Atiku, Tinubu and search for running mates | The Guardian Nigeria News

The two legendary political warhorses, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu have started their famous battle for the 2023 presidential poll in search of their running mates. And, it seems that how they climbed that first hurdle would determine how far they would go to convince Nigerians that they possess the magic wand to cleanse the stable of Augeans from the leadership inertia that is hampering the country.

The two standard bearers of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) face similar odds. While Atiku’s challenges lie in who between the Southeast and South-South geopolitical zones should produce his deputy, Tinubu ponders whether to choose a Muslim or a Christian running mate.

It should be recalled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared that political parties had to upload the names of their presidential candidates and their running mates on its portal from June 10 to 17.

Although the national leader of the APC said that the name of his preferred candidate was already in his pocket, Atiku entrusted a committee of PDP leaders led by former Senate President David Alechenu Mark with the responsibility of select their ideal second-in-command.

While the David Mark committee is there, two opposing forces have already risen to claim the vacant position of presidential running mate in the party. These groups are the forum for former state governors and outgoing governors.

The Guardian understood that the two forces emerged after Atiku announced he would like to remove his deputy from the fold of governors, prompting former governors, especially the fold of Class 99 governors, to join the queue. wait for potential vice-presidents. To make things very complex, the two geopolitical zones – South-East and South-South are divided unequally, because while the South-South has more incumbent governors, the South-East has more former governors.

According to sources, it was this disparity that necessitated the establishment of the vice-presidential selection committee, as well as the need to avoid a repeat of the experience of 2019, when the choice of Peter Obi by Atiku sparked protests among South East PDP stakeholders, including the governors.

From the Southeast, the only class of 1999 governors in contention is the charismatic Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, who they believe could add value to Atiku’s campaign and eventual government.

Since 1999, when he ascended the saddle as Governor of Enugu State after a highly successful medical practice in the United States as an Obstetrician and Gynecological Surgeon, Nnamani has remained a permanent fixture in state politics. ‘Enugu, where he heads the Ebeano political grouping.

Like Tinubu, the two-term Senator Enugu has nurtured a huge class of emerging leaders, even as he enjoys a cult following among the masses in the state. Cerebral and engaging, the PDP search committee believes that Chimaroke Nnamani would complement the Wazirin Adamawa in the explosive election campaign with Tinubu on the ballot.

The hope that a series of televised debates would precede the presidential polls in 2023 would weigh in favor of Nnamani, who, as well as being a contemporary of the former Governor of Lagos State, has also been a longtime resident of the United States and endowed with spellbinding communication skills that captivate the political campaign.

The question to be asked is what support the South-East Nnamani governors could count on. Besides his state governor, Ifeanyin Ugwuanyin, and perhaps that of Abia, Okezie Ikpeazu, Nnamani will have to deal with three other governors, a path the party had taken with Peter Obi.

Nnamani also may not have the resources a sitting governor could give to support a massive presidential campaign.
Another former governor mentioned in the search for Atiku’s running mate is former Imo State Governor Emeka Ihedioha who, in addition to serving as Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, was the former Atiku’s assistant. However, Ihedioha who is a close confidant and ally of Sokoto State Governor Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal is however limited by his short tenure as Governor and his low level political influence in Imo State. , which has an incumbent governor from the APC.

From the South-South, which has five outgoing PDP governors, only three are in their last term, namely Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom); Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, (Rivers State). Emmanuel and Wike argued against Atiku for the PDP ticket during the primaries. It was understood that Okowa did not buy the presidential nomination, perhaps to be relevant at a time like this.

While the incumbent governors forum argues for the nomination of Atiku’s running mate, it was found that the emergence of Tinubu and the compelling need to select a value-added deputy narrowed the search to two serving governors, Wike and Okowa. A little combat preparation makes Wike’s case more appealing. Additionally, retired military generals, who orchestrated Tambuwal’s withdrawal to pave the way for Atiku’s emergence, would also be aware. Their views are also sought.

The Guardian has learned that the South East leaders, who backed Atiku’s candidacy, have entered into serious discussions with the Wazirin Adamawa in the context of his offer to serve for a single term and hand over to a South -Is in 2027.

But, with Tinubu’s camp, there are four potential running mate materials. Among them is the chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum, Senator Atiku Abubakar Bagudu, who has been an ally of Asiwaju. APC sources told The Guardian that during the many plots against Tinubu, Bagudu was subtly protecting his (Tinubu) interests, especially under the rule of Mai Mala Buni as Chairman of the Interim Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).

Then there is the latter-day Tinubu apostle, Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, who worked underground against the plot to impose Senate President Ahmad Lawal on the party. Through National Vice President (North), Dr. Salihu Lukman, El-Rufai is said to have ensured that the APC National Working Committee (NWC) was not hijacked by the cabal through its national president, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, for Lawan. Presidency project.

A close confidant of Governor Bagudu told The Guardian that this was based on the strong assertion by the Governor of Kebbi State and his counterpart in Kaduna State that the issue of the Muslim/Muslim ticket had become a matter contentious. It was just when it was realized that Tinubu had, at the height of the crisis in the Kano State APC chapter, asked Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje to put aside his senatorial ambition with the promise to play “a strategic role” in Tinubu’s presidency. It remains to be determined whether this crucial role is to serve as vice-president.

But apart from the three Muslim perspectives, the Tinubu camp would also look in the directions of the Northern Governors Forum Chairman, Hon. Simon Lalong and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara. At the time of his defection to the APC, it was suggested that the move was orchestrated by Tinubu to position the former president as his potential running mate. The Federation government secretary, Boss Mustapha is a notable personality who is withdrawn, calm and unassuming.

As the INEC deadline for name submissions draws near, whoever ends up being Atiku and Tinubu’s running mate will join the ongoing strategic political war between the two former Game Masters. For example, it has been seen that while Atiku looks to the South-East and South/South to achieve balance and in a bid to split votes with Peter Obi of the Labor Party (LP), Tinubu would also target the high-voting population in the North -West. and contest for votes with Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).

It should be noted that Atiku and Tinubu belonged to the same Social Democratic Party (SDP), which made leader MK O Abiola the presumed winner of the 1993 presidential election. Which of them would repeat history after 30 years ? February 2023 will tell.

Brandon D. James