The President of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Archbishop Lucius Ugorji has expressed disappointment on the choice of a Muslim as running mate of Sen. Bola Tinubu of All Progressives Congress, APC, for the 2023 polls.
In an interview on Tuesday, July 12 in Owerri, Archbishop Ugorji, who is also the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province strongly opposed the choice of former governor of Borno State, Kassim Shettima as running mate to the APC presidential flagbearer.
The prelate spoke shortly after the burial of Rev. Fr. Kelechi Kenneth Nzewuji at Maria Assumpta Cathedral, Owerri.
He expressed concern that a party could choose a Muslim-Muslim ticket in a nation constitutionally recognized as a secular state in which Christians constitute at least 50 percent of the population.
Ugorji said, “In the past, we had a case of Muslim-Muslim ticket during the time of Moshood Kashimawo Abiola and Babagana Kingibe. People did not complain. We have a different context presently where the administration of Buhari has made religion and region a policy in his appointments, appointing people from one region and one religion. So, he has more or less fanned the flame of this issue of the sensibilities of people regarding ethnicity, regarding religion.”
The cleric added, “So, people are afraid because of a policy of exclusion that has excluded Christians in most of the major appointments. If after a president who was Muslim for eight consecutive years, then to be followed with another president who is not only a Muslim, he is going to have a vice who is also a Muslim. People are afraid.
“It is more or less heightening tension within the country. So, anybody who has the good of this country in mind, would not go for such at this time.”
Ugorji was inaugurated as the new Archbishop of Owerri Metropolitan on Thursday 23 June, 2022.
Recall that the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Abubakar Atiku had in statement issued shortly after Shettima’s emergence said, “while our opponents might think that there is an easy road to victory in divisive politics, we must get the message across to them that Nigeria has seen the worst shades of exclusionist politics and the road ahead is the path of inclusive and unifying politics. That is what we stand for”.
Atiku’s counterpart in New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso also said in a statement, “my only worry is the platform, APC. This platform, I don’t know”.
Those who have resigned from the APC in protest of Shettima’s emergence include Daniel Bwala, Special Adviser to Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege on Legal Matters.
Bwala in a tweet stated, “Tonight, I officially resigned my membership of APC on principles and conviction that I hold so dear. At this time of our national existence, our efforts and energy should gravitate towards uniting our people”.
Also Sen. Elisha Ishaku Abbo who represents Adamawa North Senatorial District in Atiku’s home state, Adamawa has resigned from Tinubu Support Group.
According to Abbo, “It is very irresponsible of Tinubu to take his political survival over the stability and peace of Nigeria”.
Abbo added, “For Tinubu now to be given the ticket and turn around to do what he could not achieve in 2015 despite opposition from Catholics and other Christian leaders, is extremely irresponsible.”
Tinubu’s counterpart in Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi, would rather not be concerned with the internal affairs of another party concerning choice of running mate.
He said he would rather be concerned with his party’s mantra of “moving Nigeria from consumption to production”.