Fresh information emerged on Saturday that the Tinubu camp had ruled out Lalong and Mustapha, who is from Adamawa State, and might settle for a core Muslim northerner, regardless of their advantage of being Christians.
One of those involved in the consultation for Tinubu’s running mate pointed out that the party might settle for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Reliable sources close to Tinubu also indicated that the former Lagos State governor would rely on the input of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and members of the Progressives Governors’ Forum on who should be his running mate.
The pressure to pick a Muslim as his running mate, it was learnt, was to assuage his many supporters in the North due to indications that there were no popular Christian politicians to sway votes in favour of the APC in the region.
A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the sensitive issue, affirmed that four men were in contest for the position. The source said, “We have Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State; a former governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima; Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State; and Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State.”
It was learnt that the Governor of Borno State, Prof Babagana Zulum, made a case for Shettima when Tinubu visited the state during his consultation with delegates. Shettima is a strong supporter of the APC candidate and he spoke out in Tinubu’s defence after his Abeokuta outburst.
Another source noted, “However, the President and the members of the Progressives Governors’ Forum will play key roles in deciding the running mate. You will be surprised to know that Zulum made a case for Shettima when Asiwaju visited Borno during the campaign. He said, ‘Jagaban, please I am going to ask for two favours from you. I want you to pay attention to my state and also consider my principal, Senator Shettima, as your running mate. He has good things to offer and you will enjoy him’.
“For now, the running mate may have to come from these four men.”
It was gathered that Lalong’s name was dropped because he’s known to be very close to the former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who came second during the primary.
The source said, “From fresh considerations, we cannot pick Lalong or Boss Mustapha. Apart from his closeness to Amaechi, a factor we are not very comfortable with, Lalong is from the North-Central, which is not a core northern state. Plateau is also considered not to be strategic enough to win elections in northern Nigeria. Using him will be like alienating the entire northern Nigeria.
“Concerning Boss Mustapha, well, he is not with us. Though he belonged to the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria like Tinubu, he does not identify with him. He was not part of our campaign and has yet to visit the aspirant (as of Saturday afternoon) since he won the primary.
“In his home state of Adamawa, it’s known that Mustapha cannot win an election there. So, why will you impose such a man on an aspirant that needs the huge votes from the northern region?”