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How Gov. ZULUM Stepped Down For Sen. SHETTIMA

 •To Emerge TINUBU's Running Mate


It’s been just about a week now that the presidential flag bearer of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu stunned political observers when he went ahead to pick his running mate, former Governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettiima, ignoring massive calls for him to pick a Christian as running mate. But unknown to many, the choice of Kashim Shettima was not originally what Asiwaju wanted. Details have emerged on how the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, was left with no choice but to pick Shettima when the party’s agreed choice Governor Babagana Umara Zulum, refused the offer,

Asiwaju had been put under immense pressure before he finally made his choice and went public with it. There was pressure from both the North–East and North-West governors. According to information available to City People, it was gathered that some governors preferred the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu and his Kaduna State counterpart, Nasir El-Rufai, but Tinubu initially offered the ticket to the Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum.

It was learnt that one of the reasons for the prolonged delay in selecting a running mate was the refusal of Zulum to accept Tinubu’s offer. A Lawmaker close to the APC flag bearer and friend of City People revealed that Tinubu had offered Zulum the ticket on a silver platter but he refused to take it.

An associate of Tinubu who wished to remain anonymous, said, “Based on wide consultations as well as a survey, Zulum was the most popular option. Zulum is young, dynamic and loved by the youths. His courageous fight against insurgency has also put him in good stead to fill the position of the party’s vice presidential candidate. He was repeatedly offered the ticket but he turned it down for two main reasons. The first was that he was eager to complete his tenure as governor of Borno State and implement his reconstruction programme.

“But, most importantly, his loyalty to Shettima was also the major factor. Zulum was Shettima’s commissioner when he handpicked him as his successor in 2019. They have maintained an extremely close relationship ever since which is rare between governors and their predecessors. Zulum finally stated that he would only accept the VP slot if Shettima asked him to take it. No matter how much pressure was put on him, despite calls from top leaders close to the national leader, Bola Tinubu, Zulum respectfully stood his ground. He insisted his former governor and leader and mentor, Shettima, must be part of the process of his selection. But it was difficult for Tinubu’s men to ask Shettima to plead with Zulum to take the job when it was obvious that Shettima also wanted the job. With INEC’s deadline fast approaching, Shettima became the sure option.”  And it must be said that Shettima’s loyalty to Tinubu has never been in doubt. They have been allies for many years, long before now. Asiwaju has been part of Shettima’s political journey and a great supporter of his aspirations. So, it was easy to settle for him.

Earlier last week, the six North-West governors who are members of the All Progressives Congress had met with a view to ensuring that Tinubu picks one of them as a running mate. One of the governors, who was said to have been interested in the position was Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State who is one of the biggest advocates of the Muslim-Muslim ticket having successfully implemented it in his state.

However, El-Rufai’s frosty relationship with the Christian community was said to have discouraged Tinubu. Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State could also not be considered despite his closeness to Tinubu because of the party crisis in his state that had contributed to the popularity of Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and the New Nigeria Peoples Party. And as it is now, it is still uncertain if Ghanduje can deliver Kano State to Asiwaju come next year’s presidential elections.

It was learnt that associates of Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, who is also the Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, had reached out to Tinubu with a view to ensuring that he gets the ticket since he is the only northern Christian Governor in the APC.

However, Lalong’s popularity in the North was said not to be strong enough to boost Tinubu’s chances. Speaking with journalists after the meeting, Tinubu revealed that he had picked Shettima as his running mate, adding that he had not informed the former governor of his decision. In a later statement signed by his Campaign Spokesman, Bayo Onanuga, the APC candidate said he was aware of Shettima’s religion. However, he decided to pick him still because the task of rebuilding Nigeria was beyond religious affiliation.

He reassured Nigerians that his selection was not based on religion nor taken to please certain individuals, communities and organisations.

The ex-governor said, “I am mindful of the energetic discourse concerning the possible religion of my running mate. Just and noble people have talked to me about this. Some have counselled that I should select a Christian to please the Christian community. Others have said I should pick a Muslim to appeal to the Muslim community. Clearly, I cannot do both.

“Both sides of the debate have impressive reasons and passionate arguments supporting their positions. Both arguments are right in their own way. But neither is right in the way that Nigeria needs at the moment. As President, I hope to govern this nation toward uncommon progress. This will require innovation. It will require steps never before taken. It will also require decisions that are politically difficult and rare.”

Shortly before Tinubu’s declaration, Ibrahim Masari, the APC chieftain who had stood as a surrogate running mate, announced his decision to step aside.

Masari, the surrogate running mate, stepped aside to pave the way for the name of the substantive running mate to be submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission within five days of the deadline.



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