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Elections are not Magic Shows

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SENATOR KASHIM SHETTIMA

 

 

Being an acceptance speech on being chosen as the running mate of the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for the 2023 Presidential Elections in Abuja, Nigeria, on July 20, 2022.

 

 

My first duty, is to first of all acknowledge the position that His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari occupies, in the remarkable history of our great party, the APC; as well as the role he has played, in the history of our dear country, Nigeria.

 

Secondly, I must also firmly underscore the remarkable political journey of our leader, His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. His incredible vision and strength of character, have helped us to the point where our party evolved to, as the giant of the Nigerian political scene.

 

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, we are lucky indeed, to be standing on the shoulders of these two remarkable political titans.

 

There’s no weight I carry very carefully, as much as the burden of trust, and learning from public servants, who never take the expectations of the public, for granted. I’m standing here today because of the benign testaments of those who believe in me—those who crawled so that some of us could walk, and those who walked, for others to run.

 

The successes of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the past two presidential elections, were not magic shows. They were rewards for our foresighted, and pragmatic decisions, to sacrifice our personal interests and sectional sentiments, for the overriding prospects of our Great Party. We are again on the cusp of history, and left with no option, other than collaborating assiduously again,  to pursue the collective interest of APC’s stakeholders, across ethnic, religious, and regional stations.

 

Having led us through two successful elections, and resisted the bait to impose a successor, President Muhammadu Buhari remains the man of the season; a leader who must be remembered, for passing the torch to the choice of the party’s majority, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. My emergence as the running mate of the inimitable Jagaban Borgu, is based on the party’s very forthright assessment of the threats ahead;  and I’m most honoured by the consensus of the distinguished stakeholders of our party, to trust me, with representing the nation’s interests, under the leadership of the very sage, the youths all over our country, fondly refer to as “City Boy”, in honour of his cosmopolitan profile.

 

Our public-spirited Progressive Governors, have also demonstrated why they are the backbone of the party. There can’t be enough words to quantify their sacrifices; we acknowledge the fact, that they are responsible for this spectacular structure, that offers us a palpable electoral advantage, over our opponents. Whatever supremacy we attribute to the APC, is owed to the commitment of our Progressive Governors. Like most of us, they submitted to the supreme interests of the Party, to guarantee our success in the forthcoming elections, and the immensity of these sacrifices, calibrates their wisdom and sensitivity, to the myriad of opponents we are going to face, in 2023. I’m here today, because of their wisdom; and I’m therefore grateful, for their perception of the task ahead, as one that can only be executed, through meticulous collaboration, across board.

 

Today, I must also testify to the cyclical nature of history. But, like those before us, we must resist the temptation to throw a feast, over an invitation to serve the people. We must always take the past as our finest teacher, one never to be taken for granted. This would guide our staring into tomorrow. I’m not unaware of the difficult political arithmetic that produced this moment, especially the understanding of our great Party’s stakeholders and supporters, across religions, regions, and ethnicities. Their resolve to settle for this ticket, is a testament to the faith they have in us.

 

This ticket isn’t an imposition; it’s an outcome of democracy at its practical best, and based on the aggregation of the ideas and insights, of our great party’s stakeholders. If this were an unpopular option, as the cast of partisan provocateurs has attempted to paint, there wouldn’t have been the tonnes of goodwill messages, especially from distinguished Christians, from all over the country. This ticket is a Nigerian project, not a sectional agenda, that the frightened camps have been struggling to sensationalize.

 

I’m sincerely proud of the rational citizens, who view this, as nothing but a pragmatic permutation, to defeat our opponents at the polls, and based on acknowledgment and implementation of the candid perspectives of our Christian brothers and sisters in the APC, who, like us, are bound by the passion for us to retain power, in order to deepen the delivery of unifying and transformative governance, to Nigerians.

 

About thirty years ago, Nigerians from both sides of the Niger, came together to market the ideals of a ticket like ours. They overlooked the pedestrian attempts to politicize the religious affiliations of the presidential candidate and running mate, and yielded to the message of hope; and the manifesto of prosperity promised them. The MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe ticket, defied the stereotype of Nigerians, as hopelessly sectional, and incapable of prioritizing reason over sentiments. That ticket, even though it was opposed by the same agents that doubted its success, has remained the best moment, of our various experiments with democracy, so far.

 

This reincarnation of the 30-year-old hope that produced the late MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe, came at a time the country is being pushed to the edge of anarchy, by conflict entrepreneurs, in gaudy suits and babanriga. But the overwhelming endorsement of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, at the APC presidential primaries, by aspirants from the very groups predicted to reject him; and his subsequent election by delegates from the same groups, is a clear message, that Nigerians are beyond the stereotypes of those desperate to tear the people apart.

 

The goodwill messages that have poured in, since the announcement of my selection, as running mate, to the high-performing Jagaban Borgu, easily underscore the depth of hope that our people are investing, in the ticket.  And I do not doubt that the amplitude of this love, across the country,  from Abia through to Zamfara, is an assurance that Nigerians are again prepared to choose the competence of their unifying representatives,  over any expression of  primordial sentiments.

 

We all witnessed the decisive blows dealt the bigotry dispensed by a hopeless minority, ahead of the APC presidential primaries, last June. The futility of their propaganda, showed that Nigerians aren’t the unthinking robots some are quick to call them. Nigerians are rational beings,  with the capability to tell an invidious agenda apart, from sincere concern for them. They are not the uncritical consumers of clickbait and falsehoods, as some of us think they are. They see through the bigots, masquerading as patriots and, very importantly, they know those who represent their interests, even in the quietest and darkest of meeting rooms.

 

I’m immensely grateful to our great Party, the All Progressives Congress, and it’s perceptive stakeholders who consulted widely, in the painstaking bid, to choose Asiwaju’s running mate, for the 2023 elections. I’m grateful for this opportunity to be a part of this history, to deliver Nigeria to a future defined by fast-evolving technologies, that will  propel us towards guaranteed national security, economic boom, youth engagement,  mass employment, high-quality education, and, of course, uncompromising national cohesion.

 

I want to assure our teeming supporters that, in the coming days, we will be rolling out our plans for a greater Nigeria, and pointing towards the bright  future that we envisage; and away from the destination of those with nothing, but mudslinging to market, as the reason they deserve to be elected. Such hollow strategies shouldn’t be the ideals of a nation, yearning for an experienced and documented visionary, like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, at the wheels.

 

We will work with commitment for all Nigerians, especially the youths, who represent the overwhelming majority of our population today. They represent our present and future. We give a firm assurance, that no discrimination of any form will arise,  from this patriotic alliance for the deepening of Nigeria’s democracy.

 

Thank you very much for your attention.

 

 

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