Shocking Revelation: Did APC Hire Bishops, Priests to Unveiling of Shettima As Tinubu’s Running Mate?
More reactions have continued to trail the just concluded unveiling of Kashim Shettima as Bola Tinubu’s vice
Ahead of the 2023 elections, Christian Body, Nigerians and the opposition party are questioning the true identity of the Bishops present during the official ceremony of Shettima as the vice presidential candidate of the ruling APC
Meanwhile, this piece explains in detail what went down even as Nigerians demand answers from the APC over the Bishops identity
The controversy over the alleged hiring of bishops and priests by the All Progressives Congress, APC, has continued to spread across the country.
Recall that images of bishops and priests had emerged on social media showing that some bishops and priests attended the unveiling ceremony despite the controversy surrounding the resolve of the APC and its presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu to go for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Controversy Tinubu’s choice of Shettima
Tinubu had announced a former Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima as his running mate.
The former Lagos State Governor is a Muslim southerner and Shettima is also Muslim from the north. Past political arrangements have always been a combination of the two dominant religions in the country (Muslim and Christians).
Recall that the current APC government is formed with a Muslim president (Muhammadu Buhari) and Christian Vice president (Prof. Yemi Osinbajo).
Tinubu’s decision of opting for what many have considered political exclusion pushed the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, to withdraw their support for the APC candidate’s aspiration.
Many Nigerian Christians, especially members of the APC have consequently withdrawn their support for Tinubu. Some have even dumped the APC and now pitching their tents with other political parties.
The unveiling of Shettima
But despite the controversy, Tinubu and the APC went ahead to unveil Shettima on Wednesday, April 20, 2022, with images of bishops and priests who attended the event flooding social media.
But Tinubu, while explaining why he chose the former Borno State Governor at the unveiling ceremony, said his decisions on the team he chooses are guided by the principles of competence, compassion, innovation, integrity, fairness and being excellent.
“We will change this country for the better.
“All my life, my decision regarding the team around me and those I work with are guided by principles of competence, innovation, compassion, integrity, fairness and adherence to excellence.
“In politics those principles are sacrosanct. They are not negotiable. Without them, there can be no victory or joy.
“This is where politics must end and leadership must begin. True leadership is not grounded in religious pandering, populism or sentiment.”
Shettima’s defense for Muslim-Muslim ticket
Also, Shettima believes that his emergence has nothing to do with religion, but competence and a strategy to win the 2023 election.
He argued that if his emergence was not a popular opinion, goodwill messages from Christians would have been very poor.
According to him:
“This ticket isn’t an imposition; it’s an outcome of democracy at its practical best, and based on the aggregation of the ideas and insights, of our great party’s stakeholders. If this were an unpopular option, as the cast of partisan provocateurs has attempted to paint, there wouldn’t have been the tonnes of goodwill messages, especially, from distinguished Christians, from all over the country.”
Nigerians, CAN disown bishops
But Nigerians have stormed different social media platforms, making caricatures of APC claims that Christian bishops and priests were at the event.
Apart from the ordinary Nigerians and social media users, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has disowned the clergy.
Addressing the press, Rev. Joseph John Hayab, Vice President of CAN (19 Northern States and Abuja) and its chairman in Kaduna state, denied the bishops, stating that were hired to act as bishops.
According to the Christian umbrella body, Tinubu was free to “hire mechanics and other artisans and sew clerical garments for them”, but the effort would not change the need for fairness and justice.
“The people we saw at the unveiling of Shettima paraded as Bishops are people who did not have enough time to learn how to wear Bishop garments. Take a closer look at their photo and you will see another Nollywood movie.”
Since the statement, social media has gone agog with heated debates on whether the clergy seen in the picture were true bishops or not.
Tinubu insists bishops were real, not fake
But the Tinubu Campaign Organization, TCO, has since reacted, insisting that those were real bishops, even though they may not be very popular faces.
A statement signed by its Director of Media and Communication, Mr. Bayo Onanuga said:
“We want to say that those clergymen were not fake, not mechanics or yam sellers as the purveyors of hatred have made Nigerians to believe in the social media. They are not big names in Christendom yet, they are gradually building up their missions.
“They are church leaders who genuinely believe that Nigerians must eschew politics of hatred and religious bigotry and rather embrace politics of peace and nation building.”
Are the bishops real or fake?
Though it’s yet to be established concretely as to whether the bishops were real or fake, some social media proofs have pointed more to the direction that the bishops may have been hired.
Topnewstv.com.ng has identified some of the claims.
Report on alleged N100,000 deal with the “bishops”
A report by the Peoples Gazette claimed that one of the acclaimed bishops confessed to having a deal of N100,00 with the APC.
According to the narrator who identified himself as Joseph Odaudu, they were picked from a motor park and promised N100,000 each but were disappointed when they are paid between 30-40 thousand Naira.
“They came to meet us at the car park behind Eagle Square and they promised to give me N100,000. They bought food for us and took us to another place where they gave us clothes to dress like Christian leaders and reverend fathers,” Mr Odaudu told The Gazette.
“But after we finished, they only gave me N40,000 and another person said they got only N30,000. I don’t know why they changed our agreement because they said they had N100,000 for us.”
Nigerian identify faces of acclaimed bishops
Some Nigerians on social media have identified some of those who posed as bishops at the event.
While some claimed to know a few of them whom they identified either as carpenters from Kaduna State, a friend in Dutsen Alhaji in Abuja, others have claimed that some of the bishops look more like hungry people looking for money.
Though the above claims have not been substantiated yet, no one has been able to debunk them.
Wearing of liturgical, unfit clothes to Shettima’s unveiling
Another argument is that there are certain liturgical vestments that priests only wear to celebrate mass. Some of these clothes used by priests of various ranks in the context of religious ceremonies and festivals were seen on some of the priests at the event. Those who are knowledgeable in the field have argued that even the Cassok worn by most of the priests was unfit and looked like something readily put together for the event.
Bishops in all churches, especially in the Catholic Church are easily identified when they are seen in public places.
Topnewstv.com.ng has observed that not a single bishop has been identified by any of the known churches in Nigeria, giving the clue that they may be fake as claimed..
At this point, it’s difficult to conclude if the acclaimed bishops are actually fake or real as both social media argument and CAN position have not dismissed that the bishops are Christians. They may have come from an emerging denomination.
Even though the APC has not denied the confessional claim by a bishop that they were paid to appear, it’s still difficult to prove whether money exchanged hands over the mobilization of the clergy to the event.