The All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and his Peoples Democratic Party counterpart, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, began the search for their running mates on Wednesday.
In an interview with The Punch, the spokesman for the Tinubu Campaign Organisation, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, said the APC presidential candidate would meet the APC governors, whom he said would pick the former Lagos State governor’s running mate.
It was also gathered that Tinubu would meet party leaders, including the National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, before the end of the week.
As Tinubu began the search for his running mate, Atiku on Wednesday held a closed-door meeting with the PDP governors in Abuja with a view to picking the party’s vice-presidential candidate.
At the APC presidential primary, which started on Tuesday and was rounded off on Wednesday, Tinubu garnered 1,271 votes to clinch the party’s presidential ticket.
The Chairman of the Convention Election Management Committee, Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State, at the Eagle Square, Abuja, announced that a former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, got 316 votes; the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, 235 votes; a former Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, one vote; Senator Rochas Okorocha and Pastor Tunde Bakare got zero votes each.
On Monday, northern governors had insisted on a power shift to the South despite the national chairman’s endorsement of the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, from the North-East, as the party’s consensus candidate.
Tinubu, in his acceptance speech after his victory, said those who did not support him should not be afraid.
He further said, “Our teeming youth population is our nation’s greatest asset. We will create jobs for our youth from the Zamfara and Osun gold deposits to the vast agricultural lands across the country. We will create new opportunities in the Fintech sector, the creative and entertainment industries, digital skills and other areas.”
On Wednesday, there were strong indications that both Tinubu and Atiku had started searching for their running mates ahead of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s June 17 deadline to submit their candidates’ lists.
Onanuga, in an interview, stated that Tinubu already had an arrangement with the APC governors that if he emerged the candidate of the party, the governors would decide the person to pick.
According to him, Tinubu prefers a collective responsibility to doing it independently.
The spokesman stated, “The Vice-President can come from any region and religion. But the PGF is at liberty to pick. Up till now, we are all aware that Atiku has not chosen a VP. Yet, he was elected before him. But in our case, it is a party affair.
“The party leaders will look at the chances and decide how they will balance a Muslim from the South, maybe with somebody that comes from North- East, North-Central or from North-West. That is how it is done. I cannot circumvent the party. The Governor Atiku Bagudu-led PGF has the task to pick a competent deputy for him,” he said.
Asked when Tinubu might likely meet with the governors, Onanuga stressed that though a date had not been chosen, it would not take long.
“Already, he has a cordial relationship with virtually all of them. You will also have to understand that he has just picked the presidential ticket. I am also sure that this issue of picking the right candidate for VP will be in the minds of the party leadership and the APC governors too.
“At this moment, we just want to pause and take a rest from the stress of the just-concluded campaign.”
An aide of the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, who confided in The PUNCH, said that the presidential candidate would meet with northern governors in Abuja before the weekend.
The aide said, “The issue of the vice-presidential candidate has been settled even before the presidential primary. From all indications, things are moving according to plans while the elders from the North-West had suggested one of the popular and loyal party members as his deputy.”
The Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, said the running mate to the presidential candidate of the APC might come from the North-East geopolitical zone.
According to Ado-Doguwa, this is based on the current zoning arrangement of the APC.
Speaking on Politics Today, a current affairs program on Channels Television, a few hours after the presidential primary of the APC on Wednesday, Ado-Doguwa said the vice-presidential candidate might come from the North-East. At the same time, the ruling party’s leadership would deliberate on the religious factor.
When one of our correspondents contacted the APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, on the phone, he neither picked up the call nor responded to the SMS sent to him.
Meanwhile, Atiku and some APC governors have congratulated Tinubu on his emergence as the APC presidential candidate.
In a statement, the Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, said the former Lagos State Governor “has the capacity to provide the needed leadership that will consolidate and continue to ensure the country’s democratic gains.”
On their part, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, lauded Tinubu.
Gbajabiamila, in a statement by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi, described Tinubu as his mentor and dogged democrat.
In a separate statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Umar Puma, the Deputy Speaker described the primary that produced Tinubu as the APC’s candidate as one of the most transparent in the country.
The APC governorship candidate in Benue State, Rev. Fr Hyacinth Alia, in a statement by his media aide, Donald Kumun, said that Tinubu’s emergence followed through a democratic global best practice and expressed the confidence that Nigerians would vote massively for him.
The Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, commended the President, Major General Buhari (retd.), for producing a good successor.
AbdulRazaq, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, described the emergence of Tinubu as truly deserving.
Adamu on Tinubu
The APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, said the ‘overwhelming’ votes received by Tinubu showed that the APC had a nationalistic disposition.
Adamu’s view was contained in a statement issued by his media aide, Muhammed Lawal, in Abuja.
He stated, “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,” he said.
The Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, commended Buhari and other APC leaders for the smooth conduct of the primary.
Akeredolu, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Richard Olatunde, on Wednesday, stated, “The contest was a brotherly scramble. The aspirants and leaders of our great party must now leverage on our political strength to build the party and reposition it for even greater victory.”
A former Governor of Sokoto State, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, described the victory of Tinubu as well-deserved “considering Tinubu’s years of working for the entrenchment and strengthening of democracy in Nigeria.”
Wamakko said, “With Tinubu’s victory, the APC stands a good chance of retaining power in 2023, considering his years of contributions to Nigeria’s development. His emergence is a victory for democracy and Nigerians as a whole.”
Meanwhile, the campaign team of the Senate President has said Lawan did not take the comments of the APC presidential candidate personally “as he must have spoken based on the euphoria of the moment.”
Tinubu had during his acceptance speech taken a swipe at Lawan for contesting against him, stating that the Senate President could now lick his wounds.
Lawan’s campaign manager, Iyke Ekeoma, said, “What has happened has happened, and I am sure they know what to do amongst themselves in the party.
“The fact is that it is a party thing and Senator Lawan will work for the party and the Senate will work for the country. I don’t think they will take it personally.”
Atiku, on his Twitter handle, said, “Congratulations, @officialABAT on your emergence as your party’s presidential candidate. It has been a hard-fought contest, but that you prevailed confirms your tenacity. -AA.”
The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Eromosele Ebhomele, described the outcome of the poll as well-deserved.
Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, in a statement by his Director, Communications and Media Strategy, Ima Niboro, expressed optimism that Tinubu would emerge victorious in next year’s presidential election.
Also, the Gombe State Governor, Muhammadu Yahaya, lauded the process that produced Tinubu.
Through Ismaila Misilli, Director General, Press Affairs, Government House, Yahaya stressed that his victory was a manifestation of Tinubu’s years of personal commitment, sacrifice, tenacity, political experience, and service to the nation.
Ekiti State Governor Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who stepped down for Tinubu on Tuesday, said the victory was an indication of the former Lagos State governor’s dedication, competence, and capacity to lead Nigeria.
The APC senatorial candidate for Delta Central Senatorial District, Chief Ede Dafinone, also hailed the emergence of Tinubu as the presidential candidate of the party.
Dafinone, in a signed press statement, said, “Tinubu has the capacity to take Nigeria to the next level” if voted as the country’s President in the next political dispensation.
Meanwhile, the PDP governors have intensified moves on the selection of a running mate for Atiku.
After a closed-door meeting in Abuja, the governors told journalists that they were working to ensure the emergence of the right running mate and how to secure back power.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, said, “We talked about cooperation and collaboration in prosecuting a very successful electioneering that will result into victories for the PDP at the various elections from the state Houses of Assembly, national election, Governorship and the Presidential election come February 2023.”
A statement signed by the media aide to the governor, Muhammad Bello, said, without elaborating on the matter, that the governor told newsmen that the meeting deliberated on the choice of who will be Atiku’s running mate.
A Professor in the Department of Political Science, Lagos State University, Ojo, Sylvester Akhaine, explained, “The situation is quite complex right now. The nation’s diversity must be respected. He must navigate ingeniously the speculation about a Muslim-Muslim ticket. Religion, ethnicity, class, and then alliance must be considered.”
A lecturer at the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Caleb University, Imota, Lagos, Mr. Olugbenga Agboola, said, “We must put the diversity of this nation into consideration. He will have to consider a northerner and select from the core North, the person must also be a Christian. I know he is a master strategist and would have done his homework well on this.”