The Director-General (DG) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Organisation, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, has said that the Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis, was not opposed to him serving as Director General of APC’s presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Lalong said he remains a staunch Catholic despite his decision to accept to lead the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket campaign of the APC.
The governor had been attacked by many groups opposed to the Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Some even “disowned” him on the grounds that he ought to have joined the league of those calling for a Muslim-Christian ticket in APC.
But Lalong said on Wednesday that he was unperturbed.
Tinubu had since picked a former governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima as his running mate.
Lalong said that as a born, baptised and confirmed Catholic, who has 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 lead the Muslim-Muslim presidential campaign team.
He said; “As a Catholic, everything we do, we send the advice to the Pope. The Pope has not told me that what I am doing is bad to accept the director general (offer). As a Catholic, we take that direction,” he said.
‘CAN endorsed my appointment’
Lalong said the Plateau 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.
He, therefore, said that he was not sure where those who claimed to be Christians but opposed his appointment as against their faith were coming from.
Recall that three Christian groups in Plateau State had disowned Lalong for accepting his nomination as APC campaign DG.
The groups, under the aegis of the Concerned Christians on the Plateau, consist of the executive, women and youth wings of CAN.
The governor, who flayed some Christian leaders asking him to reject the appointment because of the condemnations that trailed the APC Muslim -Muslim ticket, said the selection was strictly a party affair and had nothing to do with religion.
Lalong, who said he respects his faith as a Christian, stated that he was elected governor for people of all faiths and non-believers as well.
He added that since politics is about interest, he is a member of the APC and will not engage in anti-party activities.
Lalong said that he was at the Presidential Villa to thank the president for approving numerous infrastructural projects and for granting presidential pardon to the former governor of the state, Senator Joshua Dariye as well as a former governor of Taraba State, Rev. Jolly Nyame.
He said; “The president is chairman of the campaign Council. Therefore, as DG, I will come regularly to brief him on certain things that we are planning.”
Writing on the back and forth on the emergence of a Muslim-Muslim ticket, Professor Usman Yusuf said it was about political interest and nothing more.
“Although a presidential candidate emerges through a party’s primary election, choosing the vice presidential candidate is the prerogative of the winner of that ticket, not the party’s.
“So, if anyone has any problem with APC’s vice presidential choice and the bogus, almost insulting reason given for that choice, you know who to blame instead of vilifying your favourite scapegoats; the Hausa-Fulani, Muslims and Islam. Doing so as is being done by the leaders of the “APC Northern Christians” group is uncharitable and a big political miscalculation.”
According to the professor of haematology-oncology and bone marrow transplantation, “I am yet to meet or hear of a northern Muslim, Muslim cleric or traditional ruler that is celebrating the fact that both the presidential and vice presidential candidates of the ruling APC party are Muslims. One thing I know for sure is that no Northern Muslim presidential candidate of any political party would even contemplate attempting this lopsided ticket.”
The professor said beyond mundane persuasions, “This time more than ever before, Nigeria needs a leader who is physically and mentally healthy, someone with integrity, vision and boldness. One that can assemble a competent team, listen to wise counsel and govern with a milk of human kindness. Above all, we need a leader that can heal our wounds and reunite the country.”