PHOTOS: Tinubu’s Search For A Running Mate Begins, Who Are The Likely Contenders?

The emergence, yesterday, of a former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was the first and most important leg in the journey to next year’s presidential bout.

That, of course, ushers in the second leg and sets a new challenge for the ruling party, which is the search for a suitable running mate, whose combination could help the party to victory in the 2023 elections.

And, since the choice of a running mate is as critical as the candidate itself, to the outcome of a presidential election, it is expected that certain factors would be put into consideration, too, in settling for anyone at all.

However, to guide the APC in the choice of its running mate to Tinubu are a few factors, including capacity, education, experience, exposure, political networth, ethnicity and religion. While the APC is certain to go to the north for its pick, the part of the north it chooses to pull the lucky one from is equally germane to several other considerations as much as religion, which is a chief factor in the north.

Ironically, Tinubu, a Muslim southerner, is surrounded majorly by more Muslim northerners than their Christian brothers. In other words, the APC ticket appears to lean more to a Muslim-Muslim pairing than a Muslim-Christian blend. Yet, none of the options is cast in stone, as it were.

Thus, given the importance of this choice and how it could impact the election, what are the options before the APC? There are many of them, but a few readily come to mind.

They are the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu; Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai; Kano State Governor, Abdulahi Ganduje; Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Gida Mustapha and Malam Kashim Ibrahim-Imam.

Atiku Bagudu

The Kebbi State governor is the Chairman of Progressive Governors’ Forum and has been in the thick of events in the party, helping to moderate situations and proffering solutions to even the most difficult situations. From the North West zone, Bagudu is a loyal ally of the president, who is urbane and well-spoken. He is also popular amongst his peers, having chaired their elite group well for some time. He is a strong contender to the office, although a Muslim like Tinubu.

Nasir El-Rufai

Controversial, but principled and outspoken governor of Kaduna State, was about the first northern governor to speak in support of power shift to south and he sustained his position to the very end. Interestingly, Kaduna is a very crucial north central state, whose votes could help put the party in good stead. With an El-rufai, another Muslim on the ticket, it could as much strengthen the place of the party and at the same time stand in its way.

Abdulahi Ganduje

Governor of the North West Kano State, Ganduje, has always been in contention, indeed, advantaged by his state, which churns out very good votes, enough to determine any election. Ganduje, a Muslim, becomes more important in the equation, because aside giving some good votes, he could also help to neutralise the Kwankwasiyya influence in the state. Kwankwasiyya is a political movement led by a former governor of the state, Rabiu Kwankwaso influence, who is also contesting the presidential election on the platform of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).

Simon Lalong

A strong ally of former Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, the Plateau State governor, could be a compensation for the Amaechi group, given their influence as evident in Amaechi’s emergence as the first runner up at the election. Besides, as the Chairman, Northern APC governors, Lalong has been critical to practically all that went down before and at the convention, which culminated in Tinubu’s emergence. He is, however, a Christian, which provides a good balance to the ticket, especially, coming also from North Central. But will the north accept him?

Boss Mustapha

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mustapha, is today about the most visible functionary in the presidency, working closely with the president and helping to navigate practically all the sensitive and not-so-sensitive assignments. With capacity and deep knowledge about the workings of the government of the day, particularly the presidency, no one sits better as a choice for running mate than Mustapha. What more, the cerebral and cosmopolitan Mustapha, is a Christian from Adamawa State, North East, the same place as the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, and which he has since held down for the party as a promising strong hold.

Kashim Ibrahim-Imam

A former PDP governorship candidate in 2003 and 2007 in Borno State, Ibrahim-Imam, is a noted confidant of the APC presidential candidate, and one believed to have held different positions in trust for him, with a relationship spanning over 40 years. A devout Muslim from Boko Haram-ravaged Borno, Ibrahim-Imam, could easily reap from the quiet effort, albeit on all sides, to give the North East some sense of belonging by putting them on the presidential ticket. A retired banker, accounting and finance expert, Ibrahim-Imam is a consummate politician, former President of Kings College Old Boys Association, KCOBA, who is grounded in pension funds management. Although urbane, cosmopolitan and well liked by friends and associates, he too remains a product of Muslim-Muslim combination, which raises concerns for the ticket.

But if Tinubu is looking for someone he can trust, then of course, Kashim fits the bill.

Abubakar Badaru

Current Governor of Jigawa State, Badaru, is another force among the governors with promising political career. Urbane, reserved and sound, he has both the academic and political aptitudes for the job, seen largely by his colleagues as a thinker and worthy ally to network with. He, like Bagudu of Kebbi, has been involved in the affairs of the party at the highest level and had done so much to help stabilise it at the highest level. His joining the presidential race was not an accident, likewise his withdrawal and standing down for Tinubu, was allegedly strategic on his part. Yet another Muslim from the North West, he fits the bill, no doubt, save for the same reservation that applies to the others.

Babagana Zulum

The Borno State Governor is one state chief executive, who had been marked early in the race for presidency as suitable for running mate. The debate about his choice became so debated that he issued a statement, dismissing the idea. Instead, Zulum stated he he would rather return to Borno and finish off what he started. Curiously, his name wouldn’t stop popping up, because of his stellar performance in his state and also because he has also become sellable over the years. A candidate of the academia, who is neck-deep in practical politics of development, Zulum is arguably an asset to the ticket, even though he is a Muslim. He is young and seen as a breath of fresh air in the murky waters of politics.

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