Former Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, said contrary to speculation, Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, was not selected to placate the Christian community.
Lalong, who is also the Chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum, was recently unveiled at the State House as Director General of Tinubu Presidential Campaign Council.
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, had presented the governor to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), during a closed-door meeting at the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja.
He said, “We are here to see Mr. President to brief him and to get his approval of plans that we are having regarding our campaign outfit.
“And once we have his approval, we intend to make major disclosure. We’re on the same page with the President and the individuals who will play various roles in the campaign.
“The DG of the campaign is seated by my right here. Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State.
“We have a spokesperson in the person of Festus Keyamo. The deputy spokesperson is Hannatu Musawa. This is what we came to discuss with the President.”
Adamu explained that the choice of Lalong was based on his ability to do the work required to ensure victory for the Tinubu-Shettima ticket in the next year’s presidential election.
Corroborating his position in a phone interview, Shittu said that the choice of Lalong and spokesman for the campaign council, Festus Keyamo, was not a move taken to appease the Christians, especially in the North.
He said, “There is no point reading meanings or introduce religious undertone into the move. Lalong is a member of the party and a governor who is almost through with his tenure and he has agreed to accept the position.
“Nevertheless, it is the duty of the candidate to appoint somebody he thinks is capable and can do the work.”
According to the DG of the Asiwaju Tinubu-Shettima Coalition for Good Governance, Lalong is a sociable person, who is at peace with his people, regardless of religion or tribe.
“Since he became governor of Plateau state, have you heard of any complaint by Muslims? That is because he has been very fair to everyone in the state. We should just thank God that our party is getting it right in all respects,” he said.
When asked about the criteria for selecting candidates for such sensitive position, the ATSCGG director general explained that there is no formal approach to choosing the head or members of a presidential campaign council.
Shittu further noted that the DG of any presidential campaign team will be required to provide logistics and other necessary details at three different locations in each state.
“Choosing such candidate has to be the prerogative of the flagbearer and Northern governors. You also have to consider his competence. Keyamo, on the other hand, has certainly been through this before.
“Any outgoing governor could have been chosen because the job of a campaign council head is formalise the party’s electioneering exercise in the sense of organising seat-by-seat arrangement in various states and other logistics. It will also be on a nationwide basis and providing the wherewithal to ensure that the campaign succeeds,” he stated.
On why Oshiomhole, who was earlier touted for the position, was dropped, the former Minister of Communications disclosed that it is down to the decision of the flagbearer and his policy-making team.
He said, “Everybody knows that for one to be the Director-General of a campaign council, there is an advantage in being a current governor. This is because of the encumbrance of finances, expenditures and security. If you pick someone who is not a governor, you have to start begging for money here and there. But a serving governor will readily provide the money needed.
“The candidature of Lalong, certainly, pleases my heart with regard to the recent circumstances of our politicking as a nation.”