By: Inuwa Bwala
The mood in Merit House, venue of a one day summit of Nigeria Northern Christian Professors Forum, was somber, before his coming, but was electrified immediately he showed up.
Presidential running mate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Kashim Shettima stole the show when he virtually sermonized the speech of his boss, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the summit.
As a muslim Shettima, quoted extensively from the Holy Bible, to buttress points, trying to deconstruct the narrative being promoted about the Muslim/Muslim ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC,for the Presidential race in the 2023 elections.
In his characteristic eloquence, the former Borno State Governor enlivened the summit, with the assurance to the academic eggheads, that, even as Muslims, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and himself, shall always plead the cause of Nigerians, irrespective of their religious inclination.
Quoting Proverbs 31:9, Shettima promised that their religious backgrounds will never affect their senses of justice in their dealings with other Nigerians.
With recourse to the quoted verse, Shettima pleaded with Nigerian Christians not to be quick in condemning them because of their faith, rather, judge them by the content of their characters: which have always been liberal and tolerant of other faiths.
Kashim Shettima told the gathering, which includes eminent Christian Professors and traditional rulers, that religion is a devious narrative in politics and Northern Christians should not fall for the trap being set up to polarize Nigerians.
On the issue of their vision for Nigeria, Shettima expounded that by their pedigrees, Nigeria will come out of the present doldrum, stressing that, others lack vision and lack of vision could lead to Nigeria perishing.
Again he quoted Proverbs 29:8, to the effect that, vision is the defining attributes of leadership but lack of it is a catastrophe.
Anyone listening to Shettima speak for the first time could have easily mistaken him for a Christian cleric, except perhaps the periodic betrayals of his ascent.
Interjecting his speech with Hause, the Presidential running mate told his audience, that, in the North, especially amongst the minority ethnic groups, one could find both Christians and Muslims; belonging to the same parents, yet cohabiting as brothers and sisters.
“As a matter of fact, two of the eminent Professors sitting amongst you are from Borno, and I bet you, they have brothers and sisters who are Muslims. It is therefore devious for people to use religion in trying to divide us. We are brothers and sisters”.
Kashim Shettima maintained that, anybody whose paths have crossed that of Bola Ahmed Tinubu or his path, can attest to the fact that, they are incapable of discriminating against Christians or causing anything that could diminish Christianity in Nigeria.
Before Shettima’s speech, former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, and patron of the Northern Christian Professors’ Forum, Elder Godsday Orubebe, had outlined fears of the average Nigerian Christians, tracing the genesis of the divisive narratives to the lack of participation of Christians in politics.
With the theme,”Nigeria Christians Participation in Secular Politics: Matters Arising”, the summit seems to present an ample opportunity for the APC Presidential standards bearers, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, to interface with the Christian elites and leaders of thought on how to deconstruct the raging narrative, which portrays the Muslim/Muslim ticket as a ploy against Christianity.