The presidential candidate of the Peoples Trust, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has faulted Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and others who he accused of dangling 2023 presidential ticket as a political carrot.
He described the politicians in that category as “agents of ethnic balkanisation and political retrogression.”
According to a statement made available to journalists in Abuja on Sunday, Olawepo-Hashim spoke at a meeting in Lagos on Saturday.
He said the “increasing ethnicisation” of the February presidential election by high-ranking state officials was disturbing.
He said it was more alarming that Osinbajo was leading the “ethnicisation campaign.”
He wondered why the high office of Vice President should be dragged in the mud of tribal bigotry.
He said, “That reprehensible statement promising 2023 presidency to the South West should never have emanated from the Office of the Vice-President.
“That office transcends tribal thinking. The Presidency is and should be a rallying point for all Nigerians irrespective of tribes or religions.”
The presidential candidate said tribal campaign hinged on 2023 as a promissory note confirmed the shallowness of political discourse as issue-based campaigns have been jettisoned by the two mainstream political parties.
He added, “Nigerians have grown beyond this bigotry through inter-marriage, electoral endorsement and business union.
“As early as First Republic, the Tiv people elected a Kanuri man as their representative to the Northern House of Assembly.
In 1993, late Abiola beat Bashir Tofa in Kano. Today, so disappointing, some top leaders instead of building on our achievements in the area of national unity, are busy pushing to split and reopen old animosity and rancor among our people.”
Wondering why politics and campaign cannot be about higher ideals of national unity and prosperity, Olawepo-Hashim said the Presidency should be about merit, competence and passion to deliver on good governance.
“The Presidency must be about how further to unite the country, not how to divide it more.
“It must be about how to bring progress, not how to foster underdevelopment.
“It is not about ethnicity or religion but on what you have to offer the people and the state.
“Let those seeking re-election campaign on their records. Using state funds to curry votes through TraderMoni and other contraptions is very cheap and ridiculous.
“Let us focus on the realities of underdevelopment threatening our collective existence.
“For me and our party, we preach a Pan-Nigerian agenda as a modern state where citizenship is for individuals, not based on ethnic or religion.
“I will be a President of all Nigerians, regardless of their political, religious and tribal inclinations,” he said.