Barring last-minute changes, immediate past governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima, would be picked as running mate to All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, multiple sources privy to the various high-wire meetings on the issue, told Vanguard yesterday.
The sources said that the APC presidential candidate would do a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Asked about the chances of Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, who is a Christian, one of the sources said “some people are the ones toying with the idea. He (Tinubu) cannot run with Simon Lalong.’’
He added that some close allies of Tinubu believe that Shettima, who knew Tinubu’s ambition, should be a beneficiary.
When asked if Shettima’s choice was definite, the source said: “Nothing is concrete for now. His name was among those being mentioned. The others are not being mentioned the way Shettima is being mentioned.
“The likes of Boss Mustapha are also being mentioned. Shettima remains the top choice.”
This came as Chief Whip of the Senate and former Governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (APC, Abia North) said the best option for Tinubu is to pick a Muslim running mate to brighten his chances of winning the 2023 presidential poll.
Meanwhile, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has raised a panel headed by former Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi, to screen vice-presidential nominees led by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who on Tuesday was recommended for the slot by a selection committee of the party.
The Ikimi committee was set up by the National Working Committee, NWC, yesterday.
The screening panel which is scheduled to meet candidates today (Thursday) has former Kogi governor, Captain Idris Wada and former AviMinisternister, Osita Casska as members.
Others are Binta Bello, Mutiat Adedoja, Austin Opara, Aisha Madawaki, George Ologun, Chidiebelu Mofus, Fidelis Tapgun and Akilu Indabawa who will serve as secretary.
This was contained in a statement signed by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba.
He said the NWC set up the panel under Part V1, paragraph 14 of the Electoral Guidelines of the party.
Why Tinubu needs a Muslim running mate — Kalu
Arguing that the only option left for the APC presidential candidate is to go for a Muslim running mate for the 2023 presidential election, Orji Uzor Kalu told journalists in Abuja yesterday, that there was nothing wrong if Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu ran a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
According to him, it would be politically naive for Tinubu, a minority Muslim from the South-West, to choose a minority Christian from the North as his running mate.
He urged Christians to relax, disclosing that the wife of the APC presidential candidate, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, is a pastor in a renowned pentecostal church.
But Kalu, whose preferred presidential aspirant, Ahmad Lawan, lost the APC presidential primaries said that what was paramount was for the APC to win the presidential election in 2023, stressing that a Southern minority Muslim and a Northern minority Christian can’t win the presidential election in Nigeria.
Kalu said: “Do you want me to speak the truth? If I were in Ahmed Tinubu’s situation, the wife is a senior pastor in a Pentecostal Church; I will go for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“You can also play a Christian-Christian ticket, depending on the scenario, but if you don’t play a Muslim-Muslim ticket, we are in trouble. It will be most difficult to win the election because the only thing left for Ahmed Tinubu today is to play Muslim-Muslim.
“I know the Church I go to, the Catholic Secretariat might condemn it, that it is not good, but what is wrong with Muslim-Muslim? There is nothing wrong with Christian -Christian ticket also. It depends on the conditions we find ourselves in today that we cannot play two minorities.
Tinubu is a minority Muslim from the South, and if you pick a Christian from the North, it is a minority Christian, and you cannot play two minorities; it is difficult.”
Kalu, who also declared his intention to work towards the success of the APC presidential candidate in the 2023 elections, promised to replicate for Tinubu the same level of efforts he devoted towards the emergence of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan before and during the party’s primaries.
Senator Kalu who said the South-East will vote for Tinubu, expressed satisfaction over the conduct and outcome of the primaries, noting that although he had anticipated the party’s presidential flag bearer would emerge via consensus, he would however work towards the success of Bola Tinubu.
Speaking on the primaries, Kalu said: “I am very satisfied with the primary; without that kind of primary there could have been a lot of factions. Although my group was prepared for consensus, not a primary when it came suddenly we had to abide by it. So I’m very happy that in the end, APC won.
‘’The next is to work for the APC and to work for the APC candidate, we have no alternative. I’m a party man. Now, the way I fought for Lawan is the same way I’ll fight for Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”
ACF chieftain warns APC, Tinubu against Muslim-Muslim ticket
However, immediate past Secretary-General of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Anthony Sani, has called on the APC and its presidential candidate does not give in to the pressure of flying a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Sani who anchored his reason on the growing influence of religion in the nation’s political affairs, called for caution, stressing that divisions along ethnic and religious lines should not be further advanced as the nation prepares for a general election.
In a chat with Vanguard, Sani said: “Since Tinubu has vowed never to preside over a divided nation, a Muslim-Muslim ticket would be unhelpful in furthering his desire to unite the nation at this point and until such a time when Nigeria will become a confluence of politics, economics and morality, Muslim-Muslim and Christian-Christian ticket would not be helpful.”
He further argued that while politics of identity is not helpful because it tends to promote cleavages of the nation and supplant real issues of concern to well-meaning Nigerians “I still do not think Muslim-Muslim ticket would help in uniting the nation at this point, more so that Muslim-Muslim ticket runs counter to the letter and spirit of provisions of federal character in the constitution. It was that provision that did not allow Tinubu to be running mate to Buhari in 2015.
“I believe it is the letter and spirit of federal character in the Constitution that prevents former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar from picking a northerner or Fulani Muslim as his running mate. For the same reasons, Tinubu is not considering Southerner or Yoruba as his running mate.
And because religion is one of the major dividing lines alongside ethnicity and region; a Muslim-Muslim ticket would unwittingly provide ammunition for those who do not wish the nation well to cry against their preconceived allegations of Islamization agenda,” he added.
S-East in last-ditch effort, as PDP moves to screen Wike, others
In a last-ditch effort to push for a vice-presidential candidate from the South-East, supporters f the PDP from the zone, have started a subtle campaign to sway the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to pick a South-easterner.
Vanguard gathered in Abuja, yesterday, that Senator Iyorchia Ayu-led PDP NWC approved the recommendations of its panel saddled with the responsibility of assisting the party’s candidate to choose a running mate.
The panel had recommended three persons: Governors Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Nyesom Wike (Rivers), after which the Rivers State governor was said to have garnered 13 out of 17 votes to emerge as a top contender for the job.
It is being alleged that in an attempt to stop Wike, some of his opponents are said to be behind trending videos of his previous media interviews in which he vowed never to accept the position of vice president.
One of the party’s chieftains from Kogi State, Musa A. Musa, who is a proponent of a South-Easterner getting the job, had in making a case for the zone, said: “Since Atiku, a North-Easterner is our candidate, it is only logical that the vice-presidential position is micro-zoned to the South-East.”
He based his argument on the fact that the zone has not produced a president or vice president since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999 and that the zone has remained consistent in voting for the PDP.
Speaking in a similar vein, former Enugu State Governor and current Senator representing Enugu East in the Senate, Chimaroke Nnamani, said: “How can we (Ndigbo) be proud to belong to a union where we cannot aspire or be considered for top positions?
“If 2023 passes without the South-East being accommodated in the power arrangement, we would have to wait for the next 16 years and will be out of power reckoning for 40 years from 1999.”
However, a source in Atiku’s camp, said: “Contrary to what is making the rounds in the media, the candidate is expecting three names to be forwarded to him to pick one from. Yes, he reached out to the party to make recommendations but the final decision is his to make.”