In the next few days, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, will necessarily have to name his running mate. This is following an announcement by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, that all presidential candidates must conclude the choice of their running mates and upload it to its portal by June 17.
For the two leading presidential contestants, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and Tinubu, choosing a running mate has been equally as gruelling and rigorous as emerging their respective party’s candidates.
Consultations have been extensive. Allies and advisers, and party stakeholders and supporters have been floating different names into the media to see which one gets oxygen. The existential fact today is that to win the presidential race, the possibility that conventional patterns would be ignored is sky-high. No longer would the vice president be chosen to balance the ticket for mere political expediency. What obtains now and what each of the candidates wants is a partner, a vice president that can complement their experience and plans and programmes for the nation. Certainly, not just another understudy.
Whoever the vice-presidential candidate of either party turns out to be, they must be a person who could help the ticket to win and help the president to govern and be ready to step into the office should something happen to the president. Finding the perfect combination may be impossible. But Tinubu is a lucky man. A southern Moslem who requires the majority votes of the Moslem northwest to win the presidential race, he needs not to look far for that individual that would turn out to be his and the party’s ace in the hole come February 2023. The figure loomed large, unobtrusive, but highly influential and instrumental to the successful outcome of the convention.
Echoes of the APC national convention and presidential primaries held last week in Abuja still reverberate loudly across the nation. The intrigues that preceded and pervaded the convention and the eventual emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the flag-bearer of the APC are still very fresh in memory.
One of the hair-raising moments as the convention got underway in Abuja was the announcement that the national chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu had announced Senate President Dr Ahmad Lawan as the consensus candidate of the party. It was a trial balloon that was quickly punctured by a coalition of northern governors and, particularly, the Progressives Governor’s Forum chaired by Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State. They stuck by the agreement that power must return to the south.
Many Nigerians may not realise the efforts of the Bagudu-led PGF but, President Muhammadu Buhari does. Some days back, he wrote a letter of appreciation to Governor Bagudu for playing an extraordinary role in ensuring the successful conduct of the convention.
In the letter, the President said he was pleased to see how Bagudu, who also served as chairman of the Presidential Convention Planning Committee, handled his brief professionally and efficiently. The President said, “Your commitment in pursuit of equity and fairness speaks volumes in the cooperation displayed by APC governors. This indeed demonstrates the camaraderie that brought us together over eight years ago. The party primaries were peacefully conducted and the delegates selected the candidate to carry the APC flag in the 2023 presidential poll. Today, as a patriotic APC member and stakeholder, I trust that you will come together to work with our candidate to win the 2023 elections.”
Indeed, without the timely and proactive intervention of Governor Bagudu and the Northern governors, Nigerians would probably be doing a post-mortem of the APC by now. That did not happen and a grateful President Muhammadu Buhari has shown his profound appreciation.
Bagudu displayed loyalty and leadership, integrity, and capacity when it mattered most. He was a calming influence in the deluge of tempests and maelstroms that preceded the convention. Thus, as the search for the APC’s vice presidential nominee intensifies in the days ahead, it is only advisable that Bagudu, from the north-western state of Kebbi, is strongly considered.
Bagudu comes well-acquitted for the job and he is one person that can deliver a sure-fire boost to APC’s chances. He is in his second term as Governor of Kebbi State. A former senator, he has legislative and executive experiences and can galvanise Nigerian youths with his smooth-talking and catholic candour. A thoroughbred personality, Bagudu has a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Jos and a Master of Art from Columbia University, U.S.A.
Like his prospective principal, Bagudu is a liberal-minded Moslem. Blessed with the gravitas and temperament of an accustomed leader, there is no scintilla of doubt that when called upon, Bagudu can easily step into his principal’s shoes and run the nation adroitly.
The final decision will likely come down to Tinubu’s rapport with the vice-presidential candidate. And that is where Bagudu also trumps all; their track records as legislators and chief executives of a state; and backgrounds in finance and economics. They would seamlessly complement each other and deliver a Nigeria that works for all.
Teju Ajayi is a Practicing Architect and Public affairs analyst.