Even though the battle for the presidential ticket of the All Progressive Congress (APC) has been won and lost, with former Lagos State governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, emerging as the presidential candidate, the party and it flag bearer still have the choice of a running mate to Tinubu as a hard nut to crack.
Tinubu won the party’s presidential primary in a landslide to clinch the party’s ticket ahead of the 2023 general election.
The presidential primary of the governing party was an open contest that was keenly contested, after the bid by the party to produce its presidential flag-bearer through a consensus failed woefully.
Consequently, the race for Tinubu’s running mate has already begun in earnest. There are speculations that Tinubu, a Muslim from the South West, for political expediency may pick a northern Muslim instead of a northern Christian as running mate.
However, many Christian groups are already kicking against a possible Muslim/Muslim ticket.
LEADERSHIP gathered that if Tinubu eventually settles for a Muslim/Christian ticket, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, may be favoured.
It was learnt that it was one of the major reasons he returned to the APC.
Though he is from a minority tribe in Bauchi and lacks the clout to gather a substantial amount of votes from the north, some party stakeholders consider him as an urbane politician who is touted to be one of the running mate to Tinubu
Also, this paper learnt that Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, is one of the favorites to emerge running mate to Tinubu if he decides to pick a northern Christian.
“Lalong is also the chairman of the northern governor’s forum and this is an added advantage. If his colleague northern governors can galvanize support for him, he may be in good stead. Also, his presence on the ballot will attract many Christians in the north and middle belt,” a source told our correspondent last night.
There are, however, there are fears that his influence is limited and does not have the required national spread to pull substantial votes for the party.
Also the current secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, is another possible choice for running mate to Tinubu, if the presidential candidate insists on getting a Christian from the North.
Mustapha is a Christian from Adamawa and may swing substantial votes of the Christian population in the region to Tinubu’s favour.
But another source in the APC said there are fears within the party that northerners may vote massively for the Peoples Democratic Party( PDP) candidate, Atiku Abubakar, irrespective of party affiliation and the only way to checkmate him is to pick a northern Muslim.
Also, there are those who believe that if Tinubu decides to damn the consequences and go for a Muslim running mate from the north, then Kaduna State governor, Nasir El- Rufai, has the right of first refusal.
According to insiders, the calculation in Tinubu’s camp is that El-Rufai is from the North West, the region with the highest votes in the country.
Also, his performance on the job as Kaduna governor cannot be faulted and his achievements in Kaduna have been lauded by friends and foes alike.
“Kaduna State governor has proven beyond doubt that he is arguably the best governor the state has ever produced since 1999. As a running mate, he will get a substantial amount of votes from the northwest and also states in the northeast. He has a reputation for being a performer and that is one thing the party is considering”, one of our sources hinted.
But there are some APC stakeholders who see him as a divisive figure who may be too powerful as a running mate.
The Jigawa state governor is also seen as one of the front runners to be running mate to Tinubu.
Meanwhile, in the primary election at Eagle Square that lasted all night, from Monday night to 2:17pm yesterday, Tinubu polled 1,271 to defeat his closest rivals, Rotimi Amaechi and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who scored 316 and 235 respectively.
Senate President Ahmed Lawan scored 152 votes; Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello got 47 votes; David Umahi, 38 votes; Ben Ayade, 37; Ahmed Yerima, 4, while former Science and Technology minister, Ogbonnaya Onu and former minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba got one vote each.
Pastor Tunde Bakere, Senator, Rochas Okorocha, businessman, Tien Jack-Rich and former Information minister, Ikeobasi Mokelu got 0 votes respectively.
2,340 delegates voted in the contest that produced Tinubu as APC flag bearer to face former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and others in the February 25 presidential ballot.
Declaring Tinubu winner of the primary, chairman of the APC election committee and Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu, who returned Tinubu as the elected presidential candidate said, “This is to certify that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, having scored the highest number of votes cast, is hereby declared the winner.
“In line with the provisions of the constitution of our great party and by the power conferred on me as the Returning Officer of this special convention, I, Atiku Bagudu, do hereby declare Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the presidential candidate of our party in the 2023 presidential election.”
Tinubu got his groove back after weeks of political intrigues, horse trading and maneuver within the governing APC that t failed to produce a consensus candidate.
It became clear that Tinubu was already coasting home to victory when some of the presidential aspirants began to step down while addressing delegates before the voting process.
The first aspirant to step down for Tinubu was former minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, who instead of soliciting votes for himself asked the delegates to vote for the APC leader.
Former Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, followed suit, even as Senator Ajayi Boroffice and former Speaker Dimeji Bankole indicated signalled their support for Tinubu.
Another major endorsement for Tinubu came from Jigawa State Governor, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar before the only female aspirant, Uju Ken-Ohanenye, threw in the towel for the APC.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo got one endorsement Pastor Nicholas Felix.
The ninth aspirant who withdrew from the race, former Senate President Ken Nnamani, only expressed his displeasure over failure of the party to zone its ticket to the South East.
Nigeria Back On Track – Tinubu
Menawhile, in his acceptance speech, Tinubu said the country was back on track following his emergence, adding that he did not expect to clinch the party’s presidential ticket.
“I did not expect to win, I won. I must be intoxicated with victory,” he stated, even as he declared that he holds no grudges against members of his party who worked against him.
He further said, “The competition is now over. Those who did not support me, you have nothing to fear. I hold no grudges and grievances. Let us each agree to join hands in defeating PDP and beat back their retrogressive understanding of Nigeria.
“The PDP is Nigeria’s main opposition party. The party had ruled Nigeria for 16 years before it lost in 2015 to the APC.
“They had 16 years, they depleted our resources and left us with hunger. Let us dig their graves by defeating them in the next election because they are the agents of poverty, terror, violence and lying.”
Tinubu thanked all the seven aspirants who stepped down for him during the primary, saying “you chose to step down through personal ambition and conviction that I will do a better job not because you denigrate yourself but because you trust in my brain that I am a thinker and I am a doer.”
Applauding other candidates for putting up a good fight, he said, “It is a difficult thing to run for president, the stiff and bold competition you offered made our party stronger, made me better. I am a better man; I am humbled and grateful to all of you.”
For Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Tinubu said he is a good and supportive pillar to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We thank you for being steady and a good support to our president,” he said.
Tinubu implicitly chided Senate President Ahmad Lawan, saying “I would have been a little upset because you compete with me but that is over now since you can easily leak your wounds.”
He however said it does not stop him from thanking the lawmaker for his contribution to Nigeria. “You have helped in steering the ship of this nation in the right direction and with your team in the Senate, history is written and will be kind to you,” he said.
He thanked the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hakeem Gbajabiamila, describing him as a ‘sparkling speaker.’
Despite working against his emergence, Tinubu thanked the APC national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu.
He said, “To the chairman of our party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, it appeared some weeks back that some newspapers and many people were ready to write the obituary of this party. We put together and pulled ourselves as a cat of nine lives. We poached you to come over, patched the roof, steady the pillars and be a master builder.
“You came on and you worked hard with the collaboration of others, we worked with you, a new national executive emerged. Here we are; shame on those who were already building the coffin of APC.
“Shame on them, our party is alive. They won’t be able to do the convention but here we are. The first convention to choose a new executive, the governors pulled themselves together and many other leaders, we did break our backs, we are here, very happy and confident and courageous to tell you that the cat that lies down quietly is not a pretension of death but breeding of the energy to devour its enemy. Now we are here, we will roar. We will do it.
“We will tell the Poverty Development Party. They call themselves PDP, 16 years of misery, wastefulness, failures, of forgetting about our children of today and tomorrow. We said step aside, be buried, cry and leave the way for us, we will repair our country and will bring it back as strong, the best nation for our children.”
“Mr Tinubu invited party leaders to join him in the journey, adding that he did not know what he had done to be nominated.
“In what is synonymous with a campaign promise, Mr Tinubu assured security personnel of better days and rewards in real-time.
“I must thank our men and women in uniform, those who make sacrifices of their lives, left family behind and continue to fight for the survival of this country. Be assured that it is the beginning of that time now you will enjoy reward and enjoy a part of your life, you will not sacrifice for nothing.”
Encouraging religious tolerance in Nigeria, Mr Tinubu said: “We are not the barbaric, blind human beings they think we are. They are setting us against each other. When you were born, you did not hear from the womb whether you will be a male or a female, Christian or Muslim. You were born to your parents and adopted their religions and continued, the faith is in the mind.
Reactions Trail Tinubu’s Victory
Meanwhile, reactions have continued to trail Tinubu’s emergence as APC presidential candidate, with president of the Senate, Ahmad, saying yesterday the emergence of Asiwaju has reassured the party of winning the 2023 presidential poll.
In a letter of congratulation he personally signed, Lawan said the outcome of the election process had shown that Tinubu was the popular choice of his party.
Lawan who said he was elated and proud that the presidential primary was manifestly free and fair, and conducted within the APC family under a most convivial atmosphere, added that the success of the event demonstrated the capacity of APC to run its internal affairs smoothly and devoid of rancour.
“As Your Excellency is aware, I offered myself alongside your good self and other patriotic members of the party to fly its highly coveted flag in the 2023 presidential election. I did so in the belief that I have the knowledge base, ideas, experience and desire to provide leadership for our dear country at these most trying times.
“However, the outcome of the election process has shown that Your Excellency is the popular choice of our party for that assignment,” he added.
On his part, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, congratulated Tinubu, saying he is elated that his political mentor has won the APC ticket.
He noted that Tinubu’s victory is a well-deserved one considering his years of working for the entrenchment and strengthening of democracy in Nigeria.
Also, the deputy speaker of Ahmed Idris Wase congratulated Tinubu.
Also, national chairman of the party, Abdullahi Adamu, congratulated Tinubu on behalf of national working committee (NWC) of the APC, saying he recorded a victory, which confirmed APC’s nationalistic outlook.
In a letter to Tinubu he signed and titled, ‘Letter Of Congratulations’, the APC national chairman said he was pleased that the party spoke with one voice as the delegates “voted overwhelmingly” to nominate Tinubu as presidential candidate.
“I write on behalf of the entire membership of the All Progressives Congress to congratulate Your Excellency on the sterling victory that you recorded at the just concluded Special National Convention to emerge as the Presidential Candidate of our great party.
“Your victory has vindicated our party’s nationalistic outlook and patriotic posture as the Party of choice for every Nigerian. I am pleased that the Party spoke with one voice when the delegates voted overwhelmingly to nominate you as our presidential candidate.
“It is my sincere hope and prayer that our collaborative efforts between the Party’s National Secretariat and your Presidential campaign team will proceed with the shared expectations of victory at the 2023 general elections, by the grace of God,” Adamu wrote.
On his part, Gombe State governor, Muhammdu Inuwa Yahaya, congratulated the national leader the APC on his emergence as the presidential flag bearer of the APC for the 2023 General election.
Reacting to the overwhelming victory of Tinubu at the just-concluded Special Inuwa, in a congratulatory message, described Tinubu’s emergence as a good omen and an expression of national unity of purpose.
A statement by Ismaila Uba Misilli, director-general of Press Affairs, Government House, Gombe, quoted the governor as saying his victory is a manifestation of his years of personal commitment, sacrifice, tenancy, political experience and service to the nation.
Describing Tinubu as an enigmatic leader and strong pillar with immense influence, Governor Inuwa expressed confidence that the APC standard bearer has the capacity, acumen and sagacity to mobilize support across the length and breadth of the country to give the ruling party a resounding victory at the forthcoming general elections.
He also expressed optimism that when eventually elected as president, the Jagaban will bring to bear his vast wealth of experience and network as a former Governor, Senator and political leader to hit the ground running and build on the successes of the Buhari-led administration in all facets of human endeavour.
He said Senator Tinubu has proven that he is able and capable to lead the nation, having governed Lagos state with a magic wand.
While commending Buhari for providing leadership and guidance that led to the enthronement of a transparent internal democratic process which resulted in the successful conduct of the APC Special Convention and Presidential primary, the governor urged other aspirants, party stalwarts and faithful to rally round the flag bearer to ensure victory at the 2023 Polls.
Ekiti State governor and APC Presidential Aspirant, Kayode Fayemi, congratulated Tinubu on his emergence as presidential candidate.
He also congratulated the APC leadership and the convention planning committee for the successful conduct of the special convention and presidential primary, as well as President Buhari for superintending over a free, fair, and credible process as national leader of the party
In a statement by his chief press secretary, Yinka Oyebode, Fayemi said Tinubu’s emergence represents the collective wish of the vast majority of members of the APC, adding that the former Lagos State governor has proven his dedication and competence to lead the country at such an important time in history.
Fayemi who stepped down and endorsed Tinubu at the convention, described the APC flagbearer as a “long distance runner”, who has the capacity to lead the country to greater heights come 2023.
“It is a great moment for our party. I congratulate Asiwaju Tinubu for the well-deserved victory and the leadership of the party as well as the convention committee members for a great job.”
Also, Kwara State governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, hailed Tinubu on his emergence as the APC presidential candidate.
AbdulRazaq, in a statement signed by his chief press secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, described the emergence of Tinubu as truly deserving, saying the ballot represents a resounding vote of confidence by the largest majority of party faithful and leaders in his capacity to lead the party to another victory.
“It was a moment to speak to the direction the party must take to consolidate on its own wins, build on the many successes of President Muhammadu Buhari, and raise a dynamic successor team that is able to take up the challenges of nation-building and development in a peculiar age of changing metrics of governance and collective security,” he noted.
Ondo State Governor and Chairman of Southern Governors’ Forum, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, hailed the outcome of the special convention for the presidential primary of the APC.
Akeredolu particularly lauded the emergence of Tinubu as the flag bearer of the party for the 2023 general election.
“I am particularly happy that our party displayed a total commitment to the ethos of democracy and embraced the path of fairness and equity.
“I congratulate our national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for clinching the ticket of our party. As a leader of the party, it is time to galvanize support and calm frayed nerves. The reconciliation process must start immediately. The time has come to be United for victory,” he said
Meanwhile, the minister of interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has congratulated Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on his emergence as the flagbearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) , describing him as a dogged and tireless fighter for democracy.
Aregbesola in a congratulatory message he personally signed, Aregbesola commended Tinubu for being dexterous and committed throughout the process that birthed his emergence.
The minister who also wished the Tinubu success in the forthcoming election said, “I write to felicitate with you on your hard fought victory at the just concluded Presidential Primary election of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Also, Niger State governor and chairman, North Central States Governor’s Forum (NCSGF), Abubakar Sani Bello, described the emergence Tinubu as the APC presidential standard flag bearer as one that is in the best interest of justice, fairness, unity and political stability of the nation.
The governor, in a congratulatory to message signed by his chief press secretary, Mary Noel-Berje , said the choice of Tinubu among other qualified candidates was not just an expression of confidence of the teeming party delegates across the country, but would remain a victory for the Nigeria project.
He said, “We wholeheartedly congratulate and rejoice with him. It is an affirmation of his wide acceptance and a clear demonstration that the APC national leader is credible, capable and has the ability of spearheading a march towards the country’s rebirth”.
Kano state governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, described Tinubu’s landslide victory as evidence of his high degree of acceptability in the North and his disposition as a bridge builder”.
While thanking all those who participated in the process as aspirants or officials, for promoting democratic process, he assured that APC would wax stronger as 2023 general election is drawing nearer.
On his part, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, congratulated Tinubu on his emergence as the presidential candidate of the APC, saying he has accepted defeat.
Bello, who was one of the leading contestants, described the election as peaceful.
The director, Media and Publicity, of the Yahaya Bello Presidential Campaign Organisation, Yemi Kolapo, said the Kogi governor has accepted the outcome of the primaries and would give the needed support to ensure the victory of the flagbearer and the ruling party in the 2023 presidential election.
He’s No Match for Atiku, Says PDP
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday told the APC presidential candidate, Tinubu, that he is not a match for its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
PDP, while lampooning Tinubu for clinching the APC ticket at a at very great price, said APC has since served out its purpose as a contraption that brought in a failed and corrupt administration.
The PDP national publicity secretary, Debo Ologunagba, in a statement, said, “Our Party also sympathizes with Asiwaju for embarking on a journey to nowhere as he is no match for PDP’s more popular, more competent and more prepared Presidential Candidate, His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar the unifier and the people’s choice, who defeated President Buhari fair and square in the 2019 Presidential election.
“Asiwaju will soon realize that Nigeria is not one of his acquired estates or fiefdoms and that the Nigerian people are not his political string-puppets and retinue of lackies, from whom he bought the APC Presidential ticket.
“Asiwaju will also soon realize that Nigerians hold him responsible for his self-confessed role in installing the failed Buhari-led administration that subjugated the people, brought excruciating economic hardship, acute poverty, bloodletting, terrorism, mass killings, promoted disunity, tribalism and nepotism, lawlessness, massive treasury looting and unpardonable life-discounting experiences to our country.
“It is indeed reprehensible that Asiwaju, after being handed an APC flag that refused to unfold in recognition of the gloomy times of the APC, did not demonstrate any form of remorse for the injuries he engineered and caused our nation in the last seven years.”
Ohanaeze, Igbo Leaders To Meet Over Tinubu, Atiku’s Emergence
Meanwhile, the apex Igbo Social-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has concluded
plans to meet with Igbo leaders of thoughts over the failure of the APC and PDP to give aspirants from the South East their presidential tickets at their conventions.
Atiku emerged presidential candidate of the PDP while Tinubu emerged the presidential
candidate of the APC at the conventions of the parties.
An executive member of Ohanaeze who spoke on condition of anonymity, reliably told LEADERSHIP that Igbo leaders are not happy that the two major political parties denied the Southeast the opportunity to use their platform to contest for the 2023 presidential election.
The source disclosed that during the meeting, the Ohanaeze leadership will brief the Igbo leaders on the efforts they made to persuade the two parties to give their presidential tickets to somebody from the Southeast.
The source further stated that Igbo leaders will also deliberate on the emergence of Atiku and Tinubu and take a decision on person to support or not to support.
“Ohanaeze and Igbo leaders of thought will have a meeting soon. After the meeting we will take a stand on the presidential primaries of the PDP and APC,” the source stated.
Consultation On Atiku’s Running Mate Still Ongoing – Tambuwal
The search for former vice president Atiku Abubakar’s running mate in the 2023 presidential election is still on, Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, disclosed yesterday after a meeting in Abuja.
Thwe governor who stated this after a meeting between PDP governors and Atiku over the choice of the former running mate.
Atiku who emerged PDP presidential candidate on May 29 is expected to pick his running mate from among the PDP southern governors.
Some of the top contenders for the vice presidential slot are Delta State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel. However, Enugu State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, is also said to be considered for the seat.
But speaking after the meeting with Atiku, Tambuwal, who doubles as the chairman of PDP Governors Forum, said Atiku consulted them over whom he wants to pick as running mate.
Tambuwal said, “It (running mate) is part of the consultation, its ongoing and governors are also being consulted on that.”
He however commended the party leadership for conducting a successful national convention.
He said, “The national chairman along with the candidate came to thank the governors for their roles at the convention.
“We talked about cooperation and collaboration in prosecuting a very successful electioneering campaign that will result into victories for the PDP at various elections from the state house of assembly, national election, governorship and the presidential election come February, 2023. It is more of a consultative meeting on matters concerning the way forward.”