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“I am not aspiring to be vice president because of my faith” – Governor Lalong advocate to be Tinubu’s VP while denying the role of religion

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Ahead of tomorrow’s deadline of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for submission of candidates for the presidential positions by political parties, Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong, has said that he believes in politics of inclusion.

He added that jettisoning a known tradition would not augur well for the polity and that it amounted to exclusion. 

Lalong stated this when he featured on Trust TV’s 30-minute interview programme, anchored by Malam Mannir Dan-Ali.

The Plateau governor’s statement came at a time all eyes were on President Muhammadu Buhari and the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to unveil the running mate of the party.

There have been mixed reactions over the purported moves by the party to field a Muslim-Muslim ticket for the February 25, 2023, presidential election.

Lalong in his interview with Trust TV said he is not aspiring to be the running mate of Tinubu because of religion.  

“I am not aspiring to be vice president because of my faith; I am aspiring because I am qualified,” he said, stressing the need for all to be carried along in all spheres.

Speaking on the role northern governors played in reducing tension at the height of campaigns before the APC’s special convention, Lalong said, “When we picked them (five presidential aspirants), we didn’t talk about religion but then in politics, there is always a tradition. 

“When people believe in that kind of tradition, the moment you deny them that tradition, it means that you are already excluding them from politics.”

On how he managed politics of inclusion in his state, Lalong said, “I realised that some of the crises that were happening in Plateau were because of exclusion. People believed that they were excluded.

“In politics, you talk about the majority having their way while the minority should be given the opportunity to have a say. Once you have that, you have complete peace in your place,” he said while responding to a question on the Muslim-Muslim ticket.

Lalong added that “We are talking about a peaceful federation. Already we are in crisis. Managing the crisis is not only winning the election but also how to govern the country. 

“When you start thinking about that, you must look at every interest and give them that sense of belonging.”

On what the northern governors were doing on the selection of a running mate, he said the president has not given them the mandate to select the running mate.

“I am sitting down like any other person and hoping because this is politics. I have heard my name here and there and other names.

“The flag bearer is at the discretion of choosing and I am sure he is going to do that in conjunction with Mr President. Though we expect that there will be cooperation in selecting a running mate, Mr President has not directed us to look for a running mate,” he said.

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