Lalong on Muslim-Muslim ticket: As a Knight, Pope hasn’t told me to reject Tinubu’s campaign DG

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Plateau state Governor and Director-General All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Organisation Simon Lalong, has said as an ardent Catholic, the Pope never told him that accepting to lead the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket was wrong.

The governor said this Wednesday in Abuja while fielding questions from State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said the Concerned Christians on the Plateau (CCP) that staged a rally in Abuja asking him to reject the offer to serve as head of the campaign team  was faceless.

The governor urged Nigerians to grow from ethnic and religious sentiments, stressing that he already accepted the job and there was nothing anybody can do to dissuade him from performing his responsibilities.

“So, if you see people talking about me rejecting it…I’ve accepted it already. It’s not an option. I’m a Christian. I went through missionary schools. I respect my being a Christian. I have been given the highest award by the Pope. The Knight of St. Gregory the Great.

“And as a Catholic, everything we do, we send the advice to the Pope. The Pope has not told me that what I’m doing is bad to accept the Director-General. As a Catholic, we take that direction,” he said.

He said the appointment was strictly a party affair and has nothing to do with religion.The governor also denied allegations that he lobbied to become the running mate of the APC presidential candidate in the 2023 elections, Asiwaju Bola AhmedTinubu.

“I am a member of the APC, a founding member of the APC. I don’t do anti-party activities. Some people said because I was denied VP. I did not lobby for VP. Yes, many people were lobbying and writing on my behalf, but what I have always wanted to be and obtained form for is Senate.
“I have a senatorial ticket that I am waiting for. So, if at any time some people who wanted to be VP lost out and they’re using religion, they should not use me to help them.

“We are already far, we’re talking about the leadership. We’re talking about addressing the problems of Nigeria, and all we’re talking about is good leadership that can come from any region,” he said.

Tinubu urges Obi on supporters

Meanwhile, the Tinubu Campaign Organisation has appealed to the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, to call his supporters to order and allow the election circle to be about issues that will advance the growth, progress and stability of Nigeria. 

In a statement Wednesday in Abuja, by its Director  Media and Communications Bayo Onanuga, the TCO admonished the LP presidential candidate to get his supporters to desist from spreading lies, malice and denigrating other candidates, especially Asiwaju Tinubu.

TCO further stated that “Nigeria will be better for it and the electoral process will be enriched if the 2023 presidential campaign sticks to issues of good governance that will lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty rather than being dominated by the ravings of guttersnipes, who do not wish the country well.” 

 The campaign team, he said, “saw the need to appeal to Mr. Obi to rein in his supporters after investigating the origin of the fake report claiming that the Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo wrote a letter to the All Progressives Congress Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, asking him to support Peter Obi and take care of his health.” 

President of Ghana debunks claim 

The campaign team said President of Ghana, Akufo-Addo,  in his official Twitter account, vehemently debunked the fake news as a product of deliberate mischief with the intent to deceive the public.

Onanuga, quoting from the president’s twitter handle, said: “I have written no such letter to the APC leader, and it will not occur to me to do so. Ghana and Nigeria boast of decades of cordial, strong and brotherly relations, and I am not going to be the one to interfere in the internal affairs and politics of Nigeria,” said President of Ghana via Twitter. “We have found that the fake news about Akufo-Addo’s letter was first published on June 22 by a rogue platform, whose url reads as (sic) and site identity as World of News.

 “A content analysis of the site clearly showed that it is a  Biafra news platform. The fake news was reposted on Facebook by Peter Obi Support Group, same day – a clear proof that Biafra campaigners and Peter Obi supporters are the same.

“Both the Facebook account  and the website are replete with fake stories about Bola Tinubu, including a fake story credited to former governor Akinwunmi Ambode, alleging that Tinubu demanded N50billion monthly payment from him. The spuriousness of the statement is in the evidence that Lagos did not begin to clock  N50billion revenue until after Ambode left office. Tinubu could not have demanded N50billion monthly payment from Ambode when the state government didn’t make such in a month throughout the tenure of Mr. Ambode.

 “The pirate website, which the Facebook account feeds on also parades malicious fake news and headlines such as “I am old, but my blood is young, please vote for me – Tinubu begs youth.”

 “There is also the most wicked of all headlines: When I became president, I will build more prison (sic) for Igbo’s and IPOB members – Tinubu.” “The big surprise in all of these is that all the headlines have no supporting stories, and clicking them may bring virus to your computer. 

 “We have come to a point where it becomes imperative to tell Mr. Obi to show leadership and disavow his supporters who are employing fake news and disinformation as deliberate tools to deceive and poison the minds of unsuspecting Nigerians,” Onanuga further stated. 

‘Tinubu has no dementia’

 In a related development,  the lawmaker from Enugu East senatorial district and former governor of Enugu state, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, has  said without evidence of dementia, Asiwaju Tunubu is qualified to run for President. He said as colleagues, they pioneered the first meetings of Conferences of Southern Governors meeting which brought to the front burner issues of federalism both physical and fiscal.

Both Tinubu and Nnamani were governors between 1999–2007.

In a statement made available to newsmen Wednesday in Abuja,  Nnamani  said Tinubu  implemented the full requirements of access to the Justice reform project and made the Lagos State Criminal Justice system, one of the best in Africa. “The Judges stopped writing physical notes, more advanced vehicles were provided and participation in Conferences guaranteed,” he added.

 He recalled a National Competition on Reform advances amongst States covering Governance, Transparencies, Budgeting and Ease of doing business,  where Enugu under his watch emerged tops, followed closely by either Lagos State or the FCT. In addition to what Tinubu and himself accomplished for their various states, Nnamani said.

Both governments pioneered development centers. 
He also recalled how the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration for obvious political reasons, denied Lagos state under Tinubu, federal allocation dues for years, but still carried on with governance.

 “His Justice sector also provided jobs to many spouses of non-Lagosians working and residing in Lagos. I had cause to engage with him on jobs for Enugu spouses,” he said.   The statement read in part: “In the Education Sector he introduced tutor general and raised the bar for earning by teachers. In Enugu, we approved that Primary School Teachers could rise to level 16.
“Tinubu also directly intervened in Enugu spouses who had issues as teachers. In the health sector, I faintly recall a Soyinka heading his HIV program and later becoming Health Commissioner! As a doctor, I kept a tab on his strides in my professional area.

“He put in programs coordinating health and Justice for abused women and children. Tinubu had a first-class social work response program. His reform advocacy was second to Enugu State. I had the advantage of background but was gravely limited by resources. 

“He left a lasting legacy of hard work in Lagos State in infrastructure (roads and housing). “When Bola Ahmed Tinubu was governor, Lagos state’s IGR rose from 600 million Naira per month to over 8 billion Naira per month. He had an impressive track record as a governor; his state contributed more than 30% to our country’s GDP, accounted for more than 65% of industrial investment in Nigeria, 80% of its international trade, and collected more than 60% of the country’s value-added tax. In the area of human capacity, his mentorship was first class and his mentees have spread out and like little acorns, many have become giant oak trees in Nigeria’s political firmaments.

“I vigorously oppose, protest and detest the shameless campaigns and parody targeting Tinubu’s health. 

 “As a health worker, I am amazed by the ignorance, foolishness, wickedness and callousness of these idiotic operators. I believe they are unwarranted, extremely unprofessional, and have no place in our polity. 

 “These actions which bleed my heart personally are of public records. History and the Almighty will be very harsh to these bad political comedians. Since we all desire a better Nigeria, our politics should be grounded in facts and reliable evidence. 

“This is the only way we can advance this nation. Ahmed Bola Tinubu is the most successful Governor in modern Nigeria bar none, a result of combination of many truisms some beyond him.

“Bola Tinubu needs to work on improving relationships with many others especially my people the Igbo. He needs to lead by advocacy, example, practice and open-mindedness in assuaging the feeling and ongoing hostility toward the Igbo in Lagos. 

“Tinubu is qualified to run for president of Nigeria in 2023 as there is no evidence that he has dementia. While my vote is covered by the umbrella per my Party PDP and our candidate, HE Atiku Abubakar. I take a bow for the hardest working Politico of this generation. He patiently paid his dues.” 

 ADC cautions 

But the national leadership of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) has warned Nigerians to beware of the ruling APC  and the major opposition People Democratic party(PDP) ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The ADC said the two parties had taken dangerous paths to Nigeria’s disintegration.It said while the APC settled for a Muslim-Muslim ticket despite agitations against the move, the opposition PDP refused power shift to the Southern Nigeria. The ADC also declared that from all indications, the ruling APC cannot put an end to insurgency unleashed on Nigerians by Boko Haram and ISWAP.

 The party made the position known at the unveiling of the spokesperson for the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, as its global campaign director general. Delivering his maiden speech at the unveiling on inclusivity, diversity, peace and united Nigeria, irrespective of religious or geographical region, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman said his team had developed a winning strategy not only to penetrate the North but to deliver Dumebi Kachikwu as the next Nigerian President.
  “As the 2023 fresh round of general elections draws closer, Nigerians can see that major political parties in the contest have inadvertently taken the dangerous contours that led to the events of 1966 which laid the foundation of the collapse of the first republic Nigerian politics and the setting in of regional, religious and tribal hatred, jealousies and distrust.  
“This they have done by reincarnating the process of presenting presidential candidates that tend to tilt towards a heated struggle for political ascendancy solely for regional, tribal and even religious domination and not for the unity and reintegration of a people and a nation desperately in need of leadership. This, without doubt, is a recipe for disaster and greater conflict.

 “Fortunately, one party, the ADC, has opted for neutrality, justice and equity in choosing all its candidates for the 2023 general elections. Its presidential candidate, Mr Dumebi Kachikwu, a young entrepreneur and social crusader is from the South-South of the Niger Delta. 

 “Dumebi is not in any way tainted or dented. ADC listened and chose generational shift and someone who has not been part of the corruption in our governments. ADC cares. Yes we listen and we care.

 “By this, the ADC has not only presented the alternative vehicle for unification of the country, but also avail Nigerians with a candidate that is for all intents and purposes, represents the organic link between the old generation and the emerging new generation which is the natural and legitimate claimant to the task of reshaping the society everywhere.
 “The ADC’s primary mission is to change the current Nigeria’s political culture from one that serves only the leaders, to one which creates leaders that serve the people,” said the ADC campaign leader.