The Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has said he will not run his presidency on a religious bias.
Tinubu made the statement at a meeting with the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Wednesday, in Abuja.
He recalled that since his administration as Lagos State Governor did not discriminate against anyone based on tribe, religion or gender, he would not start such in office as a president.
During the meeting, the CAN leadership under its new president Daniel Ukoh presented a charter of demands and issues to the APC presidential candidate.
It added that some of the demands included: the creation of state police or a decentralised policing system, devolution of power to states and equal rights for all religions and their adherents.
Others, it added were right to self-determination by all ethnic groups, right to control natural resources by communities that bear them, saying no to open grazing and an equitable electoral system among others.
Tinubu stated that his belief in the need for secular government and faith-based organisations to work in unity was not something adopted recently to benefit his campaign.
He said as governor of Lagos, he partnered with Christians to improve lives and foster education and returned mission schools to their owners, most of whom were Christians.
“I instituted yearly Christian Denomination Service at the Governor’s residence as we approached the new year, this tradition continues in Lagos.
“More importantly, we fostered an atmosphere of religious tolerance and inter-faith collaboration, my cabinet was diverse and talented.
“In the exercise of government, I did not give a thought to whether a team member was Christian or Muslim, Yoruba, Igbo or Arewa. I have never lent myself to baseless prejudice and discrimination.
“To do so would be a recipe for failure in the governance of a diverse society and I am not a man that is familiar with failing,” the statement further quoted Tinubu as saying.
He added that he never chased people out of Lagos nor made them feel unwanted, saying that under his administration, Lagos welcomed all comers and continued to do so today.
He added that he saw Nigerians as equal and as brothers and sisters in our national family.
This, he said, meant that no one was inherently inferior or superior to anyone else, regardless of faith, place of origin, social status and gender.
He said anyone who does not hold this fair and equitable view, should not run for president in a country such as Nigeria.
Tinubu said the Christian body has a great role as the moral compass of society which he cherishes and would always support.
“You, as an organisation and as individual leaders of CAN, are entrusted as the watch person of the welfare of this society from a Christian perspective.
“Which means functioning in an atmosphere of charity, understanding, patience and wisdom.
” I understand the tremendous importance of your work and have nothing but the deepest respect for your selfless contributions to our national cause,” Tinubu said.
On his choice of Sen. Kashim Shettima as running mate, which had generated lots of controversies, Tinubu assured the CAN that he made the best available choice at his disposal without recourse to religious sentiments.
“I did not choose Shettima so that we could form a same-faith ticket. The ticket was constructed as a progressive and people-based ideology ticket.
“I selected Sen. Shettima thinking more about who would best help me govern, picking a Christian running mate would have been politically easier.
“But the easy way is rarely the right one, the selection of a running mate is at once a very momentous yet very intimate decision.
“Resting such a key decision on religious affiliation as the primary weight did not sit well with me. I am not saying there were no good and adequate potential running mates of the Christian faith,” Tinubu said.
He added that Shettima’s faith was immaterial, saying that he is a brilliant man with superior intellectual capacity.
He further said that Shettima is studious and detailed oriented and enjoys excellent organisation skills and fully understands the vital difference between governance and politics.
“This exceptionally gifted human being has the humility of spirit, the courage of his convictions and a strongly progressive worldview in harmony.
“I trust the calibre of the man. I know the great lengths he went to in fighting Boko Haram in his state. He did his best to protect the Christian community and rebuilt damaged churches.
“This man understands the value of our national diversity in all of its ramifications, including religious, he possesses the courage to stand up to those who would wreck that diversity and freedom,” Tinubu explained.
According to the statement, Tinubu was accompanied to the meeting by his wife, Sen. Oluremi, Sen. Shettima, House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, some APC governors and senators.