed “Blue Cloth Bandit” by LAPD in its press statement because he allegedly “used a blue cloth to cover the handgun used in the robberies that occurred at gas stations, 7-11s, and Walmarts.”

“The suspect would conceal himself by wearing different hats, a face mask, and rubber gloves. The same vehicle was used in many of the robberies, and the same suspect was linked to the robberies based on several factors.”

Blue Cloth Bandit’s last attempt happened on September 23, when detectives devised a strategy to use surveillance and serve a search warrant.

Surveillance footage released by the LAPD disclosed that the suspect appeared to acquire items at a store before he revealed his gun enclosed by a blue cloth.

He was also seen in the video wearing blue gloves and a hat that hid his face.

Police retrieved a firearm and other evidence from the scene of Onwuemelie’s latest alleged robbery linking him to the crime.

The suspect has been charged with 16 counts of a robbery that allegedly occurred within LA city limits, though officials expect the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to file additional charges for various other robberies that seemingly occurred within the county.

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