As leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are in a dilemma over the choice of a Vice Presidential candidate, some northern governors are pushing for a Muslim-Muslim ticket but its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, may have his preferred candidate which according to him, “that is my right; it is in my pocket book.”
The governors who conceded the party’s presidential ticket to the South and narrowed down their massively supports to his candidacy at the presidential primary are insisting that Tinubu must select either a serving or former governor from the core North as his running mate in order to get massive support against the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Tinubu was elected candidate of the party at APC special convention last week in Abuja. Northern governors supported his candidacy to win other contestants, including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmad Lawan and former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, among others
With the northern governors are making overtures to Tinubu to pick one of them, which will mean a Muslim-Muslim ticket for the party.
“The northern governors are pushing him to make a choice from among them or former governors. In fact, that was why they worked against the consensus arrangement that could have produced a northern candidate. Had there been a consensus candidate, which was to have come from the North, none of the governors, either serving or former, would have benefitted from that arrangement. Knowing that a Southern candidate will make way for any of them to become vice president, they worked for that,” a source stated.
It was learnt that while the Muslim-Muslim ticket looks tempting, the Tinubu camp is looking at the implications.
“Tinubu’s supporters know that although a Muslim-Muslim ticket could favour him, it would give the North something to refer to, if in future they decide to push for North-North ticket,” the source.
A chieftain of APC said that in fairness to those fronting members of the Governors Forum, judging by the critical roles they played in the emergence of the candidate, they actually deserve an offer of first refusal to bring the running mate.
He said: “One of the governors should actually be the most viable option for consideration as the running mate, but almost all of them are of the Islamic faith. The only one that is a Christian, the governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, may not have actually worked for Tinubu’s emergence.
“The governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, is one person any right-thinking person can route for, but it can only fly if our party has settled for a risky Muslim/Muslim joint ticket.
Another governor who worked for Tinubu is Abduallahi Ganduje of Kano State. He can command the Kano voting population, but the same religious inclination will still be a serious factor. I am sure you heard Asiwaju pay glowing tribute to the Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, in his acceptance speech. One could safely conclude that he is also in consideration, but he falls into the same category like others.
“The governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, could also be considered, but apart from the fact that he is a Muslim, it is doubtful if he actually worked for Asiwaju or Chibuike Amaechi,” the chieftain said on condition of anonymity.”
A member of the national leadership of the party, who admitted the precarious situation facing the ruling in picking a running mate, argued that the party may sacrifice those primordial sentiments if they must shop for a running mate to withstand the Atiku threat.
According to him, “no matter the coloration you want to give it, we may be left with no option than to settle for a Muslim/Muslim joint ticket. You see, where we can get a serious and reliable Christian as running mate should be in the North Central.
“However, beyond the fact that our national chairman, Abdulahi Adamu is from that zone, going far north remains the most viable option for us. We need a political heavyweight from the North East especially, or North West to neutralise whatever force Atiku might provide.”
However, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has have thrown in a huddle against a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
In a statement by its General Secretary, Joseph Daramola, the Christian Association opined Tinubu to pick a Christian running mate from the North, while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, should pick a Christian running mate from the south while insisting that Peter Obi of the Labour Party choose a Muslim from the North as running mate.
“Anything contrary means that the leadership of these political parties do not bother about the unity of Nigeria. And also, those who are planning a Muslim/Muslim ticket should find out the outcome of the MKO Abiola and Kingibe ticket in 1993”, CAN said, warning that “if they try Muslim/Muslim ticket this time round, the outcome will be disastrous because our fault lines are very visible.”
The fears among the promoters of the Muslim-Muslim ticket is that only a core northern Muslim would guarantee massive votes among the predominantly Muslim population in the North, which could be decisive during elections.
But in the midst of the complicity, Tinubu, recently maintained that his choice of running mate is in his pocket book.
Speaking to journalists after a he visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, on Thursday, Tinubu lauded the President for providing a level playing field for the process of selecting the party’s presidential candidate.
He recounted that the president had promised many times that he would support the democratic process and he had proven that with the party’s presidential primary, which he won.
“He promised the whole country and the world that he will build a legacy of transparency and consistency; legacy of a level playing ground for all the aspirants. He will be committed to democratic principles and values and he did so.
“He didn’t endorse anybody, he didn’t impose anybody, and he did not at any time attempt to tinker with the process of this election to favour one tribe or the other. He was steadfast, he was trustworthy, and he was dependable…
“If he had to give it to anybody yesterday, it is not my victory that is important, it is the process and the management of that election that gave it to President Muhammadu Buhari,” he said.
Asked what his selling point would be on the campaign for the 2023 election, he said; “I am brilliant, I am experienced from the private sector to public sector and ready to hit the ground running same day and not mess up the legacy of progress and honesty that is left behind for me and handed over to me by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“All APC family members should celebrate in a limited manner, we just begin the hard work ahead to win the victory for our party is a hard one and we will win”, he said.
Asked also of the choice of his running mate, he said “I won’t tell you that. That is my right; it is in my pocket book.”
Again, last week while addressing party stakeholders, President Buhari promised to work closely with governors of the ruling APC for the victory of Tinubu at the general election.
In a letter addressed to Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State and Chairman, Progressives Governor Forum, Buhari described the just-concluded presidential primary of the APC as one the most competitive and peaceful in the history of Nigeria’s democracy.
Part of the letter released yesterday by a presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, read: “The party primaries were peacefully conducted and the delegates have selected the candidate to carry the APC flag in the 2023 Presidential Primaries.
“Today, as a patriotic APC member and stakeholder, I trust that you will come together to work with our candidate to win the 2023 elections.
“In the past 7 years in government, we have achieved a lot. However, we have a lot more to do. The APC project is far from over and we need all of you to come together to ensure our progressive journey to peace and prosperity is sustained.
“Our candidate, His Excellency, Sen. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is no stranger to you. He is our friend and brother. We know his commitment, his track record and his capacity to lead our party to success. So, now is the time for all of us to come together and march forward as we did in 2015 to a convincing APC victory.
“I look forward to working closely with APC Governors to support Sen. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and all our APC candidates to success in 2023.”