President Muhammadu Buhari will not impose a running mate on Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), even though he is not in support of the party parading a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket in the 2023 general elections, Daily Independent has gathered.
The party is expected to name its running mate who is expected to be from the Northern part of the country between today and Thursday.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which has fixed June 17, as the deadline for the submission of candidates for the 2023 elections also said there will be no extension of the deadline.
Daily Independent had earlier reported that some members of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), one of the legacy parties that merged to form the APC, are insisting that it is their turn to produce the running mate.
Their argument was that when Buhari was elected as the APC’s presidential candidate in December 2014, the vice presidential slot was ceded to Tinubu’s Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
To this end, they recommended Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna and the Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, for the position.
However, a presidency source, who spoke with Daily Independent on Tuesday, said just like in 2014 when he rejected the choice of Tinubu, a Muslim, as his running mate, the president still believes that a Muslim-Muslim ticket may spell doom for the APC especially with the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), parading a Muslim-Christian ticket.
“One thing is clear, the president can interfere as the leader of the party but he won’t impose any running mate on Tinubu just like he did during the presidential primary where he was neutral.
It is Tinubu that is seeking the presidency and as such knows what is good for him and who can help him secure the needed votes to win the elections”, the source said.
The president on Wednesday held a closed door meeting with APC governors at the Presidential Villa in Abuja as deliberations continue on the choice of running mate to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the party’s presidential candidate.
Already, many prominent Nigerians, APC stakeholders and groups, especially the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) have publicly condemned and started mobilising their members against any party that parades a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“The president still believes that just like in the 2015 presidential election, the APC fielding two Muslims as presidential and vice presidential candidates may not augur well for the party.
The opposition might latch on to that to get the support of the Christian community”, our source said.
Those in support of Muslim- Muslim ticket in APC had claimed that the party does not have strong, popular Northern Christian candidates that can get votes in the region for APC during the election.
However, those against the idea have pushed forward names of Northern Christians such as Governor Simon Lalong and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, and Yakubu Dogara, former Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Speaking with Daily Independent, a party chieftain opposed to the Muslim-Muslim ticket said the APC has enough Christians in the North to field as Tinubu’s running mate.
“Their argument that APC does not have strong Northern Christians does not hold water.
How popular was Osinbajo when he was nominated and presented to Buhari as running mate in 2014?
“We have people like Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State who is the Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum. Is he not a popular party man?
“What about Boss Mustapha, the SGF, who was Adamawa State chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) as far back as 1990?
“With Mustapha as Tinubu’s running mate, the APC will win because he balances the ticket and his nomination will give Christians a sense of belonging and it will also make Northern Christians comfortable in their own zone.
“A man like Mustapha brings complementary experience, capacity, exposure and maturity to the ticket. He would help to stabilise the administration from day one”, he said.
Tinubu is said to have penciled down former governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shetimma, as his running mate though that has not been confirmed.
Also on Wednesday, the presidency has said President Buhari takes his own decisions and carries them out without the backup of a so-called “cabal” or back room boys.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement titled ‘President’s Laudatory Role in the APC Primary’ amid reports about the actions of people around President Buhari during the period.
The statement read: “The media are being inundated with made up stories– speculating about the role of the president in the flagbearer contest: whether he had a favoured candidate, and whether manoeuvres were made to install them; whether the chosen flag bearer was the president’s choice, or another. And on and on.
“Speculation is easy. But facts are simple. The president always said he had a favoured candidate. He said that candidate was whoever was chosen by the APC in a democratic primary to lead the party at the election.
“Those still assailing the APC and the president expounding conspiracy theories and making all manner of speculations about who did what or did not need to understand the important point about the country’s leader: President Buhari takes his own decisions and carries them out without the backup of a so-called “cabal” or back room boys. The strong leader myth in Nigeria has lasted far too long.
“People make assumptions that if you are a leader, you dominate everything, and even determine electoral outcomes.
“Luckily for Nigeria, President Buhari does not suffer from such constraints. He refuses to act as the elected autocrat.”