From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Director-General of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Organisation and Plateau State Government, Simon Lalong, has declared that as a devout Catholic, the Pope has not told him that accepting to lead the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket was wrong.
He was reacting to a staged protest by a group, he described as faceless, asking him to reject the appointment as Director General of the Ahmed Tinubu/Kashim Shettima campaign organisation.
A group under the aegis of Concern Christians on the Plateau (CCP), had staged the rally in Abuja, threatening that Plateau Christians will not support Lalong in ‘the suspicious engagement or assignment.’
The group said it was completely out of place for the same APC that rejected Lalong as Vice-Presidential candidate allegedly based on incompetence, to appoint him as campaign DG in order to seek Christian votes.
But the governor urged Nigerians to grow above ethnic or religious sentiments, saying he has accepted the job and there was nothing anybody could do to dissuade him from discharging the office.
He said being an ardent member of the Catholic faith, baptized and confirmed, and with the highest award from the papacy, Knight of Saint Gregory the Great, the Pope has not told him that it was wrong for him to be the DG of a Muslim-Muslim presidential campaign team.
“As a Catholic, everything we do, we send the advice to the Pope. The Pope has not told me that what I’m doing is bad to accept the Director-General. As a Catholic, we take that direction,” Lalong said.
The governor, met with President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, to thank him for approving University of Jos as a national cancer centre,
He told State House Correspondents that the Pleateau State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) came to the Yakubu Gowon Airport, Jos to welcome him after his appointment as the APC presidential campaign DG.
Lalong explained that the appointment was strictly a party affair and had nothing to do with religion.
He denied the allegation that he lobbied to become the running mate of the APC presidential candidate.
He said: “Some people said because I was denied VP. I did not lobby for VP. Yes, many people were lobbying and writing on my behalf, but what I have always wanted to be and obtained form for is Senate. I have a senatorial ticket that I am waiting for. So if at any time some people who wanted to be VP lost out and they’re using religion, they should not use me to help them. We are already far, we’re talking about the leadership. We’re talking about addressing the problems of Nigeria, and all we’re talking about is good leadership that can come from any region.”
The Governor who was at the State House to thank President Buhari for some landmark projects in Plateau said the state will return the favour with votes for Tinubu, in next year’s presidential elections.
According to him, the Christian Association of Nigeria, Plateau State Chapter is in full support of his appointment and welcomed him back to the state.