In an effort to resolve the impasse being faced in the selection of a running mate, an advisory council constituted by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), conducted a mock election for the three contenders for the position.
Daily Trust gathered that the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, won the mock poll held at the national headquarters of the PDP in Abuja.
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The advisory council was constituted to review the report of the General Aliyu Gusau’s committee.
The Gusau-committee had recommended the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel for consideration.
It was gathered that the advisory council, which was inaugurated by the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, yesterday swung into action immediately.
The election was conducted during the closed door session of the council members.
A member of the National Working Committee (NWC) told this paper that 19 of the 20 member-committee attended the inaugural meeting.
The source said 16 of the 19 chieftains in attendance voted for the Rivers State governor, who came second during the presidential primary of the party last month, which was won by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
“When the chairman of the advisory committee, Ambassador Umar Shehu Damagum, asked members of the committee who are in support of Wike to raise up their hands, 16 threw their weights behind the Rivers State governor. Based on this, there was no need for another vote,” the source said.
With the election, members of the committee, which is saddled with the task of picking the party’s vice presidential candidate for the 2023 elections overwhelmingly agreed to recommend Wike for the plum job.
“You saw his showing at the primaries. The party leaders have confidence in his capacity and they have chosen him. He would be recommended to the presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar,” he said.
He said the advisory council would soon submit its report to the National Working Committee (NWC) for onward delivery to the presidential candidate.
Members of the council chaired by the Deputy National Chairman (North), Ambassador Damagum were Governors Samuel Ortom (Benue), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), former Governors Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Liyel Imoke (Cross Rivers), Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo) and the minority leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, among others.
Earlier, while inaugurating the committee, Ayu urged them to come up with a conclusion before Friday.
He said Atiku wrote the party to assist him in the selection of his running mate.
Ayu said the various organs of the party were represented in the council.
APC govs mum after meeting Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday held a closed door meeting with the governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, led his colleagues to the meeting, which held at a time the party was holding high level consultations on the choice of running mate to its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The parley was attended by the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, Governors Babagana Zulum (Borno), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), and Hope Uzodinma of Imo State.
Daily Trust reports that the former Lagos State governor has pencilled down the name of Senator Kashim Shettima, who played a critical role in his campaign as his running mate.
However, some elements of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) are said to be planning to approach President Buhari to recommend Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice or the Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, for the position of the vice president.
At the end of their meeting with President Buhari, the governors left without addressing newsmen on the outcome of their meeting.
Tinubu will choose his running mate – Imo gov
But Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State Tuesday said Tinubu will choose his running mate for the 2023 general elections and not governors.
He said this while fielding questions from State House reporters after meeting with President Buhari over his planned state visit to commission some projects executed by his administration.
The governor said the choice of a running mate would take into consideration all the indices that would promote fairness and unity of the country after a successful convention that led to the emergence of Tinubu as the party’s flag bearer, contrary to the expectations of some people in some quarters.
On the reports that the APC was planning to settle for a Muslim/Muslim ticket, he said there was nowhere in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where religion is a factor or characteristic as to who becomes the president or who becomes the running mate.
He said: “But we are looking for united Nigeria, where governance will be the issue, where a president would be adjudged by his capacity to deliver democratic dividends, develop Nigeria to look like other parts of the Western world where democracy is working.
“I don’t want us to reduce governance in Nigeria to certain things that will encourage divisiveness, rather, we should be a united Nigeria, be our brother’s keepers, have a president of Nigeria that will be a president representing every tribe, every religion, every denomination. And when we get there, we will cross the bridge.
“The decision also to choose a running mate does not reside with any of us the governors. It is the presidential candidate that will look at the local characteristics and every factor, political and apolitical that will make him win his election and take the decision. So it is not a decision that we will sit here and take for the candidate.”
Uzodimma, while reacting to a question on how the people from the South East could achieve what they wanted in future, having said the constitution is not against the issue of single faith ticket, said: “I did not say is not about single faith ticket.
“I said these are internal characteristics that the decision maker may consider in the process of taking his decision. The decision whether to choose Mr A or Mr B to be a running mate to a candidate is entirely that of the candidate.
“You started by saying the governors of the South East are complaining of not having the opportunity of being a running mate anymore. But that is not the sole ambition of the south easterners, talk less of the governors to be a running mate. And in the business of presidential primaries, there is no election for a vice presidential candidate, the business there is just to elect a candidate.”
We’re not in alliance talks – NNPP
Also, contrary to the speculations in the social media that the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) is mulling alliance with the Labour Party (LP), the National Publicity Secretary of the NNPP, Agbo Major, said the party is not in any alliance talks with anybody.
“We are fielding our presidential candidate and whoever wants to join us can do so,” he said.
On whether the party had chosen anybody for the VP slot, he said they were yet to do so.
But the Labour Party last night said that it was discussing with the NNPP led by Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso for a possible alliance for the 2023 presidential election.
The National Publicity Secretary of the Labour Party, Comrade Abayomi Oluwafemi Arabambi, disclosed this in an interview with Daily Trust.
He said the Labour Party, which has former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi as its presidential candidate, had held advanced talks with the Kwankwasiyya Movement for the choice of running mate and collaboration to rescue Nigeria.
He said there were also talks with the former Governor of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau, and all critical stakeholders on the presidential election.
“We are putting together our structure with the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress, the National Consultative Front, the Civil Liberties Organisation, the Christian and Muslim community, the youth group, everybody, and we are trying to harmonise our structure and everybody has come on board now,” he said.
Buhari takes decisions without cabal – Presidency
The Presidency has said President Buhari takes his own decisions and carries them out without the backup of a so-called “cabal” or backroom boys.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said this Tuesday in a statement titled “President’s Laudatory Role in the APC Primary” amid reports about the actions of people around President Buhari during the period.
The statement read; “The media are being inundated with made up stories- speculating about the role of the president in the flag bearer contest: whether he had a favoured candidate, and whether manoeuvres were made to install them; whether the chosen flag bearer was the president’s choice or another.
“Speculation is easy. But facts are simple. The president always said he had a favoured candidate. He said that candidate was whoever was chosen by the APC in a democratic primary to lead the party at the election.
“Those still assailing the APC and the president expounding conspiracy theories and making all manner of speculations about who did what or did not need to understand the important point about the country’s leader: President Buhari takes his own decisions and carries them out without the backup of a so-called “cabal” or backroom boys.
“The strong leader myth in Nigeria has lasted far too long. People make assumptions that if you are a leader, you dominate everything, and even determine electoral outcomes.
“Luckily for Nigeria, President Buhari does not suffer from such constraints. He refuses to act as the elected autocrat.”
He said the president had a clear purpose leading up to the primary to ensure a transparent, free and fair process that would bring back people’s faith in democracy by taking good governance up to the grassroots level.
The presidential spokesman said people’s faith and that of the international community in the nation’s democracy had received a major boost since the completion of the APC nomination because of the president’s mission, stating that, “The flag bearer has been chosen. He has the president’s unwavering support. The journey to victory continues.”
By Baba Martins, Muideen Olaniyi, John Chuks Azu & Terkula Igidi