Presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu met with some Christian clerics under the aegis of the Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria.

At the meeting, Tinubu disclosed that his choice of a former governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima was not a threat to the Christian community.

He added that his decision was based on competence and not religious considerations, adding that only competence can resolve the political and socio-economic challenges bedevilling the nation.

The APC presidential candidate said he has always been a friend of the Christian community and he should be considered based on his track records, plans and agenda for developing Nigeria.

“How will Nigeria develop? How do we banish hunger? How do we improve the insecurity and how do we eliminate killing one another, and shedding of blood of innocent citizens, that is what we must take to the office and not our religion.

“My intention is clear, not religiosity. My intention is to develop this country, to bring prosperity to our country and I have a better qualification, better track records, better exposure, and better vision than any of my mates.

“When the shortlisted names came, I looked at the characters on the list, their background and everything and here is somebody (Kassim Shetimma) who is so brilliant, so committed, who, during the crisis in Borno protected Christians,” he said.

The bishops, however, said the meeting is not an affirmation they’ll endorse APC’s candidate.

Chairman of Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria, Archbishop John Praise, said, “We are not committed to endorsing anybody, but you should ask your conscience and from what you have heard and from the explanation, he (Tinubu) had given to us to make your own judgement of who will better rule and handle the country.”

However, The closed-door meeting between the Presidential Candidate of All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and the Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria in Abuja came under scrutiny on Thursday night.

The social media pages of the former governor of Lagos State were bombarded with mixed reactions from a cross-section of Nigerians, especially on Facebook and Twitter, hours after exclusive photographs of his rendezvous with the northern clerics in his Abuja campaign office hit the internet.

The development is coming barely three months after the Christian Association of Nigeria dissociated itself from the presence of some alleged bishops and pastors at the unveiling of the vice presidential candidate of the party, Kashim Shettima, saying they were desperados who went there for themselves.

CAN stated that although Tinubu was free to “hire mechanics and other artisans and sew clerical garments for them”, the effort would only add to their many ropes but would not change the need for fairness and justice.

Similarly, on Tuesday, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, made renewed threats to mobilise the northern Christian electorate to vote against Tinubu in the February 25, 2023 poll.

Dogara had predicted that adopting a Muslim-Muslim ticket was a fruitless political effort that was “doomed to end in spectacular failure.”

The ex-speaker made the statement while delivering his keynote address at a summit tagged ‘Meet The Church,’ organised by the Nigeria National Christian Coalition.

Lawal, on the other hand, vowed that the introduction of a same-faith ticket by the APC was a deliberate plan to further create divisions in the north.

The disgruntled former SGF, who spoke during an interview on Arise Television, declared that he was working with about 40 Christian leaders in the north to ensure that the contentious APC ticket failed.

But in Thursday’s meeting, the APC national leader reportedly explained to the PBFNS delegation led by Archbishop John Praise of Dominion Chapel International Church his reason for selecting Shettima to the northern Christian bishops.

Tinubu stated that his selection of Shettima was not a deliberate attempt to spite the Christian community but a choice he had to make to give Nigerians good governance if he got elected.

He stated, “Earlier today at a lively, productive and amiable meeting with a delegation representing the Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria, we discussed important issues of national significance as well as my determination to deliver unity, harmony and lasting peace to Nigeria.”

The reactions to his social media posts were instantaneous. While some of his followers and party supporters hailed his action, critics trolled and lampooned him for attempting to pull another stunt on the Christian community.

Culled/Titilayo Kupoliyi

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