June 14, (THEWILL) – Imo State governor, Hope Uzodinma, on Tuesday, said the choice of a running mate by the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2023 general elections, lies with the Presidential candidate of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Bola, and not the progressive governors.
“The decision to choose a running mate does not reside with any of us the governors. It is the presidential candidate that will look at the local characteristics and every factor, political and apolitical that will make him win his election and take the decision. So it’s not a decision that we will sit here and take for the candidate”, the Governor told State House Correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari over his planned state visit to commission some projects executed by his administration.
According to him, the ruling party, having held a successful convention that led to the emergence of Tinubu as the party’s flag bearer, the choice of a running mate will take into consideration all the indices that will promote fairness and unity of the country.
On the insinuations that the APC was planning to feature a Muslim-Muslim ticket, the Imo governor said, there is nowhere in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where religion is a factor or characteristic as to who becomes the President or who becomes the running mate.
He said: “But we are looking for united Nigeria, where governance will be the issue, where a president would be adjudged by his capacity to deliver democratic dividends, develop Nigeria to look like other parts of the Western world where democracy is working.
“I don’t want us to reduce governance in Nigeria to certain things that will encourage divisiveness, rather, we should be a united Nigeria, be our brother’s keepers, have a president of Nigeria that will be a president representing, every tribe, every religion, every denomination. And when we get there, we will cross the bridge.
“The decision also to choose a running mate does not reside with any of us the governors. It is the presidential candidate that will look at the local characteristics and every factor, political and apolitical that will make him win his election and take the decision. So it’s not a decision that we will sit here and take for the candidate.”
On if he would like to see a governor as a running mate to Tinubu, Uzodinma, “Why not? Ahmed Tinubu, have you forgotten he was a governor for eight years? If he chooses a governor so be it, we will support it. For now, we are no longer talking about who becomes running mate and who is not running mate. I have told you whose decision it is. The next thing as party leaders now and opinion leaders is for us to rise up, mobilise the quality and get members of our party to commit to a successful election by 2023. So that our president that is leaving will also be handing over to our own president of APC, that is our preoccupation now how to win the election.”
On how the southeasterners can put their house in order in order to be able to achieve what they want in future, especially as he said the Constitution is not against the issue of single faith ticket, Uzodinma said: “I did not say is not about single faith ticket.
“I said these are internal characteristics that the decision-maker may consider in the process of taking his decision. The decision whether to choose Mr A or Mr B to be a running mate to a candidate is entirely that of the candidate.
“You started by saying the governors of the South East are complaining of not having the opportunity of being a running mate anymore. But that is not the sole ambition of the southeasterners, talkless of the governors to be a running mate. And in the business of presidential primaries, there is no election for a vice presidential candidate, the business there is just to elect a candidate.
“In that ballot paper, there is no room for delegates to vote for who will be your running mate. So that explains why it is not a decision for the people. It is a decision of the candidate. The first thing to do is to let the candidate, now that a candidate has emerged.
“Now the candidate will factor into consideration some ideas and issues like how to create a spread. Spread is very important to be able to attract votes. So the decision of who becomes your running mate, if I were the candidate, what will inform it is what will I do as an action that will enable me to get the kind of votes I’m looking for because the ultimate goal is to win the election.
“So maybe I’ll start from the nomination, ethnicity, or followership. In this business of democracy, I think numbers are what is very important. And there are certain things as a nation, we should not bring to the public discourse, those things that are capable of creating divisiveness against national unity should not be encouraged. It does not mean that I will not remember that I come from a place but I must also be cautious and careful about how to use where I come from in taking national decisions. That is very important.
“When I appeared on Channels on the morning of the convention, I told you that one of the conventions governing our polity in Nigeria is a power shift. That power comes to the North and goes to the South. When the power came to the South, in 1999, we seeded it to South West and all of us voted as Nigerians.
“The next time power came to the South, it went to South-South and all of us voted as Nigerians. We expected that now that power came back to the South, it will go to South East but this is not a decision that a geopolitical zone alone can make. No geopolitical zone can become a president without the participation of other political zones. So when you don’t get the cooperation, you begin to find out why and work towards getting the cooperation next time, because it has to be a united country for you to become a president.
“We’re not talking about President of South East, president of South-South or president of Southwest, we are talking of the president of Nigeria. For a southerner to become a president he needs to vote for the North, for a northerner to become the president he needs the vote from the South.
“In our constitution, in two-thirds of the states, you must have at least a minimum of 25% votes registered in those states. Today, so we’ll look at the guidelines. We’ll look at the rules. Our country is a rule-driven country and the grand norm is the constitution of the country. So we’re working with it.
“All we’re saying is that for equity, for fairness for justice, that there are certain sentiments to be considered when we’re taking national decisions but we don’t think that is enough to disorganise our country. We must move forward.”