The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has saluted Kashim Shettima, the running mate to the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress, Bola Tinubu, following his unveiling.
According to a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President spoke when he received Shettima at the Presidential Villa hours after he was unveiled by the leadership of the party as Tinubu’s running mate.
The statement is titled ‘President Buhari to Kashim Shettima: I will respond to you when I am handing over to you and your boss.’
Reacting humorously to a flowery speech by the new VP candidate, the President said “I will respond to your speech when I am handing over to you and your boss. God willing, you are going to win.”
“I wish you the best. Your consistency in the party is very respectful. You served your two terms as Governor and finished well. You have kept touch with your base. At every important occasion or event, you are maintaining support for the one who succeeded you. This is commendable,” Buhari added.
In his remarks, the vice presidential candidate thanked the President for his “empathy, support and positive role,” leading to his emergence as running mate to the APC presidential candidate.
He praised the President for having “a special place in your heart for Borno and North-East,” adding, “I can cite 20-30 instances of support you have rendered, for which you will be remembered.”
Citing the establishment of the North-East Development Commission, and the Independent Power Plant for Maiduguri by the NNPC, Shettima said “after many years of darkness, words cannot describe our appreciation of your support. We will remain eternally grateful.”
The former Governor of Borno State also requested the President to appreciate his successor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, who was in his company, along with the Minister of State, Agriculture, Mustapha Shehuri, for spurning “recurring mention” of him and pressure from his Governor colleagues to bid for the vice presidential ticket.
He promised that his vice presidency would not be for the “troika of Hausa, Fulani and Kanuri,” but for all Nigeria, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or geographical place of origin.
Speaking shortly after the visit, Shettima told journalists that he “felt morally bound” to thank the president personally, before returning with a larger delegation on Friday.
Reacting to agitations over the Muslim-Muslim ticket floated by his party, he said the APC ticket is not designed to protect the interests of one faith as there are religious leaders to do that.
“In Borno, we spent over N1bn naira rebuilding churches destroyed by the Boko Haram insurgency. And this legacy has been continued by Governor Babagana Zulum. We have taken more Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem than some of the Northern states headed by Christians.
“So, we have that history of inclusivity, of togetherness. What we need is competent leadership. We are not coming into government to represent the Muslim or the Christian faith. The Sultan of Sokoto is eminently qualified to protect Muslim interests and the CAN president is eminently qualified to defend Christian interests as well,” he said.