On Thursday the presidential candidate of the All-Progressive Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu met with the Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria. 

Confirming the news of the closed-door meeting, the APC stakeholder wrote on his Twitter page, “earlier today at a lively, productive and amiable meeting with a delegation representing the Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria, we discussed important issues of national significance as well as my determination to deliver unity, harmony and lasting peace to Nigeria.”

State of play 
The APC flag bearer received criticism from fellow party members, political analysts and rivals over his choice of running mate, Kashim Shettima. The duo of Tinubu and Shettima represents a Muslim Muslim candidacy, a party representation that has not been known since the duo of late Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola and Baba Gana Kinigbe in the 1993 presidential elections. 

  • This partnership has not been entirely acceptable to the general public because Nigeria is a religiously bias nation whose spiritual sentiments features in several forms including elections.
  • Although Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has overtime claimed that his choice of running mate was based solely on competence, it is unsure whether the duo would receive significant votes from Christain voters who represent at least 45 percent (as of 2018) of the country’s population. 

What they are saying 
Multiple reports confirmed that at the meeting between the presidential candidate with the northern clergy’s, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu implored the religious heads to judge him based on his track record, plans and agenda for the country and not his religious beliefs. 

He also reechoed that his choice of running mate was simply based on competence and dedication to the task ahead. 

The Chairman of Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria, Archbishop John Praise in response to the presidential candidate’s speech said “we are not committed to endorsing anybody, but you should ask your conscience and from what you have heard and from the explanation, he (Tinubu) had given to us to make your own judgement of who will better rule and handle the country.”

Why it matters 
The customary pairing of presidential victors in Nigeria from 1999 till date has been a Southern-Northern and Christian-Muslim candidacy. Considering that the duo of Tinubu and Shettima are taking a strongly opposed route, the duo would need to convince a significant percentage of the Christain community to put aside religious sentiments to achieve success in the 2023 presidential election. 

  • Therefore, meetings with these critical stakeholders are unavoidable. 
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