The Spokesperson for the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo, has warned the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and the Christian Association of Nigeria to stop interfering in the affairs of the ruling party.
Keyamo also said that the two focal Christian groups are not members of the APC and therefore can’t decide the running mate of the party’s presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu.
“Is PFN members of APC? Or CAN, are they members of APC? Picking a vice-presidential candidate of our party is an internal party decision. So, these external bodies are part of our party. If they wanted to take part in the decision process, they can as well come and join the political party but they cannot stay outside and dictate to us,” he said on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics programme last night.
CAN and PFN had fiercely criticised the APC over the choice of a former governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, as Tinubu’s running mate for the 2023 presidential election.
The religious bodies had demanded that the ruling party jettisoned the idea of a Muslim-Muslim ticket and select a Christian running mate alongside Tinubu, who identifies as a Muslim.
Some members of the Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria on Friday met with Tinubu in what appeared to be a tacit support for the APC presidential candidate amid the same faith controversy but the PFN disowned the Forum.
Speaking on Sunday Politics last night, Keyamo said the PFN AND CAN have options and should not be fixated with the APC.
“The PFN are not members of our party. They should go and vote that day.
“They should not be coming to question the decision of our party publicly. The purpose of pastors or their duty is to lead people to heaven not to lead people to (presidential) villa,” Keyamo said
“Religion does not matter in the north, they just want to vote for who they want to vote for,” he noted.
On the recent 422-man presidential campaign council list released by the APC, Keyamo said, “We have northern Christians who are passionate about our party who are actually supporting the party, who are part of the campaign council as I speak.”
However, the list which has former ministers, serving governors, and some other heavyweights did not include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; former Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, amongst others.
Osinbajo and Nwajiuba had contested the presidential primary of the ruling party with Tinubu, the eventual winner, whilst Dogara and Lawal have fiercely registered their opposition to Tinubu’s choice of a Muslim like himself as running mate.