As national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, savours his victory at the presidential primary, the party is said to be in a dilemma over who to pick as his running mate for the 2023 election.
Various caucuses in the party are reportedly behind the push for eight names as likely preferred choice as running mate.
No fewer than six camps in the APC in the North are backing separate individuals, including serving and former state governors, as well as ex-ministers who played key roles at the conventions that produced the current APC national officers and the just-concluded presidential primary in Abuja.
The eight names that have so far emerged included a leading critic of the APC federal administration.
All the names that have been thrown up are Governors Babagana Zulum (Borno), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano) and Samuel Lalong (Plateau); former governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.
Zulum is reportedly being considered by the Progressives Governors as their likely choice, against the deal a source said Tinubu had with Shettima, the arrowhead of his campaign organisation ahead of the recent primary.
“The only drawback for Kashim Shettima is that he’s not Hausa/Fulani and that it will be the first time Hausa/ Fulani will not be represented in government. The same holds for Dogara, Boss, Lalong.
“Another source claimed that there is a strong push for Bishop Hassan Matthew Kukah who retires later this year to balance the ticket, in spite of his occasional acerbic views on the APC federal administration.”
Some said Tinubu’s emergence as APC candidate has been generating ripples, particularly in parts of the North, with leaders of the northern political establishment going back to the drawing board to re-strategise on the way to ensure that the interest of the North in the power locus is defended and preserved after the next general election in the country.
It was learnt that the power brokers have not ruled out the possibility of a Muslim-Muslim ticket for APC if it hopes to win the 2023 presidential election.
The Muslim-Muslim agenda is said to be the response of the Northern establishment to a raging campaign in the North that many prospective voters are threatening to vote against the APC if it fails to pick a Muslim from the North as running mate to Tinubu.
According to them, apart from one or two persons, APC lacks a figure in the mould of Atiku that can rally Christian politicians from the North to guarantee victory for the ruling party.
The source added: The APC is likely to fly a Muslim/Muslim ticket because some influential members of the northern establishment have insisted that they do not want a Christian vice president in the North.
“There’s no Christian who can match Kashim Shettima in the entire North. Dogara can’t win more than Tafawa Balewa Local Governnent Area in Bauchi State. The SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, is neither Hausa nor Fulani and can’t win in multi-ethnic Adamawa State.
“Lalong is neither Hausa nor Fulani stock, so the majority Hausa Fulani may not accept him. Let’s look at the turn of events, something tells me it will be a Muslim/ Muslim ticket.”
However, some influential members of the northern establishment are said to perceive Lalong “as not being part of them.”
He is seen as a member of the ethnic minorities who are spread across such states as Plateau, Benue, Kogi and Niger. Besides, Lalong, who is the current chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, is said not to enjoy the support of some camps of other presidential aspirants apart from that of former minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
He was accused of dodging other aspirants when they visited his state to lobby delegates to the primary.
Those pushing for el-Rufai to become running mate claimed that it was the key demand of delegates when Tinubu visited Kaduna to lobby them.
In their opinion, it was time for him to accede to the demand in order to keep the governor in Nigeria after his tenure ends in May next year.