Nine governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, after an hour-long closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at his private residence in Daura, Katsina State, declared their support for Senator Kashim Shettima as running mate to the party’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in the 2023 general election.
The governors, led by the chairman of Progressives Governors’ Forum, Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State, including their host, Aminu Masari (Katsina), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Abubakar Bello ( Niger), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Hope Uzodinma (Imo), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Simon Lalong (Plateau) and Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), said they had come to pay Sallah homage to President Buhari.
They expressed confidence in the combination of both Tinubu and Shettima to ensure victory for the party at the presidential election.
Bagudu said: “We were pleasantly surprised when Asiwaju Tinubu announced in Daura on Sunday that Senator Shettima was the vice presidential candidate.
“We are very happy at the choice. The two will complement each other and will surely consolidate on the achievements of the President in the past seven years.”
Also speaking, the Imo governor, Uzodinma, said Shettima’s pick as Tinubu’s running mate was a collective decision by all the progressives governors and all the APC governors would work hard to ensure victory for the party next year. He boasted that APC governors would deliver 22 states for Tinubu.
Sources, however, disclosed to The Guardian that APC governors from the Northwest geopolitical zone have decried the choice of Shettima.
A former governor from one of the states, who is now a Senator, confided in The Guardian that incumbent governors from the zone are angry with Tinubu for despising their demand that one of them should be considered.
The Senator disclosed that during series of consultative meetings, the APC presidential candidate was given reasons why he should pick an incumbent, especially from Northwest, but he regretted that Tinubu shamed the governors after they worked for his emergence.
“The governors are very angry now and I do not know how this is going to affect our participation in the election next year. We all know the place of governors in the scheme of things in this country.
“During the consultative meetings that were held to ensure that everybody was on the same page, the governors pointed to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where one of them is the running mate. They said they needed that to be sure that they would have a stake in the next administration.
“When Tinubu indicated his desire to look towards Northeast for his running mate, our governors reminded him of how far they went to override President Buhari and ensure that he won the presidential primary. They argued that if he (Tinubu) wanted to go to Northeast for balance, he was invariably showing that the ticket should have gone to Southeast,” the Senator narrated.
He further stated: “Now that Shettima has been chosen, the governors are wondering what they would campaign for in the zone. They are now looking towards Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and Atiku Abubakar to be relevant in the incoming dispensation.
“Things are going to be very challenging for us in the zone, because you have seen that the Labour Party has selected its presidential running mate from Northwest. We all thought that Tinubu would settle for el-Rufa’I or Abubakar Bagudu. He has disappointed everybody and this is a sign of the kind of administration he wants to run,” the source remarked.
The Senator disclosed that it was out of pain and indignation over the development that some governors did not accompany their colleagues to pay Sallah homage to President Buhari, whom they blame for being careless about his succession plan.
MEANWHILE, the Bishop of Anglican Communion, Diocese of Calabar, Rt. Rev. Nneoyi Egbe, has warned that Muslim/Muslim or Christian/Christian ticket should not be encouraged, adding that Nigeria’s secularity must be respected. He stated this, yesterday, during a media briefing at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, to mark the second session of the 11th Synod of the Diocese of Calabar scheduled for July 13 to 17.
For the popular priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, Fr. Oluoma Chinenye John, also known as Fada Oluoma, if the ruling party wins in 2023, Muslims would continue in power after Tinubu’s administration.
Oluoma expressed concerns that the move by APC would continue to trigger religious sentiments in the country. He, however, urged aggrieved citizens to vote for other political parties, stressing that other candidates were ready to change the status quo.
He said: “APC is just one party, we have other parties in Nigeria. One of the beauties of democracy is the availability of options. Crying over APC’s candidates in the midst of other candidates questions our readiness to change the status quo or our capacity to make and accept informed decisions.
“There’s only one major reason behind the Muslim-Muslim ticket by APC; electoral victory. Without a Muslim VP, the APC will lose significant votes from the North and probably lose the entire presidency. This is the fear and the reason for a Muslim VP. Don’t let anyone beguile you to make it a religious problem, if you do, you will keep losing the big picture.
“If APC wins 2023 presidency, Nigeria will be democratically handing over power from one Muslim to another. This means that religious sentiments can be thumped in our quest for a better nation. That also means that kindred sentiments like tribe and region can also be thumped,” he said.
IN the same vein, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, has said the decision by APC to present a Muslim-Muslim ticket was a teamwork based on calculation of what would work for the party.
In a statement he personally signed on Monday, Kukah said the decision by Tinubu to pick Shettima as his running mate should not be a thing to worry about, while those angered by the development should support other candidates they feel are better.
The statement reads: “This is what you call team selection and everybody will choose depending on what they think will give them a fair chance. So, people will take responsibility for the choices they have made. For me, it is not something to lose sleep over.
“If people feel unhappy with the kind of choices that have been made, that is why we are democrats, you can’t force it. We outsiders cannot force a choice of any candidate. It is now left for you to look at the choices that have been made. And there is no guarantee that all Christians will vote for Christians and all Muslims will vote for Muslims.”
THE Council of Church Leaders and Ministers in Nigeria has said that the APC Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket is trampling on the religious rights of Nigerians. Addressing a press conference in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital yesterday, the Council expressed disappointment in the choice.
The Chairman, Church Leaders and Ministers Fellowship of Nigeria, Pastor Abel Aiyedogbon, speaking at a press conference to herald their 26th yearly conference, said: “Our political leaders are not sensitive to the feelings of citizens because the behaviour of the political class most of the time evidently shows that personal ambition and interest are the overriding goal and not patriotism.
“How will anybody think about fielding candidates of the same religion for the first and the second place when the Constitution of the country recognises secularity?
“One will not be wrong to say that trampling on the religious rights of Nigerian is manifest in the idea of the Muslim-Muslim ticket, which some people are now championing. It should be noted that people maligned and presented as inconsequential are not likely to forget. The suggestion of a Muslim-Muslim ticket is all about impunity and a callous lack of consideration for others.”
FORMER Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South leader, Chief Edwim Clark, has lampooned the nomination of Shettima. According to Clark, the convener, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), with the action of Tinubu in appointing a Muslim to run with him, even as a Muslim, in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, he feels threatened for Nigeria as a country.
In a statement in Abuja, the elder statesman, who is the leader of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) lamented that with a very sharp division in the country, Tinubu’s action and that of the APC would further worsen the situation.
He said: “I feel threatened for our beloved country because of the way things are going. Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation, with Christianity and Islam as the major religions, even though Nigeria is a secular state.
“In compliance with Constitutional provisions of inclusiveness, the number one and number two positions in the country, viz, President and Vice President, have always been occupied by practitioners of the two major religions, to ensure balancing.
“It will be recalled that Tinubu could not be chosen in 2015 as VP to President Buhari because he is a Muslim. What has changed? One quality of a good leader is consistency. A good leader must act in the same way at all times, to all people. He must not display double standard.”
FORMER governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, has described the APC pairing as provocative and insulting in a secular country like Nigeria.
Ezeife, in a chat with newsmen, said Nigeria has two strong religions, Christianity and Islam, and wondered why anyone would consider fielding a Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket in the 2023 general elections.
“There was a time MKO Abiola and Kingibe, two Muslims, ran and won the election but that time had gone. We didn’t have the kind of religious intolerance that we have now, then.
“Yes, it happened in the past and that past had a different tone. We shouldn’t use it as precedence. This present time is pregnant with hatred, with all kinds of men exhibiting hatred for man and religion.
“If I were to meet Bola Tinubu tomorrow, I will tell him to change and have a Muslim-Christian ticket. It is just like saying, you Christians can go to hell. It looks like an insult, provocative to field Muslim-Muslim ticket or Christian-Christian ticket,” he said.
THE youth wing of apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide (OYC), in its reaction, has said that it is looming danger ahead.
OYC, in a statement signed by the National President, Mazi Okwu Nnabuike, said the choice of Shettima was against the law of natural justice. He said the level of killings and violence targeted at Christians under the present administration was unprecedented and expressed concern that the Christian community would become a totally endangered specie under a Muslim-Muslim presidency.
HOWEVER, President of the Senate and the Northeast caucus of the APC in the National Assembly have described the emergence of Shettima as the vice presidential candidate as an excellent choice. In a statement Lawan personally signed, on Monday, he said the former two-term governor of Borno State entered public service with impeccable credentials, which he has burnished by demonstrating great competence, integrity and courage in all the positions that he has held.
“On behalf of myself and the Northeast caucus of our great party, I congratulate Shettima on his nomination as the running mate to our presidential candidate. Tinubu and our party have made an excellent choice in Senator Shettima.”
ALSO, a group, Northern Progressive Christian Alliance (NPCA), has thrown its weight behind the APC Muslim-Muslim pairing. The group challenged people with evidence of Shetima’s link with Boko Haram to present their evidence.
The group said the decision to back Shettima was on the ground of competence, performance and love for Christians during his days as Borno governor. “It is high time Nigerians rose above ethnic or religious sentiments in the consideration of choice of leaders at all levels of governance,” it stressed.
The group, which disclosed this in a statement signed by the Chairman and Secretary, Reverend Moses Bwala Bitrus and Pastor Nicolas Abimaje respectively, said the election of a president and his running mate as well as other political positions shouldn’t be measured on basis of tribe, religion and regional interests, but on who can work and tackle the plethora of problems facing Nigeria.
Reacting to an allegation that Shettima was sponsoring Boko Haram, it stated: “We challenge those behind the allegations to provide evidence with an assurance that our group will mobilise Nigerians to reject him outright and if there is none, they should stop the campaign of calumny.”
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Wike’s romance with Tinubu’s men rattles Amaechi’s base
There are strong indications that the Rivers State All Progressives Congress led by immediate past Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, is angry about the romance between the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu’s men; and the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
Wike has in recent times been meeting with some APC chieftains, including Tinubu’s allies. On Monday, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was invited by Wike to inaugurate a road project.
The Rivers governor also invited former Governor Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila to inaugurate some projects in his state.
Earlier, some APC governors led by the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi, had also met Wike in his state amid his feud with the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar.
However, sources close to Amaechi, told The PUNCH that the romance between Wike and Tinubu was disrespectful especially since it was public knowledge that Wike and Amaechi were political foes.
They also accused Tinubu of supporting Senator Magnus Abe who recently dumped the APC to run for governor on the platform of the Social Democratic Party.
An associate of Amaechi who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said, “The APC leaders have been coming to Rivers State to lobby Wike and make all manner of promises to him. These people never came to Rivers even when the party was having a crisis.
“They should not forget that Amaechi came second in that presidential primary and is still the leader of the APC in Rivers State. Rather than rally around him, they have been romancing Wike. Tinubu is among the sponsors of Magnus Abe who has defected to the SDP.
“Magnus Abe is Tinubu’s boy. He is always with Tinubu. Even after joining the SDP, he is still with Tinubu and has promised to work for Tinubu’s campaign. Yet they cannot caution him.”
The source stated that Atiku might begin to woo Amaechi soon if quick action was not taken.
Speaking with The PUNCH, an APC chieftain, Chukwuemeka Eze, said he was not aware if Atiku had begun reaching out to Amaechi.
Eze, however, said if Amaechi decides to join the PDP, then Tinubu should be blamed.
He added, “If Amaechi decides to rejoin PDP, it may not be of his own making but due to the acts and attitude of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and managers of his campaign team coupled with the new style of leadership of those currently running APC.
“Let me state unequivocally that the manner and ways Amaechi and his political Team are being neglected both in the formation of the APC Presidential Campaign Council and most of the activities of the party since after the APC Presidential Convention is not the best way to treat a leader with the stature or status of Amaechi. You don’t do that.
“To worsen the situation, the manner in which Tinubu and his associates continued to associate with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State without any consultation with Amaechi or any member of his political family is not only sad but very unfortunate.”
Eze said Amaechi remained an institution in Rivers State politics and that anybody or political leader who feels he can undermine him is doing that at his or her own peril.
He recalled that Amaechi as the Director-General of the Presidential campaign that orchestrated President Goodluck Jonathan’s defeat in 2015
“Based on his rating, I will not be shocked if Atiku Abubakar is wooing him based on the fact that the two leaders are not only very close associates politically and but have remain great partners in the progress of this country so I have nothing against such a union,” he said.
When contacted, the Rivers State APC Publicity Secretary, Chris Finebone, told The PUNCH that Wike was desperate for an alliance with Tinubu and the APC to remain relevant after 2023.
Commenting on the romance between Tinubu’s men and Wike, he stated, “In politics, the concentric circles of conspiracy are numerous. Sometimes they overlap and other times they are incongruent. But very often, the end result is one – how to appropriate political power at the expense of others or competitors. Therefore, in the instant case, whether it is Asuwaju that is going after Governor Wike or the latter that is courting Asuwaju, the end result is how to survive 2023 general elections and remain politically relevant thereafter.
We know that the desperate party or side in the entire calculation is Wike. Reason is that head or tail with Atiku, he’ll lose. Assuming without conceding that Atiku wins, he’ll surely put away Wike in a cold manner. Wike understands this. In a scenario where Asuwaju/APC wins, Wike deserves the grace of God to walk free. He needs the protection post 2023 so badly. Therefore, it is clear that Wike is the one chasing after Asiwaju/APC and not the opposite.
Whether asked if the romance was a slap on Amaechi, he stated, “I have a biblical verse as an answer. ‘Thou sayest!’
Also in a chat with The PUNCH, the Deputy spokesman of the APC in the Rivers State, Darlington Uwauju, said Amaechi was one of the few political leaders that could be trusted and that he would not leave the APC for the PDP.
The Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the APC, Cornelius Ojelabi, said anyone was free to visit Wike as he was not Tinubu’s enemy.
On Tinubu’s alleged link to Magnus Abe’s defection, he said, “I don’t know anything about that. All I know is that politics is a game of numbers. When you are in a contest, you just have to approach all that is approachable and solicit support.”
On whether he sees the possibility of Wike forming an alliance or crossing over to the APC, Ojelabi responded, “It is all about passion and you know Wike has a passion for politics. Wike was part of the southern governors who came to Lagos State before now and said that the Southern governors won’t support any presidential candidate from the North.”
‘Wike a tactician’
Also speaking with The PUNCH, a former Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, who is also a Tinubu campaigner, said there was nothing wrong with the new romance with Wike.
Shittu said Amaechi should be happy that someone like Wike was being linked to the APC.
“Nobody will stop Wike if he wants to come to APC. Again, you know Wike is a tactician. If I were in Amaechi’s shoes, I would see Wike’s coming as an opportunity to settle reconcile with him. What he should be thinking of at that point is that with Wike coming into the party, will there be an in-fighting anymore?,” he asked.
Shittu also rubbished reports that Tinubu had a hand in Abe’s defection, adding that Tinubu could not be blamed for longstanding crisis in the party in Rivers State.
“Is it not a stupid idea for anybody to suggest that Abe is not intelligent enough to take a decision on his own? There are certain things that sound silly to one’s hearing, except that it is always news to the media.
“Abe has been running a battle politically with Amaechi. Even at the last governorship primary, he didn’t win the ticket to fulfil his ambition. Tell me, does he need anybody to tell him the next step to take if he fails to clinch the APC ticket,” he asked.
Shittu added that Tinubu was not fighting with Amaechi whom he described as a brother and friend. He noted that when Amaechi accused APC delegates of selling their votes, Tinubu refused to respond.
“Is he fighting Amaechi? Even when he alleged that some delegates were given bribes for vote-buying, did Tinubu say anything? That’s because he doesn’t want to join the fray. If you study Tinubu well enough, you will know that he doesn’t take issue with people. That’s why you see people who fight him coming back to him at the end of the day,” he said
When contacted, Atiku’s Media Adviser, Paul Ibe said reconciliation and discussions with Wike was still ongoing and declined further comment.
An analyst, Sunny Anyanwu, argued that it was almost impossible for Wike to defect to the APC, adding that he may have been hurt, but he would not dump the PDP.
‘’It will amount to a dog eating its vomit if Wike defects to APC. Yes I agree Wike has been hurt. The committee set up by the PDP to select a vice- presidential candidate recommended him but Atiku on his own picked Okowa. Now, it was like injustice was done to him. I don’t think Wike will finally settle for APC. I don’t think so. But if he does it, he has brought his personality to the mud, and he will have no political relevance again,’’ the lawyer submitted.
Amaechi could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Calls placed to the ex-minister’smedia aide,Paul Iyiofor, rang out and he had yet to reply to a text message seeking his comment on Wike’s alleged romance with Tinubu’s allies and other APC chieftains.
Meanwhile, the crisis in the PDP worsened on Tuesday with tWike, attacking a former senator, Lee Maeba, an ally of the PDP presidential candidate.
Wike and Maeba traded words over the governor’s statement on the control of the votes in the state and the benefits which accrued to Rivers when Atiku was the vice-president between 1999 and 2007.
Speaking on Tuesday at the inauguration of the dualised Ogbunuabali -Eastern Bypass Road which was performed by the former governor of Sokoto State, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, the governor said Maeba was wrong when he quoted him (Wike) to have said he was in charge of Rivers State’s votes..
This was contained in a statement issued by Kelvin Ebiri, media aide to the governor and made available to newsmen..
He said, “Because some people went to school late, they don’t understand when somebody says I am in charge of this state. I never said I am in charge of votes in this state. But I know I can talk to my people and my people will listen to me. Some people say, I have only one vote, I agree. I can’t vote two times. I will only vote once. But because of the services I have rendered to the people of this state, the state will listen to me.”
The governor stated that he had remained a consistent politician, not playing double games and urged Rivers people to be happy that they have a governor who would always defend the state.
The statement said, “Leadership is not about party, leadership is about individual. Party is only a vehicle to actualize your ambition, to be able to tell your people I have this capacity, I have this quality to render services to you.
“If you take me away today from the PDP to another party, I will still perform. So, it is not because I’m in the PDP that I’m performing. It is because I have that passion for my people. It is because I have the commitment to serve my people. Take me to the YPP, allow me to become whatever I will become there, I will perform. Take me to any party, I will perform. So, it is not the party that makes you perform.”
He stated that the state did not benefit from some politicians’ closeness to Presidents and Vice-Presidents.
Maeba replies Wike
But reacting to Wike’s comment, Maeba told The PUNCH that Rivers State benefited from Atiku on account of his and a former House of Representatives deputy speaker, Austin Opara’s closeness to the former vice-president.
The former federal lawmaker explained that his relationship with Atiku brought Intels, a logistics company owned by the PDP presidential candidate, to the state.
He said, “It (Relationship with Atiku) brought Intels. Atiku established Intels which employed many people. It was because of us that he (Atiku) invested more in Intels Rivers.
“Must friendship bring something? What has his (Wike’s) friendship brought to me? His friendship to me has only brought me pains; his friendship to me has brought me more pains.”
Also speaking in an interview with an online television station monitored by our correspondent, Maeba disclosed how Wike threatened to collapse the party if he failed to secure the party’s ticket to contest the 2023 presidential election.
He said, “Wike told me during one of our campaigns that if he failed the primary that he will collapse the whole system if they do to him what they did to (Ex-Rivers state governor, Peter) Odili. He said he will collapse the system and everybody will go home. That is the fear here.”
He wondered why the governor had refused to move on like Odili did when he failed in his bid to become the president in 2007.
I never told Tinubu to give Peter Obi a chance, seek treatment for his health – Ghana President
Ghananian President, Nana Akufo-Addo has denied writing a letter to the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, appealing to him to give the flagbearer of the Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi a chance in the forthcoming 2023 presidential election.
He said he never told Tinubu to seek treatment for his health as contained in the purported letter making the rounds on social media.
Akufo-Addo who is well known as a good leader, advised people via his verified Twitter handle to discountenance the story, noting that the letter is completely false and mischievous.
According to him: “My attention has been drawn to a disturbing post making the rounds on social media, where it is alleged I have written to the 2023 presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to “give Peter Obi a chance and seek treatment for his health”.
“This is completely false and mischievous, with no iota of truth whatsoever in it.
“I have written no such letter to the APC leader, and it will not occur to me to do so. Ghana and Nigeria boast of decades of cordial, strong and brotherly relations, and I am not going to be the one to interfere in the internal affairs and politics of Nigeria.”
Governance: Outside PDP, I’ll still perform — Wike boasts
GOVERNOR Nyesom Wike on Tuesday boasted that his widely acknowledged outstanding stewardship in office reflects his personal capacity and passion to deliver enduring development to Rivers state people and nothing to do with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) he belongs.
Wike during Tuesday’s commissioning of dualised Ogbunuabali – Eastern Bypass Road project in Port Harcourt, bragged, “Take me away today from PDP to another party, I will still perform. So, it is not because I’m in PDP that I’m performing.”
He said, “Leadership is not about party. Leadership is about individual. Party is only a vehicle to actualise your ambition, to be able to tell your people I have this capacity, I have this quality to render services to you.
“It is because I have that passion for my people, have the commitment to serve my people. Take me to YPP, allow me become whatever I will become there, I will perform. Take me to any party, I will perform. So, it is not party that makes you to perform.”
While comtemporaries use economic hardship as excuse for failing in rendering purposeful leadership and service to their people, Wike said he found same situation a more rewarding leverage for sustain delivery of projects to Rivers people.
Chiding perceived misguided Rivers politicians for twisting his assertion on Monday that the state was fully under his grips, Wike explained that, “Because some people went to school late, they don’t understand when somebody says I am in charge of this State.
“I never said I am in charge of votes in this State, but I know I can talk to my people and my people will listen to me. Some people say, I have only one vote, I agree. I can’t vote two times. I will only vote once. But because of the services I have rendered to the people of this State, the State will listen to me.”
The governor on the occasion lifted the ban on youths activities in Ogbunuabali and released N2 billion he promised the community, praising their cooperation while the road project lasted, after initially objecting to it.
Special guest on the occasion and former Governor of Sokoto State, Sen Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko who inaugurated the road project joined the growing list of top political leaders who continue to acknowledge the leadership capacity of Wike in service delivery to Rivers people.
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