The decision made by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 election, in picking former Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, as his running mate has not gone down well with Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State.
Credible sources in the party on Monday informed Daily Independent that the APC leadership is trying to manage the issue so that it won’t blow open like that of the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, is currently at loggerheads with Atiku Abubakar, the party’s presidential candidate, who announced Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta State governor, as his running mate.
Although the committee saddled with the task of picking the party’s vice presidential candidate, consisting of representatives of former governors, incumbent governors, the NWC and the Board of Trustees members agreed to allow Wike, who came second in the presidential primaries to run with Atiku, the former vice president ignored the recommendation and announced Okowa as his running mate.
Sources in the party said Atiku rejected Wike based on the fact that he was a direct opponent against him in the presidential primary and the fact that he (Wike) has always been antagonistic to him.
In the case of the APC, the list of potential running mates was narrowed to el-Rufai from the North-West and Shettima from the North-East. While many had thought Tinubu will settle for el-Rufai, the former Lagos State governor announced Shettima.
It was gathered that the northern APC governors had agreed that based on the role they played in his emergence as APC flagbearer, especially the communique they issued declaring support for power shift to South, Tinubu should pick one of them as his running mate.
Daily Independent also learnt from informed sources that Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, who is the chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, was penciled down if Tinubu decides to fly a Muslim-Christian ticket.
But when it was obvious that he wanted a fellow Muslim as his running mate, Shettima and el-Rufai were shortlisted and without consulting with the governors, Tinubu opted for the former Borno governor who is one of his staunch loyalists.
Despite the development, the governors managed to keep their grievances from public glare and turned up in Osun last week for the grand finale of the party’s governorship campaign. Its candidate, Gboyega Oyetola, lost to the PDP candidate, Ademola Adeleke.
“The same situation in PDP is currently playing out in the APC. Governor el-Rufai is very embittered about the decision made by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Emissaries have been sent to him but he rebuffed them.
He turned up for the governorship campaign in Osun last week because he has no issues with his colleague, Oyetola.
But definitely, he is angry with Tinubu. “El-Rufai also enjoyed the sympathy of some APC governors, especially those in the North as they have always insisted that for supporting Tinubu in the primary, he must pick one of them as his running mate.
Announcing Shettima, a former governor, as his choice without consulting with the governors was seen as an affront by the APC governors who are major stakeholders in the party”, our source said.
When contacted, an associate of Tinubu said there was no way he could work with el-Rufai as he had always attacked him in the past. “People have short memories in this country.
How on earth can Asiwaju and el-Rufai pair together? Have you forgotten how he attacked Asiwaju and humiliated him in the past? How many people stiller membered in May 2019 when el-Rufai came to Lagos and said Tinubu should be retired from Lagos politics? “He boasted that he ended god father ism in Kaduna and he can teach Lagosians how to do the same in Lagos. Aside that, he has made several denigrating remarks about Asiwaju in the past.
“El-Rufai is one of those who cause a wedge in the relationship of Asiwaju and Mr. President especially during the first term. How can he choose that man to be his deputy? It is practically impossible”.