Buhari’s running mate: Why APC may dump Amaechi for Fashola

Posted by News Express | 23 October 2014 | 4,506 times

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Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, has been reportedly endorsed by the South-West caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the vice-presidential candidate to whoever emerges as the presidential standard-bearer of the party.

The zone is also strongly working for the emergence of former head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari, as the presidential candidate for 2015 election.

Following an exclusive report by Saturday Tribune that a new power-sharing formula favoured Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, as Buhari’s running-mate, the South-West caucus of the party reportedly launched a lobby on why the zone, and not the South-South, should be on the expected northern presidential ticket.

The party leadership and elders reportedly bought the argument that South-West would be the battleground in the presidential contest and it was just politically correct that a viable south-westerner should be on the ticket.

Amaechi was said to be aware of the move to dump him and had not been folding his arms.

A national officer of the party told the Nigerian Tribune that making a choice between Amaechi and Fashola was asking the party at large to choose between picking Amaechi and winning just a state with less than two million votes and picking Fashola and sweeping an entire geopolitical zone.

The source noted that while Amaechi was an asset to the party, the arithmetic of the presidential election and the candidates expected to be involved demanded that someone with capacity to win more votes should be picked as the running-mate

The APC national officer conceded that South-South and South-East were for Jonathan, but expected that the likes of Amaechi would not only significantly reduce the president’s votes, but should be able to prevent the usual alleged rigging in the zones that accounted for the high number of votes in the past elections.

When reminded that it might be difficult persuading Amaechi to go empty-handed, after his many sacrifices to the party, the national officer said it would be in Amaechi’s interest to work for the victory of the party in Rivers State, whether he was picked as running mate or not, considering that his failure at the poll would hurt him more in the state.

“We will first appeal to him, but it is in his own interest to win Rivers for us, both in governorship and presidential elections. If (Nyesom) Wike becomes governor and PDP wins Rivers for Jonathan, Amaechi would suffer more personal loss than the party,” the source said.

It was further learnt that the party leadership, both at the national level and South-West, was being pragmatic with the choice of Fashola, with those who would not even readily agree with him now supporting the push for his candidacy.

“Fashola is a game-changer. He complements Buhari. Buhari is old, Fashola is young. Buhari is conservative, Fashola is dynamic. Are you saying South-West would leave its own and support Jonathan and Sambo? Every politics is local. South-West will first consider which party brings it closer to Aso Rock.

“Because we had been considering him all this while, that is why we didn’t go on air, disclaiming the possibility of a Muslim-Muslim ticket. Fashola’s wife is a strong Christian. Nigerians want good governance, not religious sentiments. Would you, in good conscience, call Fashola a religious bigot?” the source asked rhetorically.

Nigerian Tribune also reliably gathered that former Attorney General of Lagos State, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, earlier considered for the job, was no longer on the radar of the party leadership.

A member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party from the South-West disclosed that it was reasoned that he had been too politically-quiet to be marketed nationally within the time-frame for the election.

The party caucus was said to have reasoned that his involvement in the Buhari ticket might present the Buhari/Pastor Tunde Bakare’s 2011 ticket scenario, which reportedly failed mainly because the VP candidate could not deliver votes in his zone.

Fashola’s involvement, according to the party’s blue-print, was primed to deliver votes across Yorubaland and, at the same time, deny Jonathan the possibility of 25 per cent constitutional requirement.

APC also believed that Buhari/Fashola’s ticket would sweep Ondo and Ekiti states, currently governed by PDP governors, though the party was not that optimistic on the governorship elections.

In Lagos, Fashola would be expected to back the candidate of the party’s caucus which the national officer said was Akinwunmi Ambode.

When asked if Fashola had been officially informed, Nigerian Tribune was told “politics is not played that way.”

Nigerian Tribune was also told that former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, would not be begged to concede the presidential ticket to Buhari, because it could backfire if he decided to go public with the claim.

•Source (Except for amended headline): Nigerian Tribune. Photo shows Governor Amaechi, who may have been labouring in vain for APC.

Source: News Express

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