The All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are engrossed in a tricky geo-political tussle bordering on how the running mates of their presidential candidates would emerge, LEADERSHIP Friday gathered yesterday.
While the APC and its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed, from the South West, are mindful of securing the bulk of Northern Muslim votes, the PDP and its presidential candidate, former vice president Atiku Abubakar, from the North East, have firmed their resolve to ensure that the running mate comes from the South South zone.
Sources within the APC confided in LEADERSHIP Friday yesterday that the primary factor that will influence who emerges Tinubu’s running mate is the ability to get block votes from the Northern states.
This is against the backdrop that, as a Southern Muslim, he is faced with the option of contesting the election with either a strong northern Christian politician or a Muslim.
What’s more, there are fears within the party that Atiku may get massive votes from the North, irrespective of party affiliation.
So far, Tinubu’s likely running mate include former Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara, Plateau State governor Simon Lalong, current secretary to the government of the federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai and his Kebbi State counterpart, Atiku Bagudu.
A source close to the Tinubu political family said the APC candidate is tinkering with picking a governor from the North East zone, noting that if that fails to fly, he might pick a Christian from the same region.
However, a South West APC chieftain who pleaded anonymity however told LEADERSHIP Friday that “the PDP should be less concerned about where our running mate will come from and who that person is likely to be. It is clear that the PDP is already oiling its propaganda machinery to spread falsehood in the country.
“Whether it is Christian-Christian ticket or Muslim-Muslim ticket is none of the business of the opposition. We are where we are because of all these primordial and emotional sentiments. How does insecurity differentiate us as worshippers of both Islam and
Christianity? Does hunger know the difference between Islam and Christianity? Is poverty so clear-visioned to know who is a Muslim or Christian?”
According to him, the objective of the ruling party was to win the election.
He asked, “Didn’t Muslims in the North vote for the MKO? Who saved the situation for us in the APC in the last 72 hours? Are they not the Northern governors most of whom are Muslims? So, what are we saying?
“However the ticket is, we will have a very formidable team because we will not be cowed by the antics and blackmail of the PDP to direct us into any politically inexpedient decision.
“Those blackmailing us now, did they not know that power ought to shift to the South? Why did they not see the sense in picking a Christian presidential candidate if they love Nigeria?”
In the PDP, however, it was gathered that Tinubu’s emergence foreclosed the prospects of Atiku picking his running mate from the South West, a situation which has caused discomfort among some party leaders who were scheming to get the position.
Recall that shortly after Tinubu won the APC presidential ticket, Atiku had held an emergency meeting with PDP governors in Abuja.
Sources in PDP told LEADERSHIP Friday that the South West was being considered by Atiku alongside the South South region for the VP Slot because the South West had the second largest bulk votes in the country.
It was also learnt that Atiku’s camp was hopeful that the APC would settle for either Senate President Ahmed Lawan or former minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, as presidential flag bearer.
But after Tinubu picked the APC ticket, the former vice president’s camp settled for the South South zone with Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike as a top contender.
Other contenders for the position are Delta State governor Sen Ifeanyi Okowa and his Akwa Ibom State counterpart, Udom Emmanuel.
It was, however, gathered that a former Osun State governor and a former Ondo State governor who had lobbied some former military generals for the PDP vice presidential slot kicked against the move to take the position to another zone.
It was learnt that they argued that it would be more difficult to campaign for the PDP in the South West now that the APC has a presidential candidate from the region.
The former governors had also accused the only governor from their region of supporting Wike to get the ticket.
“Although the South West PDP is likely to emerge national party chairman if Atiku wins and the incumbent party chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, resigns to recognise the North/South zoning arrangement for Presidency and party chairman, the South West leaders are insisting that the likelihood of such prospect is not as certain as the vice president position,” the source added.
Obi’s Running-mate Must Be Northern Muslim – LP Stalwart
Meanwhile, indications have emerged that the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) Mr. Peter Obi and his political spin-doctors are yet to commence any serious considerations for choosing his vice-presidential candidate.
A very close associate of the Labour Party’s presidential candidate told LEADERSHIP Friday that Obi and members of his presidential campaign organisation and supporters have been primarily occupied with the task of resolving the issue of factionalisation within the party’s national leadership which gave birth to the emergence of a parallel presidential candidate.
The LP stalwart, who spoke yesterday, however, expressed relief that with the eventual withdrawal of a factional presidential candidate of the party, Chief Jude Ezenwafor, it had become clear that the issue of factionalisation is being resolved.
In his letter of withdrawal from participating in the coming 2023 general election as Labour Party presidential candidate he addressed to Labour Party national chairman and copied to the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, a copy of which was made available to several online platforms, Chief Ezenwafor stated that he decided to withdraw from the presidential race on “personal reasons” after wide consultations with his supporters.
“I regret any inconveniences my withdrawal might cost our great party. I thank the leadership of our great party for giving me the opportunity to serve Nigeria”, Ezenwafor’s letter read.
Meanwhile, the member of Obi’s presidential campaign organisation told LEADERSHIP Friday that the LP presidential candidate must be chosen from the Northern part of the country and that the person must be a Muslim.
The source who spoke on condition of anonymity, however, stated that the issue of the zone where the running mate would come from would be decided when serious considerations of the person to be chosen commences.
Adamu Moves To Mend Fences, Lead NWC On Visit To Tinubu
After the failed attempt to impose a northern candidate on the party as its standard bearer for the 2023 polls, national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Adamu, had begun moves to mend fences with presidential candidate of the party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Adamu led members of the party’s national working committee (NWC) on a visit to the residence of Tinubu to congratulate him on his emergence as the party’s presidential flagbearer.
Since he was declared winner of the presidential primary at Eagle Square in Abuja on Wednesday, the Abuja residence of Tinubu had become a Mecca of some sorts, with party big wigs, interest groups and individuals thronging the place to confer with him.
Speaking yesterday when he visited Tinubu with NWC members, Adamu said the party was with Tinubu and he remains the party project.
“For us, action speaks louder than voice, we are here to join our brother, congratulate him and assure him that we are together. This is our project and by God’s grace we will succeed,’’ the APC national chairman stated.
Tinubu scored 1,271 votes to clinch the party’s presidential ticket at a special convention of the party, beating 13 other aspirants.
Before the convention, Tinubu was never Adamu’s favorite candidate as he was said to have announced Senate President Ahmed Lawan as consensus candidate at a meeting of NWC the in Abuja on Monday.
He told the NWC members that he arrived at the choice of Lawan after consultation with President Buhari.
But members of the NWC quickly distanced themselves from the endorsement of Lawan as the party’s consensus presidential candidate by the national chairman.
The NWC members led by APC national organizing secretary, Suleiman Argungu, told journalists that the NWC stood by the position taken by northern governors that the South should be allowed to produce the next president of Nigeria.
INEC Gives Parties June 17 Deadline To Submit Candidates’ Names
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the list of all presidential and governorship candidates must be accompanied by the names of their vice presidential and deputy governorship candidates without which the nomination is invalid.
The commission also stated that all nominations must be uploaded to the portal on/or before the deadlines, adding that the portal will automatically shut down at 6pm on Friday, 17th June, 2022, for national elections and 6pm on Friday 15th July, 2022, for state elections.
INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this at a meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), reminded political parties that only the names of candidates that emerged from democratic primaries as provided by Section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022 shall be submitted to the commission.
Yakubu said a nomination centre had been set up at the Commission’s headquarters to receive and process all nominations by political parties, including dedicated telephone lines, to serve as Help Desk for any party that may need assistance.
“With this innovation, the Commission has eliminated the physical interface between party officials and INEC staff for the purpose of submitting the list of candidates for the 2023 General Election,” he said.
On Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), the Commission said it had continued nationwide.
He, however, said as the deadline for the suspension of the current exercise approaches, the Commission had received reports of a surge in the number of prospective registrants that daily throng state and local government area offices as well as designated centres in many states across the country.
Yakubu reassured Nigerians that the Commission remains committed to ensuring that all citizens who wish to register are given the opportunity to do so.
“Already, some of the Resident Electoral Commissioners have requested for more voter registration machines to ease the congestion.
“The Commission will deploy additional machines to areas of need immediately. Thereafter, the Commission will meet to review the progress of the exercise and take further decisions.
“We will always respond positively to the needs of Nigerians and therefore appeal to all citizens to be patient with the Commission as we strive to serve them better.”
He appreciated the desire of Nigerians to register as voters and reassured all eligible registrants that no one would be left out.
Osinbajo, Umahi, Ayade, Dogara congratulate Tinubu, Pledge Support
Some of the aspirants in the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential primary election have congratulated the eventual winner, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on his victory, promising to back him in the general election.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who came third in the contest, in a statement he personally signed, congratulated Tinubu, saying that for many decades, he had shown passion, patriotism, courage and determination in the cause of nation-building.
He called on aspirants and party faithful to unite behind Tinubu to ensure victory for the party in the 2023 elections.
He said, “I congratulate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on his victory at our party primaries and his emergence as the presidential candidate and flagbearer of our great party, the APC[H1] , for the forthcoming 2023 presidential elections.
“For many decades, our flagbearer has shown passion, patriotism, courage and determination in the cause of nation-building. His sterling contributions to our democracy and its progress stand him out. His wealth of experience will certainly be critical in our party’s continued efforts to attain a more secure and prosperous Nigeria,” he said.
Osinbajo congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari and all leaders of the APC for a successful Special Convention and Presidential Primary, even as he urged party members, regardless of who they voted for at the primaries, to unite behind Tinubu in the 2023 elections.
On his part, Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi, in a message signed by him and made available to LEADERSHIP Friday, congratulated Tinubu on his victory and pledged to work with him and other candidates of the party to win in the 2023 general elections.
Umahi, who is the chairman of South East Governor’s Forum, assured Tinubu of the support of the Ebonyi State chapter of the party in the 2023 political journey.
He commended all the aspirants and the APC National Working Committee for the smooth conduct of a fair presidential primary election.
“I encourage the leaders and members of our party to come together to support the party for a victorious journey in the 2023 election,” he said.
Also, former Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 8th National Assembly, Hon Yakubu Dogara, in his congratulatory message, also appealed to those who lost the APC presidential ticket to join hands with Tinubu, especially Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and former minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, for the victory of APC in general elections.
In a statement issued by his media aide, Turaki Hassan, and made available to journalists in Bauchi yesterday, Dogara described the emergence of Tinubu as the beginning of good things to happen in Nigeria.
Yakubu Dogara stressed the need for a forming a formidable team around the presidential candidate of the ruling APC for the 2023 general elections.
“I urge all aspirants to close ranks and form a formidable force ahead of the 2023 general elections. This is the surest way to victory for the APC,” he said, describing Tinubu as a bridge builder with a very large political followership across the country.
Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade, in his congratulatory message, expressed an “unwavering optimism that this soldier of democracy who has seen it all will lead our great party to victory.”
In statement signed by his special adviser on media and publicity, Christian Ita, Professor Ayade assured the APC presidential candidate of his total support at the polls.
Extolling Tinubu’s sterling qualities, Ayade said: “Your Excellency, from your NADECO days to the ACN era and then to your immeasurable contribution to the formation of APC and its subsequent ascension to power, there is no doubt that you have laboured and sacrificed for democracy and its enthronement in our nation.
“I have an unwavering belief that as a soldier of democracy who has seen it all, you will lead the APC to seamless victory next year. Rest assured that as your look back, you will find me matching with you 100 per cent to the threshold of victory.”
We Didn’t Declare Tinubu ‘s Emergence National Calamity – Ohanaeze
Meanwhile, the national leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo has denied reports credited to it in some media describing the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the APC presidential candidate in the coming 2023 general election as a national calamity.
The national publicity secretary of the apex-Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Chief Chiedozie Ogbonnia, in a statement, further made it clear that Ohanaeze did not make any remarks concerning Tinubu’s health status.
He said though Ohanaeze Ndigbo has its reservations about the unfolding developments in the primaries of political parties as it relates to the country’s coming presidential election, the organisation is still understudying the developments and would make its position known in due course.
Ohanaeze expressed sadness over the statement, describing it as most irresponsible.
The statement read, “The attention of Ohanaeze Ndigbo has been drawn to a statement circulating in some sections of the media, attributed to our organization, describing the recent election of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu as a ‘national calamity, considering the enormity of the baggage he is burdened with’.
“The statement did not originate from Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide. We have no hands in the content, context, comprehension and delivery of the unfounded statement.
“Ohanaeze read the message with sadness and views its contents as unfortunate, especially the attacks in that statement on the person and health status of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”
He described the statement “as very unfortunate, irresponsible, diversionary and most reprehensible”.
It stated that the author of the statement is not the secretary general of Ohaneze Ndigbo. It gave the identity of its scribe as Ambassador Okay Emuchay, even as it added that Ohanaeze Ndigbo had no personal animosity against Tinubu to warrant such careless comments on his person.
It, however, expressed displeasure at the current political arrangement that seems orchestrated to exclude, marginalise and frustrate Ndigbo in a country they have worked hard to build.