Nigerian Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fasholadeclared his support for choosing his former principal as his running mate ahead of the 2023 election.
Mr Fashola, in an interview broadcast on Channels Television on Sunday, endorsed the choice of Kashim Shettima as the running mate of All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Bola Tinubu.
MM. Tinubu and Shettima are Muslims and their candidacy has been criticized by many Nigerians and groups including the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
Of all the 18 parties that will contest the 2023 presidential election, the ruling APC is the only party with a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket.
Mr Tinubu, the former Governor of Lagos, however, defended his choice, saying Mr Shettima, a former Governor of Borno, was chosen on the basis of his competence.
Speaking on Sunday, Mr Fashola said religion should be put aside for competence when Nigerians elect their next group of leaders in 2023.
He argued that those leading the debate against Mr. Tinubu’s candidacy should face the real political and socio-economic issues and avoid religious sentiments.
“In my opinion, Asiwaju is the best person to drive this vehicle because I have worked with him closely and I know his abilities. I know his tenacity. And I sometimes think that we have to test certain hypotheses and the opportunity to test that assumption is there,” said Mr. Fashola, who served as Mr. Tinubu’s chief of staff when the latter was governor.
“My position on religion has been broadcast on different platforms. I believe religion should leave the public space and return to where it belongs – in homes and religious centers.
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“There is too much religion in our public life and there is no nation that I know of that values religion. It’s a private thing. I think we should just stop them. When you are in the office, just go and do your job,” the minister said.
He argued that winning elections is about numbers and some decisions can seem irrational. He said Mr Tinubu made his calculations based on what he thought would favor him in the next poll.
“Sometimes we should stop being afraid of fear itself. If it’s something that’s real, the votes will eventually show it. Who really cares? We both drank water here and didn’t ask who was making the water. People want good schools, good health care. People want infrastructure. They want to be secure.
“If you go both ways, there was a Christian vice president under a Muslim president. Unfortunately, people were killed in the church. Priests were murdered the same way Muslims were murdered. Neither the President nor the Vice President likes these things to happen. Me no, you no but it has very little to do with our faith,” Mr Fashola said.
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