Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma has advised Nigerians to shun religious politics and avoid fanning the embers of ethnicity ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The governor gave the advice when he addressed State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in the State House, Abuja, on Tuesday.
Uzodimma, who was reacting to speculations that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was planning to feature a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket, said religion should not be a factor in determining who becomes the President or who becomes the running mate.
According to him, the decision to choose a running mate lies with the presidential candidate of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, not with the governors.
He said: “There is nowhere in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where religion is a factor or characteristic as to who becomes a president or a running mate.
“We are looking for a united Nigeria where governance will be the issue, where a President will be adjudged by his capacity to deliver democratic dividends and develop Nigeria to look like other parts of the western world where democracy is working.
“I don’t want us to reduce governance in Nigeria to certain things that will encourage divisiveness, rather we should remain a united Nigeria, be our brothers’ keepers and have a president of Nigeria, representing every tribe, religion and denomination.
“The decision also to choose a running mate does not reside with any of us, the governors.
“It is the presidential candidate that will look at the local characteristics and every factor – political and apolitical – that will make him win his election and take the decision.
“So it’s not a decision that we will sit here and take for the candidate.”
On the possibility of selecting a serving governor as a running mate to Tinubu, Uzodimma said: “Why not? Ahmed Tinubu, have you forgotten he was a governor for eight years? If he chooses a governor so be it, we will support it.
“For now, we are no longer talking about who becomes running mate and who is not running mate. I have told you whose decision it is.
“The next thing as party leaders now and opinion leaders is for us to rise up, mobilise the voters and get members of our party to commit to a successful election by 2023 so that our president that is leaving will also be handing over to our own president of APC.
“This is our preoccupation now, that is, how to win the election.”
The governor disclosed that he was in the presidential villa to update Buhari on socio-economic development in Imo.
He announced that the president would soon visit Imo to inaugurate some development projects executed by his administration.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the president also met behind closed doors with some governors elected on the platform of APC.
The agenda of the meeting was unknown to newsmen at the time of filing this report.
When accosted, the affected governors declined to comment on the outcome of their meeting with the president.