A former chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kassim Afegbua, has revealed those responsible for the outrage over the Muslim-Muslim ticket fielded by the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2023 presidential election.
In a statement on Sunday, Afegbua accused the opposition PDP and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) of being responsible for the controversies surrounding the APC ticket.
The former Edo Commissioner claimed that CAN is a body working for the PDP to continue to mount pressure on the Presidential candidate of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to drop former Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, as his running mate.
He alleged that CAN is being sponsored by the PDP to whip up undue sentiments against the candidature of Tinubu, his running mate and the ruling APC.
The statement read: “For the past few days, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has been upbeat over the choice of Senator Kashim Shettima, as the Vice Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
“Taking an interrogative assessment of their activities, one would think they are altruistic in their demand for the number 2 position, but the latest findings by me, have revealed that CAN is actually being sponsored by the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party -PDP- to whip up undue sentiments against the candidature of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his running mate, Kashim Shettima and indeed, the APC.
“It started from former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, who has never won in his polling unit, Hong Local Government, Adamawa State, to other CAN leaders, who have never deemed it fit to cede the presidency of the association to a core Northern Christian.
“In the over 46 years of CAN, the closest was Cardinal John Onaiyekan, from Kaba, in Kogi state, as president of CAN. All other Presidents have been of Southern extraction; yet, they desire to have a weak candidate from the North to strengthen PDP in the election.
“Let me state categorically and without any iota of doubt that CAN as a body is working for the Peoples’ Democratic Party.
“They are being sponsored to sustain a political awareness that cannot pass any true test of ecclesiastical emanation.
“The PDP had earlier set up a committee to sustain these sentiments in the realisation that it will weaken the APC and force it to rescind its well-thought-out decision to choose a Northern Muslim as the Party’s Vice Presidential Candidate.
“They are being funded covertly by PDP elements and my very reliable source confirmed a meeting held in Asokoro, at the home of a media mogul, a few days ago, where a decision was taken to sustain the umbrage. I will mention names very soon if they refuse to desist from such satanic plots, just to score cheap political points.
“It is one thing to be a Christian, and another, to be a member of CAN. In 2015, the Catholic body had accused the CAN under Pastor Oritsejafor, of politicising the body instead of concentrating on serious issues that could advance the collective aspirations of the people.
“The Catholic body had suspended its participation in CAN activities as a direct response to such politicisation. CAN has just entered another phase of such politicisation again by its standoffish posturing in the name of the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the APC.
“Bishop Matthew Kukah has given very informed perspectives on the Muslim-Muslim ticket, saying it only presents the voters with options and choices. Those who are fanning the embers of disunity and religious intolerance are located within the vineyard of the PDP.
“Rather than face their campaign with a candidate that is contesting against the run of play, they are already asking the APC candidate to withdraw from the race.
“The PDP chieftains were the ones who went to hire some persons, decorated them with robes to assume the role of Bishops and Reverend Fathers, just to embarrass the APC candidate; whom they dread so much. I have insiders in PDP who are giving me blow-by-blow accounts of what transpires.
“Please PDP, get serious and stop trivialising serious issues with mundane scripting of nebulous plots in the name of politics. PDP is very desperate to make inroads into political camps that would help it pursue its political aspirations.
“CAN is being sponsored by the PDP, and the PDP works for C.A.N. Rather than devote time, energy and attention to articulate solutions to our existential problems, CAN leaderships are busy raising dust where there is none.
“Our problem is not religion. Our emphasis should be how to find solutions to our problems and not dig into our religious differences.”