Former military Head of State Major-General Muhammadu Buhari who emerged the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) following his landslide victory on Thursday in Lagos has taken a bold decision on the choice of his running mate by asking APC leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to recommend his running mate, including possibly himself.
A source close to Buhari revealed that he gave Tinubu the power to pick his running mate in the 2015 Presidential election after a meeting of APC chieftains in Lagos because “he was very impressed with the way Tinubu kept to his words to back him to victory by delivering bulk South-west votes to him during the Presidential primary.”
Another source added: “This bulk South-west vote gave the general a big edge in the primary. He (Buhari) was impressed with Asiwaju’s conduct.”
Having delivered on his promise, Buhari felt it was only natural that he should reciprocate Tinubu’s gesture and good faith.
So, on Friday, Buhari was said to have told the former Lagos State Governor to choose or recommend a running mate for him.
“Buhari told Tinubu that he could either choose himself or recommend somebody else. The combined vote of the region, plus the votes of Akwa-Ibom, Rivers and Bayelsa delivered by Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State gave Buhari a landslide victory in Lagos,” said the source.
However, the source said Buhari was aware of a recent APC resolution against a Muslim/Muslim Presidential ticket and that the General was also aware of the sensitivity and diversity of the Nigerian nation before making the offer to Tinubu who is a Muslim like himself.
The calculation is that should Tinubu pick himself as the running mate and it is acceptable to the party Exco, Buhari would have no opposition to it.
On the other hand, if he is rejected by the Exco, Tinubu will have to recommend somebody else. High on Tinubu’s consideration, should it come to that, is Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State and Professor Yemi Osibajo, a former commissioner in Tinubu’s defunct cabinet. Osibajo’s consideration is to give the South-west a sense of belonging in the emerging political permutation.
Buhari, who by his win at the APC convention has set up a rematch against President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), got 3,430 votes to beat other contenders for the presidential ticket of the main opposition party.
Prior to Friday’s decision by Buhari, Tinubu had always been speculated to be a major contender for the vice presidential slot.
He was said to have stubbornly refused to step down his ambition despite the strong opposition within APC to a Muslim-Muslim pairing.
Another major contender is the Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi, a Christian from the South-south zone, who has been a major financing and logistic supporter for Buhari to square up against Atiku and other contenders for the APC ticket.
Amaechi, who has never hidden his desire for the vice-presidential slot, was also instrumental in the outward transformation of Buhari, from a light-blue agbada wearing, stodgy, elderly retired army general, to an urbane, bespoke suit-wearing, spritely man eager to keep up with the Joneses.
For Amaechi’s efforts, Buhari’s key advisers canvassed the vice-presidential slot for him. But with the decision by Buhari yesterday, Amaechi’s hopes seemed to have been dashed.
A source close to Tinubu said the Rivers State governor stood not even the slightest chance of being nominated by the former Lagos State governor as he is now torn between a South-west candidate and a South-south candidate.
The calculation is, were he to choose a South-south candidate, who in this case is Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman who is Chief John Odigie Oyegun also from Edo State, South-south will have to vacate office for a South-west candidate.
Many of the leaders of the party believe that should Tinubu concede the vice presidential slot to Oshiomhole, he (Tinubu) would have to emerge as the national chairman so that he would be able to influence appointments in favour of the South-west.
Source: This Day