By Gideon Adona I
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress for the 2023 elections, could in the coming days announce either
Senator Kashim Shettima or Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State
as his running mate, AF24news understands.
With around 12 days until the July 15 deadline for political parties to submit the final names of their presidential candidates and running mates to the Independent National Electoral Commission, it has been learned that Tinubu, after extensive consultation, opted for the two previous names.
According to a staunch Tinubu ally, Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai was also considered but was eventually dropped, even though he played an active role in Tinubu’s emergence as the candidate of the left.
Bola Tinubu, who is currently in France and expected to return to the country soon to finalize the issue of running mates before the deadline, had limited his search to the states of Borno, Kano and Kaduna, with all potential running mates being Muslim.
APC North West governors had stepped up to ensure the region produced the running mate.
In addition, according to a report by The Punch, governors, gubernatorial candidates, ministers and other zone stakeholders at a meeting in Kaduna on Thursday expressed their determination to advance their cause, using their strength of voting as a bargaining tool.
However, according to the ally, Tinubu would only have to make final consultations to choose between Zulum and Shettima upon his return to the country.
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Zulum is believed to have wide acceptance in the north given his record of performance, particularly in the face of the Boko Haram insurgency, while Shettima, an ally of Tinubu, also showed strong support for his candidacy when he stood up in his defense after the Abeokuta. (Ogun State) outburst where Tinubu decried attempts to thwart his candidacy.
The source said, “The race for Asiwaju’s running mate has been narrowed down to just two men. They are the Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, and his predecessor, Kashim Shettima, who is the Senator representing the Borno Central Senatorial District. All things being equal, the running mate should emerge between these two men.
He said, “Yes, it is true that Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai was also being considered. He played an active role in the emergence of Tinubu. His support was one of the surprises among the many people who worked for him. If he (El-Rufai) is chosen, he really deserves it.
“Don’t forget that he is also an influential governor among his colleagues, but I think it is beyond that.”
The source also revealed that “Tinubu is back to deal with this running mate issue once and for all and he will probably see his end before Sallah, which is July 10.”
Another source, who is a member of the late Bola Tinubu for the presidential campaign and a member of the House of Representatives, said the candidate could settle for a governor.
He said: “The position is likely going to a sitting governor from the northeast or northwest. But I think the northeast is favored because the zone has not yet produced a president and we have to share the votes of the zone with the vice president Atiku Abubakar who is from the zone and he is also the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party.
“If we chose Zulum, the noise of a Muslim-Muslim banknote would decrease. I think the Christian community would accept it. He works hard and could be considered on merit by the people. Christians will not hesitate to support him. His name would resonate everywhere.
When asked if Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje was not being considered, the source replied in the negative. “No, he is no longer considered. He wants it, but he is no longer in the equation,” he added.
The APC presidential candidate had in the meantime proposed the name of Ibrahim Kabir Masari as his running mate pending the conclusion of consultations on the choice of Tinubu’s substantial running mate.
The likelihood of the party presenting a Muslim/Muslim ticket had also drawn widespread criticism, with prominent individuals and groups, such as the Christian Association of Nigeria, dismissing the move as a combination that would not hold. But supporters of the candidate and the party had argued that skill should take precedence over religion.