APC narrows search for Buhari’s running mate to South West

Muhammadu Buhari

Nigeria’s main opposition party, All Progressives Congress, APC, has resolved to confine its search for a vice presidential candidate for the 2015 election to the country’s South West, a day after electing former military ruler, Muhammadu Buhari, as its flagbearer for the polls, those familiar with the matter have told PREMIUM TIMES.

Mr. Buhari, from the North West, defeated four other contenders Thursday to emerge APC’s presidential candidate, set to challenge President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in February.

The former military ruler’s running mate is expected to come from southern Nigeria- one among South West, South East, and South South.

But the party has yet to agree on a choice after 24 hours of intense negotiations and talks between its top leaders.

Party officials told PREMIUM TIMES on Friday that except the APC decides to reverse its decision, the searchlight has been narrowed to states in southwest alone.

The reason, they said, is the belief that only the South West delivered to Mr. Buhari approximately 100 per cent block votes.

Officials believe that while the South East and South South regions supported Mr. Buhari by voting for him, significant portions of those votes were also shared with other candidates, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governors Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano and Rochas Okorocha of Imo State.

There was speculation on Friday that the Governor of Rivers state, Rotimi Amaechi, had been chosen as Mr. Buhari’s running mate.

However, one senior official of the party denied the plan.

“The South West gave General 100 per cent of their votes and so it is only fair that they get to produce the vice president,” the source, who declined to be named because the issue is not yet official, said.

The official also said a “victory” dinner was held at the resident of one of the national leaders of the party, Bola Tinubu, in Ikoyi after the election on Thursday and the matter was discussed briefly.

“Another round of meeting was held today, there will be another one tomorrow here in Lagos, but I believe probably the last meeting will be held in Abuja on Monday after which whoever is selected will be made known,” he said.

Parties have up to December 18 to submit names of their candidates to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

The choice of South West to produce the Vice President is also strategic because Mr. Buhari is expected to get substantial votes from the northern states and will need to get the votes from the South West to stand any chance of upstaging incumbent President Jonathan.

Mr. Buhari got 3,430, to beat the other candidates, who also included publisher, Sam Nda-Isaiah.

Atiku got 954 votes, Kwankwaso: 974, Rochas Okorocha: 624 and Mr. Nda Isaiah: 10 votes.

Among the major contenders to the vice presidential ticket are Yemi Osibanjo, a professor of Law, who was the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Lagos state under Governor Tinubu.

The immediate past governor of Ekiti state, who also chaired the National Convention Planning Committee of the primary, Kayode Fayemi, is also under consideration.

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