The presidential candidate of the People’s Trust (PT), Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim has described politicians who are dangling the 2023 presidential ticket during campaigns as agents of retrogression.

Speaking in Lagos while hosting a brainstorming session on finding national consensus over the state of the nation, Olawepo-Hashim decried the raging campaigns of calumny and wondered why many politicians could not make their campaigns issue-based.

He expressed dismay at the increasing ethnicization of the February presidential election by high-ranking state officials, describing the unhealthy trend as an unwitting attempt at ‘somalilization’ of Nigerian politics. 

While noting that it was alarming that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo was part of the ethnicization campaign, Olawepo-Hashim wondered why the respected 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 tribe or religion. Nigerians have grown beyond this bigotry through inter-marriage, electoral endorsement and business union.

“As early as the First Republic, the Tiv people elected a Kanuri man as their representative to the Northern House of Assembly. In 1993, the late M.K.O Abiola beat Bashir Tofa in Kano.

“Today, so disappointingly, 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 rancour among our people.”

He added: “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 under-development.

“It is not about ethnicity or religion but what you have to offer the people and the state. Let those seeking re-election campaign based 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 under-development 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 ethnicity or religion.

“I will be a President of all Nigerians regardless of their political, religious or tribal inclinations.”