Amidst speculations on the potential Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket in the All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State has said the country’s Constitution does not recognise religion as a factor in the choice of a running mate.
Mr Uzodinma, who served as co-chairman of the recent APC Convention Committee, said the focus should be on uniting the country and providing good governance.
He stated this on Tuesday while speaking with journalists at the State House, after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Social media has been awash with speculations that the party’s presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, may pick a northern Muslim as his running mate.
The former Lagos State governor, who is a Muslim from the South-west zone, is expected to pick a running mate from any of the three zones in the north.
Most Christian politicians from the north are from minority ethnic groups.
There are speculations that Mr Tinubu may opt for a Muslim running mate as the late Moshood Abiola did for the 1993 presidential election.
Mr Abiola, a Muslim from Ogun State in the South-west, had picked Babagana Kingibe, a Muslim from Borno State, as the vice-presidential candidate of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Mr Abiola was already coasting home to victory in the election when the then Babangida administration annulled the election.
Mr Uzondinma said the candidate has the prerogative of picking a running mate.
“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.
“But we are looking for united Nigeria, where governance will be the issue, where a president would be judged by his capacity to deliver democratic dividends, develop Nigeria to look like other parts of the western world where democracy is working,” he said.
Mr Uzodinma added that Mr Tinubu must consider “local characteristics and every factor— political and apolitical that will make him win his election.”
He stressed the need for the candidate to consider spread, noting that winning the election is the most important thing.
Furthermore, Mr Uzodinma commented on the presidential aspiration of the South-east.
Several APC presidential aspirants from the South-east, including the Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, and the former Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, had called for the micro zoning of the presidential ticket to the region.
While Mr Onu made the demand while speaking at the convention venue, Mr Nwajiuba stayed away from the event in protest against the failure of the ruling party to micro-zone the presidential ticket to the South-east.
Mr Uzodinma said the South-east is not interested in being a running mate, but rather to be president. He added that the region will have to rally around the candidate after the decision of the delegates.
“What we wanted as a zone was to be the president of Nigeria. And I was convinced that it was proper for us to ask for it. But in this business of partisan democracy, the minority will have their view but the majority will have their way,” he said.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) requires all presidential candidates will have to submit the names of their running mates to it by June 17.
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