Vice President-elect Kashim Shettima Reveals Tinubu’s Reason for Choosing Akpabio as Senate President to Prevent “Negative Narrative of Islamization”
During a meeting with elected lawmakers, including Tajudeen Abbas, endorsed by Tinubu and the APC for House Speaker, Vice President-elect Kashim Shettima disclosed that Tinubu selected Godswill Akpabio as his preferred candidate for Senate President to avoid the perception of Islamization.
Shettima emphasized that Tinubu aimed to prevent a scenario where the President, Vice President, Senate President, and Speaker of the House of Representatives would all be Muslims.
Tinubu, Shettima, and Abbas are Muslims, while Akpabio is a Christian. As the faith composition of Tinubu and Shettima already resulted in a Muslim President and Vice President, many Nigerians have called for religious balance in selecting parliamentary leaders within the APC.
Tinubu and the APC designated Akpabio (South-south) and Barau Jibrin (North-west) as preferred Senate President and Deputy Senate President, respectively. They also chose Abbas (North-west) and Ben Kalu (South-east) as Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
However, this decision faced criticism from lawmakers and party members due to various concerns, including the exclusion of the North-central region.
Notably, three Senate President aspirants, Abdulaziz Yari (APC-Zamfara), Sani Musa (APC-Niger), and Orji Kalu (APC-Abia), have voiced their opposition to the arrangement.
In the House of Representatives, ranking APC lawmakers such as Deputy Speaker Idris Wase and House Leader Alhassan Doguwa rejected the zoning arrangement and vowed to pursue their ambitions for Speaker.
Mr. Shettima said, “What we are trying to avoid is a situation whereby the number one citizen, number two citizen, the number three citizen, and the number four citizen are all of the same faith. That will validate the negative narrative of the Islamization of Nigeria.
“That is why my principal, a fair-minded individual, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, insists the number three citizen must come from the South-south (Christian). The stability of the nation is more important than any other consideration. We are talking about inclusivity,” he said.
Vice President-elect Kashim Shettima did not address why other Christian-ranking senators within the APC, such as Kalu and Izunaso, were not considered for the position of Senate President. It is worth noting that Kalu and Izunaso hail from the South-east, where Tinubu received the fewest votes in the presidential election.
Shettima, a former governor of Borno, also did not comment on the ongoing corruption investigation involving Akpabio. The EFCC is probing Akpabio for alleged embezzlement of state funds during his tenure as Akwa Ibom governor. However, Kalu, another aspirant, had previously been prosecuted and convicted for misappropriating public funds during his time as Abia governor. The Supreme Court later ordered a retrial based on technicalities.
As a current senator, Shettima assured that he would intervene to prevent any potential rebellion by APC lawmakers leading up to the National Assembly’s inauguration on June 13.