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Northern Elders tackle Shettima over comments on Senate presidency



Buhari complacent over Ganduje, Sanusi feud —NEF

The Northern Elders Forum on Monday criticised Vice President Kashim Shettima over a statement credited to him on the senate president position.

The Vice President had during a meeting with some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the weekend defended the party’s decision to zone the country’s number three seat to the South.

He said: “Under the current dispensation, the worst incompetent Southern Christian is better than the most puritanical Northern Muslim for the presidency of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who addressed journalists at a press conference in Kaduna State, described the statement as unfortunate.

He stressed that such utterances would have been avoided if the senators-elect had been given the option of choosing the Senate President.

He also cautioned President Bola Tinubu against imposing the Senate President on the senators and insisted that the lawmakers must be allowed to choose their leaders.

Baba-Ahmed equally warned against the use of religion as a criterion for choosing the leadership of the Senate.

The spokesman said: “The nation has been made aware of comments made by His Excellency, Senator Kashim Shettima, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in the course of strengthening the cause for the election of leaders of the 10th Assembly, which the APC and the government preferred.

“A particularly outstanding comment made by him is that under the current dispensation, the worst, the most incompetent Southern Christian is better than the most puritanical Northern Muslim for the Presidency of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The Northern Elders Forum has cautioned the President Tinubu administration on many occasions to respect the rights and privileges of elected members of the Legislature to choose their leaders and to conduct its campaign for its preferences with sensitivity and decorum.

“The statement of Vice President Shettima in the context of the commitment of the administration to determine the legislature’s leadership makes references to Muslim and Christian faiths in the most unbecoming and irresponsible manner imaginable.

“It deepens the worrying position of religious faith as a fault line in our politics today and denigrates the place of an important value such as faith in the conduct of elected leaders, whether they are Muslims or Christians.

“The suggestion that poor faith and incompetence can be preferred to piety and competence when it suits political interests sends damaging signals to a nation desperate for good leadership.

“A statement of this nature coming from a Northern Muslim who has earned his respect in the course of his political career is most unfortunate.

“The suggestion that the piety of leaders could be sacrificed for political exigences offends a nation of Christians and Muslims who watch as leaders swear by the Qur’an and the Bible to protect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

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