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Running mate: PDP to unveil Wike, Buhari parleys APC governors

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Adamu Abuh, Terhemba Daka, Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze (Abuja), Oluwaseun Akingboye (Akure) and Rauf Oyewole (Bauchi)
15 June 2022   |   4:30 am
As the waiting game continues 48 hours to the deadline given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for parties to submit names of their presidential candidates and running mates...

Wike. Photo/facebook/GovernorNyesomEzenwoWikeCON

• Ayu: PDP’ll announce Atiku’s running mate within 48 hours
• Selection committee votes 16-3 to pick Wike
• Coalition canvasses women, youths as running mates
• Kingibe suggests all Muslim three-man list to Tinubu for consideration
• APC groups push for Dogara
• Uzodimma: Tinubu will decide running mate, not governors
• CAN writes political parties, warns against fielding candidates from same religion
• Muslim-Muslim ticket, an insensitive, tacit endorsement of threat to nation’s unity, says Catholic Secretariat

As the waiting game continues 48 hours to the deadline given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for parties to submit names of their presidential candidates and running mates, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Iyiochia Ayu, has expressed confidence that the party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, will, today and tomorrow, present a running mate Nigerians will relate well with and vote into office.

Ayu gave this assurance, yesterday, in his opening remarks at a meeting with members of the consultative committee set up to assist Atiku choose a running mate.

He said: “The presidential candidate of our party would have been here, but this morning (yesterday), he suddenly dashed somewhere. He apologised and if he comes early, he will join us. But we will go ahead with the assignment he has given us.

“Our presidential candidate, this time, has decided to carry everybody along unlike 2019 when he didn’t consult widely in his choice of running mate.”

The meeting, which lasted into the night, had Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Aminu Tambuwal; Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed; Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom; former Senate President, David Mark; House Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu; former Ondo State governor, Olusegun Mimiko; former Cross River State governor, Liyel Imoke; former Niger State governor, Babangida Aliyu; former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido and Senator Philip Aduda, among others in attendance.

THE Southeast lost out in the battle to produce the running mate to Atiku, as the committee may have settled for Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.

The 20-member committee on Atiku’s running mate, it was gathered overwhelmingly endorsed Wike during a 16 to 3 vote in favour of Wike, who was runner up to Atiku in the presidential primary. The committee chairman, PDP deputy national chairman, Umaru Damagun, abstained from voting.

According to a source, the committee had earlier come up with three names for consideration – Wike, Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa and Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom State, before finally settling for Wike.

The source further disclosed that the committee voted for Wike, following his contributions to the development of the party. At the end of the meeting, each member “had to sign the final decision.”

MEANWHILE, presidential candidates have been urged to pick women and youths as their running mates in the 2023 election. The Conference of Civil Society of Nigeria, which made the call yesterday, also lamented the exclusion of women and youths from elective positions.

Addressing newsmen in Abuja, the Chairman, Comrade Adams Otakwu, noted that of all the political parties, none has a woman as presidential standard bearer.

Otakwu said: “Less than five per cent of gubernatorial candidates are women, less than 10 per cent of candidates for the National Assembly are women and less than 20 per cent of candidates for state parliaments are women. These figures fall far below the global average, were women hold about 23 per cent of seats in parliaments, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union data.

“Regrettably, these appalling statistics and extremely imbalanced ratio are unassertive of our commitment as a country to affirmative action and gender parity, especially when compared with countries like Rwanda, South Africa, Ethiopia, New Zealand, India and the Philippines with women figures playing prominent roles in their governments.

“We believe strongly that the presence of women in the next political dispensation will greatly shape the country’s destiny, make symbolic impact and deliver substantive reforms in our social, political and economic destiny, as demonstrated by some of our outstanding women like Hajya Amina Mohammed of the United Nations, and Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of the World Trade Organisation.

“It is against this background that we strongly advocate and call on all political parties participating in the 2023 general elections to adopt and field women and youths as running mates (at state and national levels) to gain massive support of women, youths.”

AS all eyes are trained on the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) today over the selection of a running mate to its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, amid agitation against moves to field a Muslim-Muslim ticket, it was gathered that former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babagana Kingibe, has forwarded three names to Tinubu for consideration.

Kingibe, who was running mate to the late MKO Abiola in the June 12, 1993 presidential election, was said to have forwarded the names to the Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu, for onward transmission to Tinubu for consideration.

The list has the names of Borno State governor, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum; the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina J. Mohammed and a liaison officer to the National Assembly during Olusegun Obasanjo’s first tenure, Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, for consideration. The trio are Muslims from the Northeast geopolitical zone.

A source close to the APC presidential candidate said they were shocked when the former SGF forwarded the names. “It is true that three names have been forwarded by Ambassador Babagana Kingibe for consideration for the office of the vice president,” he said.

According to the source, they were still trying to find out on what grounds Kingibe was nominating anyone.

“Even though he is reportedly part of the cabal, what is in the open is that they have a different candidate for the presidency who did not win. We are therefore appalled that he has nominated some people to Asiwaju considering that he is not holding any position. We suspect that he is not alone in the move,” the source said.

While the debate over Muslim-Muslim ticket rages, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, held a closed door meeting with APC governors at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, led his colleagues to the meeting, which held at a time the party was holding high-level consultations on the choice of running mate to Tinubu.

The parley was attended by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari; Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; Governors Babagana Zulum, Borno; Nasir el-Rufai, Kaduna; Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, Jigawa; Abdullahi Sule, Nasarawa; Simon Lalong, Plateau; Yahaya Bello, Kogi and Hope Uzodimma of Imo State.

Sources informed that Tinubu has penciled down the name of former Borno governor, Kashim Shettima, who played a critical role in his campaign, as his running mate. However, some elements of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) are said to be planning to approach President Buhari to recommend the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, or the Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, for the position of the vice president.

The Northeast APC mandate group has endorsed former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, as running mate to the party’s presidential flag bearer.

The group, led by Mohammed Nurudeen, urged party faithful from the North Central and Northeast geopolitical zones to cede Vice Presidency slot to the Northeast.

The group argued that it would be just and fair if the seat is further ceded to Bauchi State where Dogara hails from.
Another group, APC Youths Progressive Forum, yesterday, pushed for the emergence Dogara as Tinubu’s running mate. Leader of the forum, Ukkasha Hamza Rahama, said dropping Dogara, a Christian, for other running mates, would give Atiku a better chance.

GOVERNOR Hope Uzodinma has declared that the decision to choose a running mate lies with Tinubu and not with APC governors. Uzodinma spoke to newsmen after he met with President Buhari over his planned state visit to commission projects executed by Imo State government.

He said the party having held a successful convention, the choice of a running mate will take into considerations all the indices that will promote fairness and unity of the country.

On insinuations that APC was toying with the idea of a Muslim- Muslim ticket, he said there is no where in the Constitution of the country where religion is a factor as to who becomes the President or who becomes the running mate.

“But we are looking for a united Nigeria where governance will be the issue, where a president would be adjudged by his capacity to deliver democratic dividends, develop Nigeria to look like other parts of the Western world where democracy is working.

“I don’t want us to reduce governance in Nigeria to certain things that will encourage divisiveness, rather, we should be a united Nigeria, be our brother’s keepers, have a president of Nigeria that will be a president representing every tribe, every religion, every denomination. And when we get there, we will cross the bridge.

“The decision to choose a running mate does not reside with any of us the governors. It is the presidential candidate that will look at the local characteristics and every factors, political and apolitical, that will make him win his election and take the decision. So, it’s not a decision that we will sit here and take for the candidate.”

FOR the third time in a week, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) again warned against plunging the country into avoidable crisis with a Muslim-Muslim ticket when it wrote to all political parties to declare its disapproval of any plan by any political party to field candidates from same religion, whether Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian, for the 2023 presidential elections.

In a letter, which was made available to journalists yesterday in Abuja, CAN General Secretary, Joseph Daramola, who signed the letter, noted that the association recognised the exclusive right of political parties to choose their candidates for general elections but said such rights call for a deep sense of responsibility and accountability.

Daramola argued that, in exercising such rights, party members ought to be sensitive and promote the common good of the people, insisting that good politics is about promoting the common good, not only about promoting self-interest.

He said: “As servants of God, our responsibility is to watch carefully, pray intensely and speak truth about the workings of constitutional arrangements. And as umbrella body of Christians in Nigeria, we call on all the presidential candidates to choose men or women of alternative religion as their running mates. CAN will not accept any presidential ticket that is Christian-Christian or Muslim- Muslim.”

Daramola stated that though CAN is not a partisan organisation and does not involve itself with the process of partisan politics, it has a responsibility to defend the religious freedom of Nigerian citizens, whether Christians or not.

He said: “CAN has a responsibility to speak out and mobilise civic action against threats to the unity, peace and security of the Nigerian state.

“We, therefore, give notice to all political parties that we will protect the religious diversity of the Nigerian state and will mobilise politically against any party that sows the seed of religious conflict by presenting to Nigerians, a presidential ticket that is Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian.

“We will consider such action as a declaration of war against the freedom of religion, peace and security of the Nigerian state. We will, equally, consider such insensitive action as evidence of a deliberate action to plunge the country further into religious violence and extremism and destroy the foundations of the continuation of the Nigerian state.”

Also, the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) has warned that with the present glaring crisis and division in the country, a Muslim-Muslim ticket would be most insensitive and a tacit endorsement of the negative voices of many non-state actors who have been threatening this nation’s unity and peaceful coexistence without an arrest.

The CSN observed that ordinarily, there would have been nothing wrong with a Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket in a democratic dispensation if there is mutual trust and respect for the human person and where the overriding desire for seeking political office is the fostering of the common good but one cannot really say so of our country at the moment.

In a statement titled, ‘Towards 2023 Elections: Advancing the Path to Unity and Peace’, signed by the Secretary-General of CSN, Rev. Fr. Zacharia Nyantiso Samjumi and the Director, Social Communications, Rev. Fr. Michael Nsikak Umoh, the Secretariat recalled that only once did Nigeria have a Muslim-Muslim ticket in the 1993 democratic elections, which featured Abiola-Kingibe ticket and which turned out to be one of Nigeria’s freest and fairest elections, but that government never took off! 

CSN regretted that 30 years later, some individuals have tried to suggest the Muslim-Muslim ticket for the presidential election in a country like Nigeria that has unfortunately been badly polarised.

According to CSN, “going by the Kaduna experience, we can perceive the havoc the Muslim-Muslim ticket has brought upon the predominantly Christian people of Southern Kaduna.

“We therefore strongly advise those political parties toying with divisive agenda to have a rethink by presenting a more inclusive ticket, while calling on all people of goodwill to resist this budding injustice that may be hatched against a cross section of the people.

“In pursuit of peace, it is imperative to remind everyone that all Nigerians, irrespective of creed or region, are equal; as such, there must be sensitivity in the spread of political positions without compromising competence.”

Similarly, the Oodua Youth Parliament has called on the APC presidential candidate to pick a Northern Christian as his running mate. In a statement issued to journalists in Akure, yesterday, by the Speaker, Abdulmojeed Oyeniyi, they alleged that there is a conspiracy to sabotage Tinubu’s mandate, adding that picking a Christian running mate from the Northern part of the country will give him the needed victory.

He said: “Are they saying that the Northern Christians don’t have competent people? This dangerous plot against Tinubu must be stopped. Sadly, Kaduna State governor Nasir el-Rufai, in his characteristic manner, made very uncomplimentary remarks that suggest he wants to drag Nigeria into the same mess he created in Kaduna.”