An Islamic group, The Concerned Yoruba Muslim Scholars in Nigeria, has advised Nigerians to consider competence above religious or ethnic considerations in electing a president for the country in 2023.
Prof. Abideen Olaiya, Secretary-General of the group, gave the advice on Monday at a news conference in Ibadan.
Reports have it that the choice of Sen. Kashim Shettima, as the running mate to APC Presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, had generated outcry by some Nigerians.
Our correspondent reports that many had criticised the Tinubu-Shettima ticket on the grounds that the duo were of the same religious faith.
Olaiya said that Nigeria at present desired good governance, regardless of religion or ethnic affiliation of whoever was capable of delivering it.
He said the group was alarmed at the outcry by some section of Christian leaders and followers on the choice of Shettima as Tinubu’s running mate for 2023 presidential election.
“We are greatly shocked at the height of the prejudice being expressed by the opposition parties masquerading under different names or groups.
“It is an undeniable fact that Nigeria at present desire good governance regardless of religion and/or ethnic affiliation of whoever is capable of delivering it,” he said.
Olaiya said that Nigerians had always lived with their differences, adding such differences should not be placed above competency in electing their leaders.
He expressed disappointment that those who were supposed to be moral guide for a united and prosperous nation have now become agents of the opposition party.
“It is, therefore, compelling to remind and enlighten well-meaning Nigerians about the potential of these great candidates who are of unassailable competencies.
“This Islamisation twaddle must stop while we call to the honourable path of tolerance, godliness and good governance as sustainable panacea to the malady going on in our public domain,” Olaiya said.
He said that the track record of Tinubu as a former Governor and in fact, the founding leader of modern Lagos, was evergreen and enduring.
Olaiya said that the foundation laid by Tinubu in Lagos State was unparalleled to the extent that the state had unarguably attained the fifth most advanced economy in Africa.
“Tinubu’s achievements in the area of human capital development can be fact-checked in different parts of the country.
“It is another parameter that positions him as the most deserving President Nigeria should not miss in the midst of the current challenges bedeviling the country,” he said.
The group secretary-general said that the choice of Kashim Shettima as the running mate to Tinubu was most appropriate and well deserved.
“We recall that Shettima is a detribalised politician who, as a governor, appointed and empowered aides from across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
“Shettima worked with Igbo, Urhobo, Benin, Hausa and Yoruba, all of whom were of Christian faith, despite being Muslim of Kanuri extract,” he said.
Olaiya said there was no doubt that Nigeria at the present dispensation needed an openhearted and competent technocrat of long-standing experience like that of Shettima.
“Without being exaggerative, both Tinubu and Shetima had indeed shown their competencies in the manner they transformed their respective states while being governors.
“The records are there in the public domain.
Another quality that stands them out is their ability and foresight in choosing transformational leaders to continue their developmental legacies,” he said.
Olaiya said it was disheartening how some anti-Tinubu/Shettima groups had sacrificed the sterling leadership and administrative competencies of the duo on the altar of religious sentiment.
He said that reducing the discourse on the 2023 presidential election to religious affiliations of candidates alone was myopic and anti-progress.
The group secretary-general said that such would further widen the existing fault-lines and create more tensions in the polity.
Olaiya urged the purveyors of hate and disinformation against the Tinubu/Shettima ticket to stop fanning the embers of hatred among the peace-loving Nigerians.
“We seek a secured, politically stable, economically prosperous and religious tolerant Nigeria.
“As we near 2023, we call on all well-meaning Nigerians to shun campaigns of hate, bigotry and focus on issues of concern for the betterment of people’s welfare,” he said.