Vice President Kashim Shettima has raised the alarm over attempts at twisting his recent utterances in support of the candidacy of Senator Godswill Akpabio as President of the 10th Senate to cause disaffection.
Shettima, in a statement by Abiola Sola, Director of Information in the Office of the Vice President, said his support for Akpabio was not to look down on anybody or a section of the country but to underline the importance of diversity and justice.
“During an interactive session with senators campaigning for the emergence of Senator Godswill Akpabio and Senator Barau Jibrin to lead the 10th Senate, yesterday, Vice President Kashim Shettima emphasized the nation’s current political structure and made a case for the emergence of a Southern Christian and a Northern Muslim as the fairest balance to promote inclusivity at the centre.
“Senator Shettima’s statement was motivated by a profound awareness of the divisive factors within our great nation and was in harmony with the governing party’s pledge to ensure inclusivity across all regions and among all groups,” the statement explained.
Sola said Shettima’s statement was “stripped of context and mischievously circulated as an attempt to minimize the suitability of Muslim contestants in the race for the Senate leadership. The remarks have not only been taken out of context but also misinterpreted to suit an agenda that sabotages our collective bid for unity.
“What Senator Shettima advocated during the meeting was that, considering Nigeria’s President and Vice President are Muslims, it would not be ill-advised for the lawmakers to choose a non-Muslim contestant, even if against a more qualified Muslim option, in order to achieve balance.
“It is alarming that such an unambiguous plea has been unfairly misconstrued to imply that the Vice President said the most incompetent Christian candidate is superior to a Muslim candidate. One can understand why this absurd interpretation would be found distressing and hijacked by those with a malicious agenda to push.”
Shettima said the advocacy is a well-considered balancing strategy aimed to mitigate the potential for crisis within the country, “particularly by those anticipating the domination of leadership from the same religious faith in all branches of government as a signal”.
He said already a section of the political class was working along that line to use the outcome to deepen their campaigns of calumny against the country and the Tinubu administration.
“Some entities and individuals were covertly pushing for Muslim leadership of the National Assembly with the sole aim of using the instance to legitimize their grievances against the Nigerian state and to prove to their communities that they have been marginalized and must rise to cause chaos. This sheds light on the paradoxical situation where the same lawmakers who opposed a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket are now actively campaigning for political arrangements that would result in Muslims occupying all the highest four or five positions in the country.”
The statement added that: “The Vice President wishes to distance himself from the wrong and dangerous inferences drawn by the public from his remarks. While some are made innocently and without mischief, there are entities that have seized on the story to cause further chaos that transcends the realm of power politics. This weaponization of our divisions is why the Vice President appeals for inclusivity to prevent any agenda designed to undermine the new government and Nigeria as a whole.”