As leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, are in a dilemma over the choice of a Vice Presidential candidate, some northern governors are pushing for a Muslim-Muslim ticket. Sources revealed that the governors are insisting that Tinubu selects either a serving or former governor from the core North as his running mate in order to get massive support against the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Tinubu was elected candidate of the party at APC special convention last week in Abuja. Northern governors of the party had massively supported his candidacy at the presidential primary, which enabled him to defeat other contestants, including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmad Lawan and former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, among others.
Saturday Sun gathered that northern governors are making overtures to Tinubu to pick one of them, which means the party would have a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“The northern governors are pushing him to make a choice from among them or former governors. In fact, that was why they worked against the consensus arrangement that could have produced a northern candidate. Had there been a consensus candidate, which was to have come from the North, none of the governors, either serving or former, would have benefitted from that arrangement. Knowing that a Southern candidate will make way for any of them to become vice president, they worked for that,” a source stated. Two governors being considered, Saturday Sun gathered, are Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna State and Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, governor of Kebbi State. Also being mentioned is Alhaji Kashim Shettima, former governor of Borno State.
It was learnt that while the Muslim-Muslim ticket looks tempting, the Tinubu camp is looking at the implications.
“Tinubu’s supporters know that although a Muslim-Muslim ticket could favour him, it would give the North something to refer to, if in future they decide to push for North-North ticket,” the source. A chieftain of APC, who spoke to Saturday Sun on the development, said that in fairness to those fronting members of the Governors Forum, judging by the critical roles they played in the emergence of the candidate, they actually deserve an offer of first refusal to bring the running mate.
He said: “One of the governors should actually be the most viable option for consideration as the running mate, but almost all of them are of the Islamic faith. The only one that is a Christian, the governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, may not have actually worked for Tinubu’s emergence.
“The governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, is one person any right-thinking person can route for, but it can only fly if our party has settled for a risky Muslim/Muslim joint ticket. Another governor who worked for Tinubu is Abduallahi Ganduje of Kano State. He can command the Kano voting population, but the same religious inclination will still be a serious factor. I am sure you heard Asiwaju pay glowing tribute to the Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, in his acceptance speech. One could safely conclude that he is also in consideration, but he falls into the same category like others.
The governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, could also be considered, but apart from the fact that he is a Muslim, it is doubtful if he actually worked for Asiwaju or Chibuike Amaechi,” the chieftain said on condition of anonymity.” A member of the national leadership of the party, who admitted the precarious situation facing the ruling in picking a running mate, argued that the party may sacrifice those primordial sentiments if they must shop for a running mate to withstand the Atiku threat.
According to him, “no matter the colouration you want to give it, we may be left with no option than to settle for a Muslim/Muslim joint ticket. You see, where we can get a serious and reliable Christian as running mate should be in the North Central.
“However, beyond the fact that our national chairman, Abdulahi Adamu is from that zone, going far north remains the most viable option for us. We need a political heavyweight from the North East especially, or North west to neutralise whatever force Atiku might provide.”
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has warned that a Muslim-Muslim ticket would not work in today’s Nigeria. CAN, in a statement by its General Secretary, Joseph Daramola advised Tinubu to pick a Christian running mate from the North, while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, should pick a Christian running mate from the south. CAN also advised Peter Obi of the Labour Party to choose a Muslim from the North as running mate.
CAN said: “Anything contrary means that the leadership of these political parties do not bother about the unity of Nigeria. And also, those who are planning a Muslim/Muslim ticket should find out the outcome of the MKO Abiola and Kingibe ticket in 1993”, warning that “if they try Muslim/Muslim ticket this time round, the outcome will be disastrous because our fault lines are very visible.”
The fears among the promoters of the Muslim-Muslim ticket is that only a core northern Muslim would guarantee massive votes among the predominantly Muslim population in the North, which could be decisive during elections.