Four days of protracted meetings by leaders of the main opposition All Progressives Congress [APC] to choose a running mate for presidential candidate Major General Muhammadu Buhari ended in a stalemate last night.
The meetings, first started in Lagos on Friday, continued at the Rivers State Governor’s Lodge at Asokoro, Abuja into the early hours of this morning without an agreement being reached.
Sources at the meeting say that the stalemate resulted from the insistence by powerful party leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu that he be nominated as the running mate to Buhari. Tinubu was unanimously adopted by the party’s South West caucus, to which the position was zoned, but his nomination was stiffly resisted by party leaders from other zones who said such a Muslim/Muslim ticket would cause untold political problems.
Daily Trust learnt that the meeting spent hours discussing the merits of other potential candidates. Among those discussed were Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi but his name was dropped when it was agreed to cede the position to the South West.
Within that zone too, several candidates were discussed including former Lagos State Attorney General and Justice Commissioner Professor Yemi Osinbajo as well as former Ekiti State governors Kayode Fayemi and Niyi Adebayo. However the South West caucus, after many rounds of consultations of its own, recommended Tinubu for the position.
Sources said there were arguments for and against the Tinubu nomination and that all efforts to persuade the South West caucus to reconsider the nomination failed. Tinubu insisted that his Muslim faith will not affect the party’s chances in the South, particularly in Yorubaland. He reportedly said Christian fears had been totally allayed by APC’s nomination of Mr. Akinwumi Ambode as its governorship candidate for Lagos.
‘Buhari should choose’
When the meeting failed to reach a consensus, a decision was made that General Buhari himself should choose the running mate and all party members were enjoined to respect his decision in that regard.
Although the meeting ended at about 12: 30am, it was not clear if Buhari had indicated his choice.
National Secretary of the APC, Mai Mala Buni, informed Daily Trust on telephone after the meeting that there will be further consultations today and that the party will announce its choice for the running mate of its presidential candidate.
Earlier, a party chieftain privy to the meeting informed Daily Trust that both the South South and the South East also staked a claim to the running mate slot for their regions respectively.
Former chairman of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) Chief Ogbonnaya Onu reportedly indicated interest to be paired with Buhari for the February 18, 2015 election.
The argument by a South West governor that the slot should be given to the region based on its contributions to the APC project was countered by Imo State governor Rochas Okorocha, who said the South East should be considered to increase the party’s electoral chances. Other party members from the South East said giving the position to their region will reduce the influence of the PDP and give them a sense of belonging.
From the South South, Daily Trust gathered that Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, has indicated interest for the VP slot, while his Rivers counterpart Rotimi Amaechi is said to have shown ‘little’ interest in the position.
Those at the meeting
Yesterday’s meeting was attended by General Muhammadu Buhari, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Rochas Okorocha, Sam Nda Isaiah.
Governors Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Adams Oshiomhole (Edo), Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), and Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara).
Others are Governors Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe), Kashim Shettima (Borno), APC national chairman Chief Odigie Oyegun, national secretary Mai Mala Buni, national welfare secretary Dikko Umaru Radda, former interim national secretary Tijjani Musa Tumsah and Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim.
The APC national publicity secretary Lai Mohammed, Senator Atiku Bagudu, Senator Ahmed Sani Yarima and APC national vice chairman North West Barrister Inuwa Abdulkadir, among others, were also at the meeting.