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Who Will Asiwaju Pick As Running Mate?

That is the big question everyone is asking, who will Asiwaju Bola Tinubu run with? Hate him or love him, you can’t but agree that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has remained at the centre of all political calculations, up till now. He is still consequential in determining who becomes the next president in 2023.

As of now, Tinubu is the main issue in Nigeria's politics. For good or for ill, depending on which side of the political divide you are, Tinubu has remained one of those who will determine who becomes Nigeria’s next President. And that is if the Kingmaker changes his mind in his bid to wear the crown himself. But he does not look like someone who will change his mind, reveal insiders. In the next few weeks, he will most likely tell Nigerians his plans.

Talking about wearing the crown, no one can question Asiwaju’s political qualification for the number one seat in Nigeria.  He has remained the only intimidating aspirant jostling for the job, despite political tantrums being thrown around by the fidgeting political class who dread the coming of Asiwaju into the Aso Rock as the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Pundits have argued that it is the fear of Asiwaju that informed the flagging off of one of his Boys who is right now the second in command, by the Northern cabal to undermine his (Asiwaju’s) ambition, ahead 2023.

Asiwaju who has enjoyed a smooth relationship with other big wigs from the North has further strengthened affinity with the northern leaders within the party and has been guaranteed unrelenting support, once the ship is pulled from the dockyard.

The question on the minds of most people is: who will he pick as a running mate? Will he pick a Muslim or a Christian? Being a Muslim from the South he is expected to select a Christian from the North.

Can he pick Simon Lalong, who is a governor from Jos which is the North-central? He is a well-learned and experienced politician who is currently serving his second term as the Governor of Plateau state. He is a Christian from the North-central.

While Asiwaju and Simon Lalong share a cordial relationship, it is not certain that the North can trust a politician from the north-central to hold the highest nomination at the centre, as they give a southerner the chance to assume the power to succeed Buhari.

Another powerful politician that can be considered as a possible running mate to Asiwaju is former Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara. He decamped from the People’s Democratic Party in 2014 and joined the APC at the eve of Buhari’s emergence as former President Goodluck Jonathan’s successor.

The major challenge against the 58-year-old is the fact that he comes from a Minority region in Bauchi State. He is from the Bogoro Local Government Area of Bauchi which is a Christian populated area. It has been argued that Dogara has only been enjoying his return to the house because he’s from a small town whose major population are Christians and they prefer him, also being a Christian. This may mean that Hon. Yakubu Dogara cannot control a bigger political structure in Bauchi State, which is majorly a Muslim populated state.

Another possible candidate is Darius Ishaku, a Christian governor from Taraba State, who is serving his second term. He is bold, confident and controls the majority in the state, but he’s not on the list, as Gov. Ishaku is from the opposition party, PDP.

These back the popular sentiment that as a Muslim from the Southwest he should choose a Northern Christian to balance the ticket. Insiders say if he does that, without mincing words he can kiss his presidential quest goodbye. A Northern Christian running mate can only guarantee him at most 4 northern states of Plateau, Benue, Taraba and Adamawa and bits and pieces of the remaining fifteen states in the north. This will not be decisive enough to enable him to win the north handsomely as he will hope.

A Northern Christian running mate would not resonate well with Northern Muslims who are in an overwhelming majority. The Muslim majority will consider such a ticket as being a two-thirds Christian ticket given the fact that Tinubu’s wife is a Christian as well as his would-be running mate.

In the circumstances, what the opposition would need to do is to raise a strong Muslim candidate from the North to substantially weaken Tinubu’s presidential bid.

It is quite certain that Asiwaju has thought about all these before thinking of the possibility of a Muslim-Muslim ticket. He has already assured northern leaders that he will take care of the southerners by convincing them to fly with the plan.

According to report, Tinubu at a recent meeting with some Northern elders in Abuja arranged by his longtime friend, Senator Abu Ibrahim, reportedly said they should leave the task of convincing Yoruba people to him, if selected by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as the candidate of the party in the 2023 elections. It was said that his position was that the South-West region would not be against the choice of a Muslim as his running mate.

It was also revealed by a source close to the presidency that Asiwaju has also been making overtures or negotiating with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, to pair him as a vice-presidential candidate in the 2023 presidential race beginning with the primary election for the ticket of the ruling APC.

Boss Mustapha is perceived in the APC to have apparently, become a star actor in the horse-trading for the 2023 presidential election. The SGF is from the northeast; this may create seeming extra negotiation stratagem by the Tinubu camp to persuade party leaders and stakeholders in the Northwest.

Boss Mustapha, according to a reliable source is also in the good book of President Buhari as a man that can be trusted when all chips are down. Buhari is confident that a Vice Presidential slot for Mustapha will not only guarantee the interest of the North but will also balance the power play at the centre.

However, the bargaining, horse-trading and consensus building for the 2023 APC presidential ticket has continued to deepen in the party. The president has promised to be neutral and allow a level playing field for all stakeholders. Revealed an insider, "at the end of the day Tinubu is going to push the decision to the North to take. He will ultimately ask the North to nominate 3 options, out of which he will pick his choice. And most likely it will be a Northern Muslim who can also bring something to the table.


-Joseph Seun Emmanuel

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