"I'm not running for office on the basis of religion," Tinubu tells CAN


Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate for the All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday promised the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) that, if elected, his administration will not be administered on the basis of religion.

When he met with the CAN leadership in Abuja, Tinubu recalled that when he was governor of Lagos State, his administration did not discriminate against anyone based on their tribe, religion, or gender.

He said as president, he would not depart from his previous position.

He was accompanied to the session by his wife and Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) pastor, Senator Oluremi Tinubu; running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima; House of Representatives Speaker 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, Senator George Akume and other chieftains.

The APC candidate was provided with a charter of demands by the CAN leadership, led by new President Daniel Ukoh.

State police or a decentralized policing system is one of them. Devolution of power to states is another. Equal rights for all religions and their adherents is another. All ethnic groups have the right to self-determination. Communities that bear natural resources have the right to control those resources. Open grazing is another.

Tinubu said: “My belief in the need for secular government and faith-based organisations to work in unison is not something adopted recently to benefit my campaign.

“As governor of Lagos, I partnered with the Christians to improve lives and foster education. For instance, I returned mission schools to their owners, most of who are Christians.

“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.

“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. I may not be perfect. What human being is? But I am not a petty man secretly wedded to secret biases and prejudices.

“As such, I see all Nigerians as equals and as brothers and sisters in our national family. This means no one is inherently inferior or superior to anyone else, regardless of faith, place of origin, social status and gender.

“Anyone who does not hold this fair and equitable view, should not run for president in a country such as ours.”

Tinubu acknowledged that some reacted harshly to his choice of running without knowing the man or giving him 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 a Christian wife and children, hearing such allegations is hurtful.”

On his choice of Shettima, Tinubu said he made the best available choice at his disposal without recourse to religious sentiments.

He stressed: “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.

“What I am saying is that the times we inhabit do not lend themselves to the good or adequate. We have urgent problems that lend themselves not to a Christian or Muslim solution. We need the best solution.

“Every time I thought about it, and I did think a lot; I came to the same conclusion: Kashim Shettima.

“His faith was immaterial. He is a brilliant man with superior intellectual capacity. He is studious and detailed oriented. Enjoying excellent organisational skills, Shettima fully understands the vital difference between governance and politics.

“This exceptionally gifted human being has the humility of spirit, the courage of his convictions and a strongly progressive worldview in harmony with my perspectives on government and its relationship to the governed.


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