There are strong indications that the All Progressives Congress may field a northern candidate that can compete with the Peoples Democratic Party if the opposition party picks its presidential standard-bearer from the North in 2023.
The PUNCH gathered on Monday that although the APC was interested in zoning its presidential ticket to the South, the outcome of the PDP’s presidential primary scheduled for May 28 and May 29 would determine its final decision.
It was also learnt that the chieftains of the party in the North had started shopping for a strong presidential candidate from the region if the PDP’s candidate is picked from the North.
The speculation that a northern candidate emerging at the presidential primary of the APC on May 30 have continued to rise due to the possibility of the opposition PDP to present a northern candidate.
Currently, the majority of the APC presidential aspirants including its national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo; the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi; the Ebonyi State Governor, Dr Dave Umahi and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, are from the South except a few like the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, who hails from the North-Central.
The APC’s National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, had in an interview with State House correspondents on Friday, said the party had yet to zone its presidential ticket.
But a member of the party’s National Working Committee, who confided in one of our correspondents, said, “The presidential ticket can go anywhere. In fact, we will get a strong northern candidate that can defeat the PDP if it zones its presidency to the North.”
Efforts to reach the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Felix Morka, were unsuccessful as he failed to answer the calls made to his phone.
But in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday, a founding member of the APC, Mr Osita Okechukwu, confirmed the possibility of a northerner emerging at the party’s presidential primary.
He said the party was fine-tuning its strategies on the 12 million vote bank of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The APC had in 2015 claimed that Buhari had strong support base in the core North, where 12 million voters, which the party referred to as the President’s 12 million vote bank, would always vote for him.
It added that the 12 million voters consistently supported him in 2007 and 2011. According to the party, the President won in 2015 with additional support from the South-West.
On Monday, Okechukwu said the APC had been watching with studied interest “the desperation of the PDP to prey on President Muhammadu Buhari’s 12 million vote bank.”
According to him, as a political party, the APC has to fine-tune its strategies for the general elections.
Okechukwu said that although it was doubtful that any politician in the PDP could sweep Buhari’s 12 million votes away, the PDP’s desperation to break into Buhari’s 12 million Vote Bank explained APC’s indecision.
He stated, “Although one is not holding the brief of our distinguished national Chairman, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, one’s little understanding is that the leadership of our great party is watching closely the desperation and antics of our elder sister political party, the PDP.
“They want to capture power by all means, indeed using Machiavellian tactics. We all know that PDP is famished, thirsty and desperate to win the Presidency in 2023. They loathe the loss of their slogan, ‘Share the Money’, through their absence from power at the centre for seven going to eight years.”