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Running Mate: Tinubu Working on Options, Okowa, Wike Top PDP’s List, Obi, Kwankwaso Still Consulting

With deadline for the submission of names of presidential candidates and their running mates three days away, the leaderships of some of the main political parties – the ruling All

With deadline for the submission of names of presidential candidates and their running mates three days away, the leaderships of some of the main political parties – the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Labour Party (LP) and New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) – are already in some last minute consultations over the choice of their vice-presidential candidates which must be submitted to the electoral body by Friday

The parties had recently elected their presidential candidates, weeks apart at different locations and times.

PDP elected former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar at its presidential primaries held at the National Stadium some three weeks ago, the APC, last week, elected a former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, at its special convention, held at the Eagles Square; LP elected Obi its candidate in Asaba, Delta State, while Kwakwaso was elected NNPP candidate the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja.

However, while the APC is said to be considering a choice presidential running mate from the North East part of the country, being a part of the north yet to produce the nation’s president, the party remains divided on the vexed issue of religion. But party stalwarts concede, it remains the decision of the candidate even though some believe the candidate should depart from that venture.

At the same time, the PDP might have narrowed down its choice of candidate to between the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and his counterpart from Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, who also contested the PDP presidential primaries and came second. Interestingly, Wike has been lobby for the position, The PDP is expected to name its candidate anytime soon.

On their parts, Obi and Kwankwaso were allegedly still consulting, according to insiders, and this is in addition to the suspicion that both men might be considering working together, if things get to a head.

This, nonetheless, the National Peace Committee, led by a former Head of State, General Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd), who just turned 80 years, has expressed fear that the 2023 general election may not meet the expectations of Nigerians of a free, transparent and credible electoral process.

Thus, barring any further changes, while the vice-presidential candidates of both the PDP and the APC are likely to come from the South-south and the North East geopolitical zones respectively, those of Obi and Kwankwaso are not known yet.

A special committee set up by the stakeholders of the PDP, THISDAY gathered, had settled for Okowa and Wike.

National Vice Chairman of the PDP, South-south zone, Dan Orbih, Wike’ s man Friday, was said to be in the push for Wike to be nominated vice-presidential candidate from Rivers State.

But, he was allegedly being opposed by some stakeholders from the same zone, who argued that the Delta State governor, was not aligned during the campaigns, more so, that he had earlier yielded his senatorial seat in Delta north to a former member of the House of Representatives, Ned Nwoko.

Yet, the special committee has said its duty stopped at shortlisting credible and capable hands, but not to impose a candidate on Atiku.

“Ours is to recommend and not to impose a vice-presidential candidate on Atiku,” a source on the committee hinted.

The source said what had been going for Wike was his financial war chest that could support the Atiku campaigns, explaining that money would certainly play a vital role in the 2023 general election.

According to him, the two governors would be presented to Atiku Abubakar today for him to make his final choice and present to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party on Wednesday.

The source explained further that, “What we are doing is to ensure a hitch-free choice on Atiku and avoid what happened in 2019.”

Consequently, the committee has recommended that the office of the Senate President should be zoned to the North West, should the PDP win majority seats in the Senate at the general election.

Also, it recommended that the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives be zoned to the South East, if the PDP wins majority seats in the lower chamber.

Further to the recommendations, top ministerial positions should be reserved for either of the two governors short-listed for the vice-presidential slot, depending on who between the two Atiku Abubakar settles for as his running mate.

In the APC, multiple sources in the party said, Tinubu has asked for more time to choose his running mate, even though some APC leaders were said to be keen on the party’s position on religion.

THISDAY gathered yesterday that the APC governors and other relevant stakeholders agreed that Tinubu’s running mate should come from the North East, but not certain, if it would be a Muslim-Muslim ticket or Muslim-Christian ticket.

“The views of the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam el-Rufai for a Muslim Muslim presidential ticket as was the case in Kaduna State is a recipe for crisis in a modern Nigeria. That it happened in the days of Chief MKO Abiola with Babagana Kingibe does not mean that it can happen in the present day Nigeria,” a staunch party source said.

The source further explained that the Christian stakeholders of APC from the North East have capable hands in the persons of the Secretary to the Government of Federation, Boss Mustapha, who is from Adamawa State.

Conversely, he noted further that, “Boss Mustapha is a Christian and worships with the Redeem Christian Church of God (RCCG) and there is also the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara from Bauchi State.”

The source stated that the governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, is from the North Central, where the party’s National Chairman, Senator Adamu Abdullahi, is from and therefore, automatically ruled him out.

In the same manner, the source said if the APC maintained its majority in the National Assembly, the Senate President is expected to come from the South East and the North West to produce the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The source, however, reiterated that the North Central has been ruled out, because of Adamu.

APC National Stakeholders Kick Against Muslim-Muslim Ticket

The APC National Stakeholders have kicked against the purported Muslim-Muslim ticket being mulled by the party leadership.

The Convener, Mr. Aliyu Audu, while addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, said the country was deeply divided within the fault lines of ethnicity and religion, saying the ruling party could not afford to jettison those sensibilities in critical decision-making.

Against this background, the group noted that APC must be guided by such sensibilities in the selection of its vice-presidential candidate, even as it recalled that the unity of the country was put to test a few weeks ago, when certain interests were divided as to which of the regions between the north and the south should produce the next president of Nigeria.

While noting that some interests wanted the north to pick the ticket, others advocated that the APC should pick her standard bearer from the south in the spirit of nationalism, justice and fairness.

It stressed that while the debate raged, governors and leaders of thoughts from the northern region heeded the call for a southern presidency by declaring their support and also stood their ground.

The group pointed out that with their insistence and strong support, a southern candidate in the person of Senator Bola Tinubu, emerged as the candidate of the APC, and therefore, commended members of the Northern Governors’ Forum, who ensured that it came to pass, by proving themselves to be true heroes of democracy.

It noted that having successfully crossed the hurdle of producing a presidential candidate from the southern region, the bone of contention now lies in which of the two dominant faiths would produce the vice-presidential candidate.

“There have been arguments that vice-presidential candidate, which is primed to come from the north must be of the Christian faith, while some others have argued that for the APC to stand the chance of winning the 2023 presidential election, the vice must be a Christian, since the South has already produced a Muslim as the Presidential candidate.

“APC National Stakeholders is deeply concerned about the raging controversy, which has heated the polity in the last few days. While we are conscious of the fact that religion should not be a determining factor in the our leadership selection process, the peculiar circumstance the nation found herself calls for reflection in the decisions we take, so long as they bother on our national lives.”

The group insisted that northern APC has in its fold capable individuals from the Christian faith with proven track record that could deliver just like anyone from the other faith and called on the party to narrow its search for the vice-presidential candidate of the party to a northern Christian, saying doing this would ensure national inclusion, help to manage our differences and promote national unity.

Wike Best Option to Atiku, Says Arewa Youths Advocate

As the search for a presidential running mate to the candidate of the opposition PDP, Atiku Abubakar, thickens, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has been identified as the best choice for the number two office considering his acceptability across the country.

The assertion was made by a political pressure group, Arewa Youth Advocates For Peace and Unity Initiatives, in a press release signed by its National President, Sani Mohammed, copies of which was made available to journalists in Bauchi, on Monday.

The group stated that, “We deem it fit to be partners of progress, peace building agents to ensure that youths are fully and adequately sensitised through media Platforms, to further ensure that youths contributes positively to the development of our only country Nigeria, for peaceful elections come 2023.

“It is on this premise, that after an extensive consultations within different youths groups and relevant stakeholders in the North, and the conduct of opinion polls using different online platforms/ physical methods on Atiku/Wike Presidency 2023, the results proved successful and the ticket will give PDP decisive victory.

“Furthermore, as the presidential candidate and former Vice-President of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar GCON intensifies search for his running mate in the forthcoming presidential election, he should put it at the back of his mind especially, now that he is leading a unifying campaign that Nigeria is ethnically heterogeneous and culturally pluralistic.

“The Political practice has since 1979 is either a president from the North and Vice President from the South or otherwise. Atiku Abubakar, a Northerner will be considering different names as a choice of his running mate, though it is his sole responsibility, but demography and other factors should guide him to avoid mistakes of the past.

“However, there are many eminently qualified Nigerians from the South to be nominated as Atiku’s running mate but as it stands, Rivers State Governor, Barrister Nyeson Wike, stands as one among many to complement the PDP ticket to ensure Victory,” the group posited.

Abdulsalami Peace Committee Doubts Credible Poll in 2023

The National Peace Committee led by a former Head of State, General Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd), has expressed fear that the forthcoming 2023 general election could meet the expectations of Nigerians for a free, transparent and credible electoral process.

The committee’s reservations came just as it urged all the people taking part in the Ekiti State governorship election to follow due process and conduct themselves with civility and patriotism.

The NPC also said a peace accord would be signed by the various political parties and stakeholders on Wednesday, at the Amazing Grace Events Hall, Ikokun, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State.

In a statement signed by the former Head of State, the peace committee said, “judging from the experience at the recent party primaries, where politicians monetised the entire process, the hope of ordinary Nigerians that their interest and aspirations will be reflected in the outcome of the 2023 general election may be lost

“We are aware that the 2023 election may not be the best – as can be attested to by the monetisation of the process, the acrimonious conduct of the recent party primaries, and the elevation of the ‘delegate position’ over and above the welfare of ordinary Nigerians,” the committee said.

On the forthcoming governorship election in Ekiti State, the Peace Committee urged the contenders to follow due process, conduct themselves with civility and patriotism, even as it advised the youths not to make themselves pawns in the chessboard of the political class

“They should not take the laws into their hands – no matter the grievances they may hold against individuals, against the state, or against electoral bodies or security agencies.

“The youths must realise that the security, stability, and future of Nigeria remains their common patrimony. They must make themselves available to become ambassadors of peace, retaining hope in Nigeria and support the democratic process in Ekiti State, and Nigeria in general,” it said.

Similarly, the committee said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and the political candidates in the Ekiti governorship elections should know that the eyes of Nigerians, and indeed the world, were on them.

“The conduct and peaceful outcome of the Ekiti State off-cycle elections will put to test all the claims of reforms and strategic policy implementations of the last four years.

“We expect that a level playing field should be provided for all contestants – irrespective of the party under which they are contesting. We call on INEC and the security agencies not only to be non-partisan in the discharge of their duties but also to be seen to be so,” it added.

CAN Youths Advise Tinubu to Pick Northern Christian as Running mate

The youth wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has advised the presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to pick a Christian northerner as a running mate.

The group gave the advice at a press conference in Abuja on Monday.

Speaking at the press conference, National Chairman of the association, Belusochukwu Enwere, said in a country like Nigeria, it would be unfair to field a Christian/Christian or a Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket, adding that the idea of a Muslim/Muslim ticket was a slap on Christiandom.

“The call for a Muslim-Muslim ticket by certain individuals is callous and deceptive, a move with a sinister agenda. It is a true definition of bigotry. It is a slap on the entire Christiandom; a ploy to distabilise the nation.

“This is an insult; it devalues and dehumanises millions of Christians. Any political party that fields a Muslim /Muslim ticket or Christian/Christian ticket should know that it will lose the election,” the group stated.

It added that it would amount to unholy action to insinuate that there was no competent Northern Christian that could be in a position of trust.

“Does it imply that northern Christians are not regarded as northerners?” the Christian group, asked, adding that for the unity and togetherness of the country, the north should support a Christian as vice-presidential candidate to Tinubu.

“If we claim that we are together and the north is united – as the northerners make us to believe, then, they should have no reason to reject a northerner because he or she is a Christian.

“There is no other time better than for northern brothers to prove to us that they are one. In the spirit of ethno-religious balancing and to foster integration and national unity amongst all tribes and religion, Nigeria needs oneness and togetherness,” the group explained.

Insecurity May Affect 2023 Elections, Group Warns

The Campaign for Democracy (CD), a human rights advocacy in Niger State, has expressed fears that the insecurity situation in parts of the state and the country, if not checked, could impede the smooth conduct of the 2023 general election.

Chairman of CD in the state, Abdullahi Jabi, said in Minna at the event to mark this year’s Democracy Day that fears of attacks by insurgents could also lead to voter apathy.

“CD wants to say emphatically that in the area of security, Nigerians are passing through turbulent times with security challenges, food insecurity, disruption of goods, socio-economic challenges, poverty and hunger.

“It is my opinion that insecurity if not properly checked and addressed by the Federal Government of Nigeria, it may likely affect the conduct of the 2023 general election due to voter apathy and massive migration of people to safer areas to avoid danger and risks to their lives,” Jabi declared.

He, however, counseled INEC to ensure it provides peaceful environment and build the confidence of the electorate for them to participate in the election.

Chairman of the occasion and Board of Trustees Chairman of CD, North Central Zone, Mr. Murtala Ibrahim Agboola, in an address congratulated all the registered political parties for the peaceful conduct of their primaries, especially, the presidential primaries.

This, he said showed that, “our democracy is maturing and on course.”

Agboola appealed to politicians and party members to, as the nation approaches the 2023 general election, go about their campaigns and debates with decorum, devoid of character assassination and mudslinging.

Chuks Okocha, Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja, and Segun Awofadeji in Bauch

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