By Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon, Henry Umoru, Omeiza Ajayi, Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo & Luminous Jannamike, LAGOS
The races for the vice-presidential slots of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are taking definite shape.
“If APC governors were to decide, they will pick from the North-West; it will be Badaru, who stepped down for the presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, at the presidential primaries.
The source added that if those opposed to the Muslim-Muslim ticket succeed, Simon Lalong would be in line for consideration.
This came as the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN; Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN; an Arewa Coalition; and APC national stakeholders cautioned the APC against fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
In the PDP, sources said that despite the strong claim being made by the South-East, the battle is panning out as a straight one between Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who came second at the primaries; and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, who was a member of the committee that conducted the PDP primaries.
Both states have deep pockets and a huge voting population in the South-South zone.
Those pushing for the PDP presidential running mate to come from the South-East zone argued that the PDP would be toying with millions of Igbo votes across the country if it sustains its alleged maltreatment of the South-East by denying it the vice presidency slot.
Also, the Labour Party, LP, Candidate, Mr Peter Obi; and his New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, counterpart, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, are said to be working towards an accord, where both parties will present a joint ticket for the 2023 presidential poll.
APC shuttles between Lalong Shettima
Strong indications have emerged that the APC hierarchy is looking in the direction of the North-East for Asiwaju Tinubu’s running mate.
Sources said that most APC governors and other stakeholders had agreed that the North-East should produce the vice-presidential candidate of the party.
According to one of the sources, the leaders want the North-East, especially Borno State to produce the vice-president in 2023 against the backdrop that the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan from Yobe State, North-East, did not get the APC presidential ticket after losing to Tinubu.
The source also disclosed that Tinubu may conclude consultations with the party’s stakeholders, including governors, today, and announce his running mate on or before Thursday.
According to a source, the party is also looking the way of Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State in the North-Central, who is a Christian in case the Muslim-Muslim ticket does not fly.
The opinion of the leaders is that the North-West produced late former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua from Katsina and the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari also from Katsina and former Vice President Namadi Sambo from Kaduna State.
Muslim-Muslim ticket fuel more division — APC national stakeholders
A group of party men and women under the aegis of APC National Stakeholders has kicked against moves by a section of the APC to field a Muslim-Muslim ticket, saying it will fuel more division in the country.
This was as APC stakeholders from the North-East urged the party to cede the vice-presidential slot to the geopolitical zone to neutralize the threat posed by the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
On its part, professionals in the APC have described as acceptable, the processes leading to the emergence of Tinubu at the recently-concluded Special Convention and Presidential Primary of the party, saying it was time professionals were appointed into positions of governance.
The APC National Stakeholders said they are deeply concerned about the raging controversy which has heated the polity in the last few days.
In a communique read by Engr. Aliyu Audu at the end of its meeting, the stakeholders said: “While we are conscious of the fact that religion should not be a determining factor in our leadership selection process, the peculiar circumstance the nation finds herself calls for reflection in the decisions we take, so long as they bother on our national lives.
“Today, the country is deeply divided along our fault lines of ethnicity and religion and we cannot afford to jettison these sensibilities in critical decision-making. This is why we think that the APC must be guided by the sense of these sensibilities in the selection of the vice-presidential candidate of the party. To do otherwise would be to further fuel what divides us and give room for mischief makers to take advantage of our differences.
“Nigeria is in dire need of good governance and this can come from either a Muslim leader or a Christian leader but in the spirit of nationalism, justice and fairness which the northern governors demonstrated a few days ago, the leaders of the North on whose shoulder the emergence of the vice-presidential candidate rests must also demonstrate this spirit by ensuring that the candidate comes from the Christian faith.
“The Northern APC has in its fold capable individuals from the Christian faith with proven track records that can deliver just like anyone from the other faith. Their capability to deliver on the ideals of the party aside, they also can win elections for the party. Suffice to add that no individual wins elections for any political party, it is the collective of all and we are sure the APC can achieve this.
“The APC National Stakeholders, therefore, call on the APC to narrow her search of the Vice Presidential candidate of the party to a northern Christian whom we have in abundance. Doing this will ensure national inclusion, help to manage our differences and promote national unity,” the stakeholders stated.
N’East wants VP slot
On its part, the North-East APC Youth Stakeholders Forum, through its Chairman, Haruna Sardauna, said the zone has continually given bloc votes to the APC and supported candidates from other regions right from inception.
The forum said, “looking at the current pathetic situation that the region is faced with due to insurgency and other social unrest, zoning the position of the Vice President to the North-East will neutralise the PDP presidential candidate and mobilise massive support from the region and other zones to ensure victory for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”
Also, Chairman, Board of Trustees of the APC Professionals Forum, Dr Nkem Okeke, immediate past deputy governor of Anambra State, said the forum endorsed the democratic and transparent processes that produced Asiwaju Tinubu as APC’s presidential candidate and is willing to mobilise all professionals in the party to ensure that the winning streak that began in 2015 continues next year.
He said: “The Forum pledges our 100 per cent support and commitment to massively mobilize for our candidate in the run-up to the 2023 Presidential election. We urge our flag bearer to prioritize the roles and inclusion of professionals in his campaign strategy.”
Pick Lalong, Muslim-Muslim ticket create a crisis, Arewa Coalition tells APC
Also, the Coalition of Arewa Forum For Good Governance, CAFGG, warned that any attempt by the APC to consider a Muslim-Muslim ticket will create a crisis across the country.
According to the group, ahead of the forthcoming 2023 presidential elections, the current tension stirred up by the rumours of a possible Muslim-Muslim ticket is uncalled for and should be jettisoned in the interest of equity, justice and fairness.
“To douse the tension, we are calling on the winner of the APC primaries and flag-bearer, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to pick the only Northern Christian governor in the party, Mr Simon Bako Lalong as his running mate,” the group said in a press statement by its Co-ordinator, Malam Garba Yunusa.
It said: “Nigerians are not unaware that Tinubu is a Muslim from the South-West geo-political zone. Thus we feel it would be rational for a northern Christian, especially from the marginalized North-Central geo-political zone to be a running mate, who can also take care of the interest of the minorities. We strongly believe that once a Christian is picked, the warning and threats by the Christian Association of Nigeria would have been taken care of too.”