By Lateef Adegbite
When Abdullahi Gandunje, governor of Kano state, revealed that Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state, and the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, Presidential Candidate, would pick a northern Muslim as his running mate for the 2023, general elections, people dismissed
it with a wave of hand.
This is because between 1979 and the return of Democracy in 199, no past Electoral Commission or the current Independent Electoral Commission , INEC, registered Political Party, Presidential Candidate , had chosen a running mate of the same religion.
Even, President Muhammadu Buhari, who many thought could do that because of his antecedents in 2015, changed his mind at the last minute to pick Yemi Osinbajo, a Professor of Law, as his Vice Presidential Candidate in the 2015 and 2019, general elections on the recommendations of Tinubu who was said to have turned the position when he was approached by the Katsina state born Nigerian President.
After the APC Presidential primary on June 8, 2022, the former Lagos state governor had travelled to France on Vacation to avoid undue pressure on him to take into consideration the country’s diverse religious Faith in the selection of his Vice Presidential Candidate and select a northern Christian as his vice Presidential Candidate. He alluded much to this when he said to pick a Christian running mate to please the Christian community or a Muslim o win the Musim votes. But he had said that he was concerned about the religious Faith of the individual who would serve as his running mate for the 2023, general elections but’’ about the Candidate’s competence, exposure and intellectual debt’’.
Many believe that from the onset he had zeroed his mind to pick a fellow Muslim as his Vice Presidential Candidate when he selected Aminu Bello Masari, a former Speaker of House of Representatives and now governor of Katsina , Buhari home state. It was therefore not very surprising that when he resigned as place holder of the running position of the APC presidential Candidate he did not hesitate in announcing Senator Kashim Shettima, a former governor of Borno state, after due consultation as his running mate for the 2023, general elections.
Note that the Katsina tate governor announced his resignation in a Statement on Sunday, July 10, 2022, shortly before the APC Presidential Candiate announced Senator Shettima, from the north east state of Borno, home of the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram and the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, now being exported to other parts of Nigeria, baptized in different names, to wreck havoc
In stepping down for Shettima, as Tinubu’s running mate, the Katsina state governor whose second term in office would elapse on May 29, 2023, had said that he is still available ‘’to serve the party and the country in several other capacities if the APC is returned to power after the 2023, general elections’’.
Recall that Tinubu, had taken advantage of his Sallah visit to the Katsina stat born Nigerian President in Daura, his home town on Friday July 8, 2022, to inform him of his choice of Senator Shettima, as his running mate in a closed door meeting. He had described the Senator Shettima as ‘’competent, capable, reliable and able to be picked as a running mate’’.
Until he finally zeroed his mind on Senator Shettima, there were speculations making the rounds that he was faced with the option of picking either Shettima, the former governor of the north east state of Borno or Babagana Zulum, a Professor and incumbent governor of the state.
Another school of thought even had it that he was also face with the option of selecting Nsair El-Rufai, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory,FCT, during Obasanjor’s Administration, and now governor of Kaduna state. However, he settled for Settled for Senator Shettima.
The APC Presidential may have played into the hands of those in the Christian faith for not respecting the country’s diverse religion in picking his running mate from the Muslim Faith which is his own religion. But the former Lagos state governor had told those that cares to listen that it was not intended to spite the Christians, noting that he was not ‘’oblivious of the religious and ethnic sensitivities of the nation’’ but made ‘’the choice in the overriding interest of the country’’.
He further disclosed that he was mindful of the energetic discourse concerning the possible religion of his running mate. Hear him: Just and noble people have talked to me about this. Some have counseled me that I should select a Christian to please the Christian Community while others said should pick a Muslim running mate to appeal to the Muslim community.
In spit of the criticisms of the APC , Muslim –Muslim Presidential ticket for the 2023 general elections, Festus Keyamo, a Legal Luminary and minister of State, Labour and Employment, has described the former Borno state governor as a ‘’worthy choice of a running mate for Tinubu’’.
The Edo state born politician had described Senator Shettima as a ‘’quintessential banker and economist, suave gentleman and politician’’ who is intellectually fertile and economically sound’’. He did not stop there. He stated that that the former Borno state governor is ‘’inter-generationally mobile, young , yet experienced, fiercely loyal, phenomenally complimentary to Ahmed Bola Tinubu the former Lagos state governor’’. Senator Kshim Shettima is a perfect choice as Vice Presidential Candidate for Tinubu, he declared.
Political analysts believes that the APC, National Leader and Presidential Candidate may have followed the footsteps of Peter Obi , a former governor of Anambra state on the ticket of the All Progressive Grand Alliance , APGA, and now Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party, LP, who had announced Senator Datti Baba- Ahmed, a younger person, who have been part of the foundation of success for the LP as his running mate last Friday.
The unveiling of Senator Baba-Ahmed as Obi , the LP, Presidential Candidate , followed the resignation of Doyin Okupe, a Chieftain of the LP, and one-time Media Aide to former President Obasanjo and the Director General of the Peter Obi Campaign Oganisation. The LP Flag bearer had said that ‘’the unveiling of Senator Baba-Ahmed as the LP, Vice Presidential Candidate signals the party and his resolve in the journey ‘’to take back Nigeria to the era of prosperity’’.
He had said that the choice of the north west state of Kaduna born politician was a’’ fallout of several weeks and months of search for somebody who fits the bill of what we are trying to do’’.
There is no gain saying the fact that the APC, and LP, Presidential Candidates for the 2023, general elections may have picked and submitted interim Vice Presidential Candidates to Professor Mahmood Yakubu, led INEC, to beat the deadline set by the Electoral Umpire for parties to do so or be sanctioned.