The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has announced Plateau Governor Simon Lalong as Director General of its presidential campaign Organisation.
Its National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, made the disclosure to State House Correspondents, after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
He was accompanied by the party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and Senators Kashim Shettima, respectively.
Adamu, who said the party and the President were on the same page over the choices of members of the campaign organisation, also assured that many of the issues raising public concerns about the party, especially the same faith candidature, would be amicably and satisfactorily sorted out ahead of next year’s elections.
“We’re on the same page with Mr. President regarding our organogram and the individuals that are going to play different roles within the organizational structure of the campaign outfits.
“The person who is going to be the Director General of the APC Presidential Campaign Organization is His Excellency, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, he will lead campaign.
“We have an interim spokesperson of the campaign organization, in the person of Honourable Festus Keyamo. Deputy spokesperson will be Barrister Hannatu Musawa and we’re hoping and praying for your maximum cooperation in presenting us the best way possible,” he said.
Speaking on the so-much-talked-about Muslim/Muslim ticket of the party, Adamu described it as a positive development in the history of politics, assuring that the current issues being raised about it would be sorted out ahead of the 2023 elections.
Responding to questions from correspondents on the issue, the APC Chairman said despite the concerns raised, there are those who see a same-faith ticket as a positive development for the country’s politics.
“Yes, we have been hearing concerns being expressed. In the APC, we believe very strongly, that no matter what description, no matter what faith you will associate with any one of our candidates, we are first and foremost Nigerians.
“There is no doubt in the fact that we have people whose stock in trade on some of these religious issues. Just like you have people expressing fears, or concerns about a Muslim-Muslim ticket, there are Christians that welcome it as a positive development, in Nigerian politics. They are Nigerians,” he said.
He, however, disclosed that the party recognised the concerns and will “put them to rest” before the election which is seven months away.
“We are extremely sensitive to some of these sensitivities of fellow Nigerians or fellow members of our party, but the fact of the matter is, one issue does not determine a candidate or determine victory.
“The party has taken a very careful deep look at the Nigerian situation and the political space and we believe very strongly that notwithstanding the expression that we’re hearing, we will be working on amicable solutions to the sentiment and we’re very sure by the grace of God we’ll put them to rest before the elections,” he said.
Speaking on the constitution of the party’s presidential campaign organisation, Adamu said APC arrived at the choice of Lalong, purely on reasons of ability.
Shettima described the preoccupation of some people with the arguments on his party’s same-faith ticket as a distraction from the real issues facing the country.
He pointed out he and Tinubu have track records that Nigerians ought to be considered ahead of religion.
Shettima urged Nigerians to focus on issues and not the faith of the candidates.
According to him: “In 2011, the presidential candidate and the vice-presidential candidate of the ACN. Both of them were Muslims. Nobody raised an eyebrow. Now, the opposition have seen a winning combination and they are petrified, deep down to the marrow of their bones.
“What Nigeria needs right now is a leadership that will drive the transformation process. Sadly a section of the press is being used as conveyor belt for spreading lies and mischief, … on blackmail, or concoctions or exaggerated facts.
“Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has a track record of excellence. If you keep on stopping to throw stones at every dog that barks you, you will not reach your destination. We’re not trading insults and lies and mischief, we have established track records of excellence. Let our opponents show what they have done in their respective states.
“I brought forward Professor Professor Babagana Zulum and I have ten others lined up. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s discuss issues, how to propel this nation to greatness is much more important than playing on the sentiments of Nigerians.
“Poverty knows no religion or ethnicity, insecurity knows no religion or ethnicity. I’m appealing to you and besieging on you, the he members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm to take the path of moderation and inclusivity and fairness”, he said.
Lalong argued that the party picked him because of his ability and not he is a Christian.
“I’m not a Christian candidate. I was not nominated as a Christian candidate. The party said I’ve been nominated because of my ability. I’ve been a very loyal member of the party. I joined APC because I believe in APC.
“Second, I’m not only the Governor of Plateau, I’m chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum. So I am able to carry out leadership in any capacity. I only want to express to you that I am surprised that I’m being announced now. I am sure we’ll not disappoint you.”