Efforts by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to name a vice presidential candidate, who will run with the party’s presidential flagbearer, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, is currently meeting resistance by some members of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), who are insisting that it is their right to do so.
Already, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has given a deadline of June 17 to presidential candidates to name their running mates.
Daily Independent gathered from reliable sources that the APC will announce its vice presidential candidate tomorrow.
In 2013, four political parties, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) merged to form the APC on whose platform Buhari contested and finally won 2015 the presidential election.
The CPC founded by President Muhammadu Buhari and the ACN led by Tinubu were the two dominant political parties in the merger. The party was later joined by some aggrieved members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who labeled themselves as New PDP (nPDP).
When Buhari was elected as the APC’s presidential candidate in December 2014 following the primary held at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, the vice presidential slot was ceded to Tinubu’s ACN.
Although Tinubu was interested in becoming the running mate, some stakeholders in the party who were opposed to a Muslim-Muslim ticket rejected him and he was given the privilege to nominate a Christian candidate he desired.
The former Lagos State governor then nominated Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), the current vice president who contested against him in last week’s presidential primary of the APC but came third behind Tinubu and former Rivers State governor and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
Speaking with Daily Independent on Monday, a former senator from the CPC camp said they have already notified President Buhari and Tinubu that their group should produce the vice presidential candidate.
He added that even though Tinubu has emerged as the party’s presidential candidate, the decision to pick the running mate is not his alone to make but that of the entire stakeholders in the party.
“On the issue of running mate to Asiwaju, there are two main issues involved. First is the issue of religion where a lot of people have been talking about whether a Muslim-Muslim ticket is acceptable or not.
“That to us is not a problem. It has happened in this country before and it can still happen if we truly love ourselves and we are concerned about the unity and progress of Nigeria.
“Some people are saying because MKO Abiola did it in 1993 and won doesn’t mean it can happen now because it is almost 30 years ago. My question is, what has really changed between 1993 and now? Those who ignored religious sentiments and voted then for a Muslim-Muslim ticket or Christian-Christian ticket, are they not reasonable people?
“For us, the second issue which is most important is that the APC must honour the unwritten agreement we had and allow the CPC camp to produce the vice presidential candidate to Asiwaju. We don’t care whether the person is a Muslim or Christian.
“We have written to President Buhari and our presidential candidate, Asiwaju, that the pact must be honoured. When Buhari became candidate then, we all agreed that the ACN must produce the running mate and it was so. Now, it is our turn to name the running mate and we have also forwarded some names for consideration.
“Few days ago, Asiwaju said it is my turn to become APC presidential candidate and Northern governors rallied behind him and he emerged. We too are now saying it is our turn to produce the vice presidential candidate and we want relevant stakeholders in the party to accede to our request”.
When contacted, a member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC asked our correspondent to ignore the agitators as there is nothing like CPC or ACN members again following the merger.
“There is nothing like CPC, ACN or ANPP again. What happened in 2014 was that the party conceded the VP position to Tinubu and he nominated Osinbajo. The position was not given to ACN caucus.
“If today, the party decides to give President Buhari the privilege of choosing the vice presidential candidate, that is understandable but not saying it must go to CPC or ACN or ANPP. We don’t have such groups again.”
Also speaking with Daily Independent, Otunba Bosun Oladele, a former member of the House of Representatives, who is the National Secretary of the South-West Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA ’23), said what should be of paramount importance to all APC members is how the party can retain power after the 2023 presidential election.
He said, “Just like every member of an association will have a right in laying claim to whatever position is available in the association, if the CPC faction is saying they have the right to produce the vice presidential candidate, I want to concede to them that they have the right just like every other legacy groups that formed the APC.
“Definitely, the leadership of the APC will take these and many more things into consideration in deciding who gets what just like it has always done in the past.
“But I want to categorically state that the essence of APC continuing in leading this country is to ensure that the paradigm shift that has been initiated, the programmes and the renewal activities in terms of infrastructures and developments are well sustained.
“You cannot ensure sustenance from outside. You have to be the main player and driver of sustainability. That is why it is sacrosanct that APC remain in power. The most important concern of every APC member is how can we win election? It is only when we win that we can continue with our developmental programmes for the country”.