From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
Over 200 youths and APC supporters from the north-central zone, Friday, held a peaceful protest demanding Senator Kassim Shettima’s removal as the party’s vice-Presidential candidate.
The group, on the platform of North Central Progressives Youth (NCPY), urged the President Muhammadu Buhari to interfere and replace Shettima with a Christian for the good of the party and Nigeria.
The rally, which commenced at the Unity Fountain and culminated at the Presidential Villa.
The youths from the six North-Central states and the Federal Capital Territory chanted solidarity songs while holding banners with inscriptions such as, ‘APC presidential ticket must be for all faiths’, ‘Shettima must go now’, ‘All Christians say no to Islamisation of the APC presidential ticket’, ‘Tinubu and Shettima must do the needful, it is our constitutional right’, ‘Don’t destroy the unity of Nigeria’, among others..
In his address, the group’s president, Comrade Musa Attah, said President Buhari has etched his name in history due to achievements in infrastructure, anti-corruption and good governance.
Attah, however, said the president must protect his legacies by working towards a worthy successor that can consolidate his gains.
“Mr President, on numerous occasions you have promised to bequeath a democratic system imbued with workable institutional structures that will stand the test of time. True to your word, the nation’s electoral system has been revolutionized,” he said.
“Mr President, your footprints will never be forgotten in the area of infrastructure. The fact that there’s still a country called Nigeria is due to your resilience despite the mirage of security challenges. We are also coping with the global economic crisis. Meanwhile, the trial of the suspended Accountant-General of the Federation and many others have proven your zero tolerance for corruption. There are no sacred cows.
“Yet your biggest legacy will be your successor. Whoever takes over from you will either consolidate on some of these gains achieved in the last seven years or dissuade them all. As a progressive nation, we wouldn’t want the latter. And that is why we are beckoning on you to call the ruling All Progressives Congress to order as regards its presidential candidates”.
Describing the party’s presidential flag bearer, Bola Tinubu, as a “man loved and adored by Nigerians”, Attah added that the former Lagos governor has demonstrated capacity over the years and is primed to build on Buhari’s legacies.
But according to the youth leader, the only obstacle is Senator Shettima – who is of the same faith as the presidential candidate.
He said, “Tinubu’s alliance with Shettima may just be his undoing. In the face of unprecedented disunity, the same faith ticket is a disregard for the country’s fragility and would further polarize the nation. Sections 14 and 15 of the Constitution talk about Federal Character. The question is does the choice of a Muslim-Muslim ticket fit into that Federal Character? As they say in law, you can’t come to equity without clean hands. He who wants equity must do equity. Is there equity in that Muslim-Muslim choice?
“The rejection of the same faith ticket should not be seen as Christian objection but a protest by every Nigerian in favour of democracy which guarantees freedom of choice, freedom of expression, and freedom of worship. Nigeria is a secular state. Our forefathers were aware of this even before they designed the Constitution. And in making these choices, we must be sensitive to the sensibilities of the people. It shouldn’t be lorded over the people, to whom the power belongs.
“A Muslim-Muslim presidency would mean a sectional national ideology to replace the liberty upon which Nigeria was established as a country. With Shettima, the APC is implying that Christians in the North are of no consequence in the scheme of things. We have a huge Christian population in the North-East and North-West. In the northcentral, the Christians are dominant. This is why Shettima must vacate this position.”
The group, therefore, urged President Buhari to look beyond the surface and replace Shettima with a Christian.
According to Attah, only this can protect Mr President’s legacies with Tinubu as successor.