The Presidency on Monday made clarification on Vice-President Kashim Shettima’s remarks on support for southern Senate President.
Mr Olusola Abiola, Director of Information, Office of the Vice-President, stated in Abuja that the vice-president’s remarks were taken out context.
The vice-president met with senators campaigning for the emergence of Sen. Godswill Akpabio and Sen. Barau Jibrin to lead the 10th Senate on Sunday.
Shettima said at the interactive session that the nation’s current political structure demanded the emergence of a southern Christian and a northern Muslim as the fairest balance to promote inclusivity at the centre.
“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.
“President Bola Tinubu has wholeheartedly reassured the country of his dedication to providing every group with equal representation, which has resonated with the vice-president who shares the same commitment to this honourable endeavour.
“Unfortunately, the vice-president’s remarks have been stripped of context and mischievously circulated as an attempt to minimise 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,’’ Abiola stated.
He stressed that what Shettima advocated was the choice of a non-Muslim contestant, even if it was against a more qualified Muslim option, to achieve balance, since the president and the vice-president are Muslims.
Abiola added that it was alarming that such unambiguous plea was unfairly misconstrued to imply that the vice-president said the most incompetent Christian candidate was superior to a Muslim candidate.
“The vice-president’s position reflects the stance of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“APC assigned the leadership of the House of Representatives to the Northwest and designated the position of Deputy Senate President to the same region.
“At the time the vice-president made his remarks, three contenders for the Speakership race had withdrawn their candidacy to support the candidate from the Northwest.
“This 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.
“It will be illogical for the vice-president, a Muslim to second-guess the competence of fellow Muslims in a nation headed by a Muslim president.
“The president has demonstrated unmatched leadership qualities on the strength of which he and his deputy were elected in February,’’ he stated.
Abiola added that the vice-president wished to distance himself from the wrong and dangerous inferences drawn by a section of the public on his remarks.
He noted that while some inferences were made innocently and without mischief, there were entities that had seized on the story to cause further chaos that transcended the realm of power politics.
“Before the media interface, the vice-president was aware that some entities and individuals were covertly pushing for Muslim leadership of the National Assembly to use the instance to legitimise their grievances against the Nigerian state.
“They were doing this to prove to their communities that they had been marginalised and must rise to cause chaos.
“This is a paradoxical situation where lawmakers who opposed a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket are actively campaigning for political arrangements that would result in Muslims occupying the topmost four or five positions in the country.
“The covert intent of their actions is evident to astute observers of our politics.
“This is the dimension to which our politics have descended; a dimension that does not align with President Tinubu’s and the APC’s vision of a Nigeria for all.
“It is the vision and promise that propelled this government to power even when some interest groups attempted to mischaracterise the APC ticket,’’ Abiola stated.
He added that senators who met with the vice-president were known as the Stability Group, a group of 77 patriots who had signed up for the Akpabio/Barau ticket.
Senators in the Stability Group believe the pair would represent the interests of the nation and the party, he stated.
According to Abiola, the group is neither ethnic nor religious, but a collection of well-intentioned senators with a convincing solution to Nigeria’s stability dilemma, as its name implies.
“The vice-president remains grateful to media outlets that have seen through the mischaracterisation and have been able to provide context for those who missed it.
“We are at a critical point in our nation and cannot afford to lose our focus because of mischief-makers obsessed with starting a fire where there is none.
“Shettima remains grateful to those who have read beyond newspaper click bait and those who have given him the benefit of the doubt and remain allies for the betterment of Nigeria,’’ Abiola stressed. (NAN)