Thursday, 1st June 2023

VP: APC still consulting as PDP screens Wike today

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Leo Sobechi, Adamu Abuh, John Akubo (Abuja) and Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna)
16 June 2022   |   4:30 am
Baring any last minute change, the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential standard bearer, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will today release the name of his running mate, 24 hours to the deadline set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).


• Ganduje, Masari, el-Rufai on the list
• Northwest favoured due to block votes amid Muslim/Muslim consideration
• Kalu justifies APC’s Muslim/Muslim ticket
• ACF ex-scribe, Sani warns parties, says Muslim-Muslim ticket recipe for crisis

Baring any last minute change, the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential standard bearer, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will today release the name of his running mate, 24 hours to the deadline set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The Guardian gathered from sources close to the party that Tinubu had been locked in a lengthy closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in a bid to untie the knot over the Muslim/Muslim ticket being promoted by some interested stakeholders.

The source disclosed that while the Muslim/Muslim controversy raged, some stakeholders made a case for a younger person to deputise the former Lagos State governor.

Insider sources last night told The Guardian that the pendulum may swing to the Northwest in the bid to harvest maximally from the chunk of votes from the region.

According to the source, Tinubu, who has settled for the Muslim/Muslim ticket in spite of all the antagonism, is likely to submit one of three names – Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State, Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State or Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State – to INEC as his running mate.

Giving vent to this new scenario, the Director-General of Ganduje’s Support Group, Suleiman Magaji, in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, said the APC National Working Committee (NWC) narrowed down the choice of Tinubu’s running mate on the basis of loyalty, commitment and infrastructural development.

The statement, however, acknowledged that the issue of religion played out eloquently during the selection process but noted that Nigerians were more interested in developmental stride rather than religious affairs.

While it was Kaduna governor, el-Rufai, who first sounded out the possibility of a Muslim-Muslim ticket, another insider source, yesterday, said the presidential flag bearer picked one Alhaji Kabir Masari from Katsina as his running mate.

Masari is of the Malumfashi/Kafur Constituency in Katsina State, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari. The vice presidential slot given to Masari, according to sources is a ‘holding ticket,’ as both Tinubu and his friends in the APC are still consulting widely for a suitable deputy.

It was gathered that Masari’s name would be changed for another Northern politician in a month’s time. The source said Masari would be holding the ticket in trust for another candidate to be announced by Tinubu as the party navigates through the challenges of choosing Tinubu’s deputy as deadline nears.

However, a NWC member confided in The Guardian that Tinubu has indeed settled for a dummy name called Ibrahim Masari, “but he is separate from the Katsina governor. Tinubu did that just to fulfill INEC’s requirement pending when he makes up his mind on his running mate.”

The decision comes as Nigerians debate the suitability, or otherwise, of the ruling party running with a Muslim/Muslim ticket even as ethnicity and religion become two big issues in the politics of 2023.

THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will today subject the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, to screening before his formal declaration as its vice presidential candidate.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, the party said the screening, which would hold at its national secretariat in Abuja, is in line with its electoral guidelines.

The screening would be conducted by an 11-member committee headed by a one-time Foreign Affairs Minister, Tom Ikimi. Other members of the committee are former governor of Kogi State, Idris I. Wada; former Aviation Minister, Osita Chidoka; Hon. Binta Bello and Mutiat Adedoja, among others.

The choice of Atiku’s running mate intensified when a committee headed by former National Security Adviser, Aliu Gusau, submitted names of three persons including Wike, the governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa and Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel.

After serious consultations, Atiku and his friends in the PDP constituted another 20-member committee to take a final decision on the choice of the vice presidential candidate. The Umar Damagum-led 20-man committee on Tuesday picked Wike after a voting exercise that ended 16-3 in favour of the Rivers governor.

Atiku will also today meet with governors of the party. The meeting is aimed at concluding plans on who emerges as his running mate.

A notice of the meeting was made public by the Secretariat of the PDP Governors’ Forum, signed by the Director-General, C.I.D. Maduagbanam. The notice said the meeting will start at the Legacy House in Abuja by 2:30p.m.

MEANWHILE, the Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, has justified the move by APC to field a Muslim-Muslim ticket at the 2023 presidential election. According to him, the paramount issue was for the APC to win the presidential election. He argued that it was not possible for a Southern minority Muslim and a Northern minority Christian to win a presidential election in Nigeria.

While speaking to the Senate Press Corps in Abuja, he said: “Do you want me to speak the truth? If I am Bola Tinubu, whose wife is a senior pastor at a Pentecostal Church, I will go for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.

“The most important thing is for the party to win. We should stop the issue of whether you put a Christian there or not. After all if we win, the wife is already a pastor. This is my own opinion, and you cannot deny me my opinion.”

But an Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) chieftain, Elder Anthony Sani, has warned political parties to reject the temptation of Muslim-Muslim ticket by presidential candidates to save Nigeria from crisis.

According to Sani, the immediate former Secretary General of ACF, any attempt to promote Muslim-Muslim ticket in the country will deepen the ethnic and religious cleavages, consequently, compromise the unity of the nation.

In a statement yesterday, he said “while politics of identity is not helpful because they tend to promote cleavages of the nation and supplant real issues of real concern to real Nigerians, I still do not think Muslim-Muslim ticket would help in uniting the nation at this point in time.

“More so that Muslim-Muslim ticket runs counter to the letter and spirit of provisions for federal character in the Constitution. It was that provision, which did not allow Tinubu to be running mate to President Buhari in 2015.”

Sani further added: “I believe it is the letter and spirit of federal character in the Constitution that prevents VP Atiku from picking a Northerner or Fulani Muslim as his running mate.”

Meanwhile, Northern youths, under the auspices of Arewa Youth Awareness Forum (AYAF) have said the consideration of Governor Wike will demonstrate Atiku’s determination to win the 2023 poll through strategic nationwide mobilisation for popular votes.

Besides, AYAF called on religious groups, particularly the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) to flout a political party with ideological direction in canvassing the mandate of the electorate, instead of their criticism of the existing parties.

In a statement issued by AYAF Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary General; Mohammed Sani-Kabir, Salihu Abdullrahaman and Ben Alege respectively, the group said the capacity to roll back poverty, insecurity, illiteracy and other vices matter than sentiments.

“The youths expressed their support for Wike as running mate to Atiku, whose numerous infrastructural projects in Rivers State have been commissioned by eminent persons across the federation, including our revered Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar. We urge religious leaders to allow political parties make their choices,” AYAF stated.