THERE are strong indications that the North-East geopolitical zone of the country is being favoured to produce the running mate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Senator Bola Tinubu, to be announced this week.
At least four sources told reporters at the weekend that “two key factors”, voting strength and pattern, as well as the pedigree of those already being tipped for the slot were being considered before the final choice is unveiled by the candidate and his party shortly.
This is coming against the backdrop of claims to the search for a running mate has pitched the legacy parties in the APC over against one another following the outcome of the presidential primaries that produced its national leader as the standard-bearer.
It was gathered that the intense battle of wits over the slot and power-sharing is particularly between two main tendencies in the party as some power brokers in the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) caucus argue that it should fill the slot of vice president.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) gave till Friday this week for parties to submit the list of their candidates for the 2023 elections.
Prominent among APC stalwarts being mentioned for the slot of running mate include governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Zulum; ex-governor, Senator Kashim Shettima; business mogul and philanthropist, Dr Ibrahim Dauda Bello, who is also from the North-East, Borno State.
“Religious balancing may be downplayed in favour of election-winning strategy; that is, garnering more votes for APC in a Muslim-dominated zone where the likes of PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar and NNPP candidate, Dr Musa Kwankwaso are on the field. We will look for a candidate that can balance their dominance in terms of vote-attracting power.
“Remember in most critical situations, voting doesn’t necessarily follow religious line, and this explains why Pastor Tunde Bakare couldn’t find one Christian to vote for him in the last primary. Or do you think that we didn’t have more than 216 Christians among the delegates? The above was what the vice president who is also a pastor got in the last primary. Or are we implying that there are no Christians among the 1271 delegates that voted Tinubu in the primary election?
“What matters in the coming days and in 2023 is who can attract more votes and who is compatible with Tinubu himself.”
The CPC caucus is pushing that the slot of a running mate should be filled by one of its own since the ACN tendency produced Tinubu as a candidate for APC.
Meanwhile, some top government functionaries are reportedly backing Dauda Bello of the Kanuri ethnic group as a possible choice as Tinubu’s running mate.
The argument of his promoters is that being from the South-West, Tinubu would need a running mate from not just the North but the North-East in particular, because that zone has never produced a civilian president for the country.
Fifty-year-old Dauda had thrown his hat into the ring as a contestant for the APC presidential ticket but pulled back following signals that the president and the party would settle for a southerner as its standard-bearer.
Between 2003 and 2007, he had served in Buhari’s ANPP as the Plateau State Coordinator of The Buhari Organisations (TBO), a support group for the party’s Presidential Candidate and worked within the CPC founded by Buhari in 2009 as a vehicle to vie for the presidency in the April 2011 elections; Member, National Convention Committee in 2013, Executive of the National Registration and Membership Committee in 2013. Dauda served in 2014 as National Secretary of the Buhari Support Group Centre (BSGC) and National Coordinator of the Buhari Support Organisations (BSO).
There were speculations that some persons were also considering the possibility of the Deputy UN Secretary-General Amina Mohammed as running mate in tandem with the el-Rufai model in Kaduna.