There is fresh information regarding how the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has initiated moves to lobby and bribe some leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to get their support for its Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket.
Some top APC members of the Christian extraction have kicked against the Muslim-Muslim ticket and expressed their dissatisfaction with the choice of former Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima as Bola Tinubu’s running mate.
Tinubu and Shettima are Muslims – a combination that has triggered varying reactions since the former recently announced the latter as his running mate in Katsina.
Tinubu is from Southern Nigeria while Shettima, a former Borno governor, is from the Muslim-dominated Northern part of the country.
The APC Christian leaders have described the Muslim-Muslim ticket as an insult, particularly as the party’s leadership claimed that competence was the yardstick – implying that no Christian across the north possesses this quality.
CAN and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) have both kicked against the team of Tinubu and Shettima as the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the ruling party.
Some respected party members have either quit their membership or stepped aside from the APC’s presidential campaign and are now ready to hit the streets to drive home their grievances.
The APC candidate recently met with the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, following the controversy trailing the Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Sources at the weekend told SaharaReporters that Tinubu had set up a team of eminent persons with whom he was scheduled to meet the Christian leaders within the party and faith-based organisations like CAN, PFN and the Catholic, to appeal to them and secure their support.
“The APC, having failed to justify its Muslim-Muslim ticket through other mediums, have reached out to the leadership of the Christian Association in Nigeria to endorse its choice of vice presidential candidate,” a Christian leader and member of CAN told SaharaReporters.
“The APC has concluded plans to secure the endorsement of CAN towards quelling the agitations that have come about due to its choice of Senator Kashim Shettima, a Muslim as the vice-presidential candidate of the party.
“I can tell you authoritatively that APC leadership has sent emissaries to our leadership (CAN) to support or endorse the decision to field a Muslim-Muslim ticket. Talks are ongoing, and the inducement figure is very tempting. I won’t be shocked in the days and weeks ahead; we might see a statement from a faction of CAN endorsing the APC presidential team.
“This is a big challenge for the APC. I think it has realized that the Muslim-Muslim ticket has elicited resentment from most people who view such disposition as an affront to the sensibilities of Christians across the country.”
He continued, “My fear is that some CAN leaders may not resist the offer. It is structured in such a way that it would leave no traces behind. And the amount involved is huge. Talks are ongoing through a senior member of the association with the mandate to get the buy-in of other critical stakeholders in the association.”
The statement was corroborated by a close associate of one of the leaders of CAN. He stated that there had been tremendous pressure to appease the association.
“Before the unveiling of Kashim Shettima, some APC stalwarts reached out to the leadership of CAN, extending an invitation to attend the event. This was rebuffed by CAN, citing no moral justification to attend the event in the face of a clear lack of respect for the sensibilities of Christians in the country,” he said.
“The condition given was the replacement of Kashim Shettima as the vice-presidential candidate of the APC. The decision was hinged on the fact that other political parties respected the ethnic and religious sensitivities in the country, and the APC should not be an exception.”
He added, “I am ashamed of what is going on. I can’t believe that such a topic would be deliberated upon in the first instance. I know the money promised is very tempting, but as servants of the Lord, and at this stage, they ought to have risen above this inducement.
“Why do you think the Christian community can’t speak in one voice? Most of the members of CAN have been grandstanding. They are in the habit of taking care of themselves. If only Nigerians would realize the rot in CAN, they would henceforth take with a pinch of salt whatever statement that emanates from the association.”
An APC chieftain confirmed to SaharaReporters that emissaries had been sent to CAN leadership. He however denied the Christian leaders were being induced with cash.
“We are talking about competence over religious considerations. Talks have reached advanced stages through proxies.“
Calls put across by SaharaReporters to Felix Morka, APC spokesman were not answered or returned.