•Labour Party candidate seeks young northerner as VP nominee
By Nnamdi Ojiego & Ibrahim Hassan Wuyo
Presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPC), Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, yesterday, raised hope on the possibility of teaming up with his Labour Party counterpart, Mr Peter Obi, to contest the 2023 general elections.Kwankwaso spoke on a day Peter Obi was said to be considering a young northerner as his running mate for the 2023 election.
Meanwhile, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, at the weekend, intensified his search for substantive vice presidential candidate.Both Peter Obi and Tinubu had, on Friday, named running mates in placeholding capacities to beat the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deadline for the submission of the names of those on presidential tickets of all parties.
Whereas Tinubu named Alhaji Ibrahim Kabir Masari as his placeholder running mate, Peter Obi picked Dr Doyin Okupe.
The candidates have up till August, according to the INEC schedule, to substitute the placeholder nominees with substantive vice presidential candidates.
Speaking on the potential coalition with Peter Obi in an interview with the BBC Hausa, yesterday, Kwankwaso said: “Yes, we are discussing with Peter Obi,or I will rather say a committee is working to see all that is necessary on teaming up with him, and our friends and relations have been coming to talk to us over the issue.
”The former governor of Kano State explained that their teaming up is important,looking at the fact that the APC and PDP did not pick their vice presidential candidates from the Igbo.
But Okupe, who is also the Director General of Peter Obi’s Presidential Campaign organisation, spoke on a television programme in Lagos at the weekend, saying the ultimate goal of his principal was to find a way to bring the dream and aspiration of handing over power to young Nigerians.
“We are considering someone much less in age to Obi and of northern descent as the running mate to Peter Obi ahead of the 2023 presidential election”, he added.
The former presidential aide to Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan confirmed that he was just a placeholder until the ongoing consultations and coalition in the LP were concluded.
When asked about the Christian-Christian ticket affecting Obi’s chances, Okupe said, “Nigerian youths must move closer to the Labour Party because we are prepared to make any sacrifice to have them take back the country.
We are willing to make ourselves available at any cost so that Nigerian youths can ride on our backs to power and that includes the position of the vice president.
“The choice of Okupe as VP candidate is in consonance with the Nigerian Constitution and Electoral Act.
Our ultimate goal is to find a way to bring our dream and aspiration of handing over power to young Nigerians.
We are considering someone much less in age than Obi and of northern descent.
“We are also considering so many things like a coalition with the third force, we need NNPP, SDP and everybody.”
Tinubu intensifies search
The Director of Media of Tinubu Campaign Organisation, Bayo Onanuga, while disclosing that the APC presidential candidate was taking advantage of the long window period by INEC to substitute names to search for a credible and competent running mate, confirmed, at the weekend, that Masari was the name submitted to the electoral body as the vice-presidential candidate. “Yes, he is Ibrahim Masari.
He once worked as a member of the National Working Committee when Adams Oshimhole was in charge of the APC exco”, Onanuga said.“
He is not really a surrogate per se. He is just holding forth. The Electoral Act stipulates that candidates have the window period to substitute up till sometime in August.
“Asiwaju will use that time to continue consulting with the party, governors and the president. He is taking his time and
doesn’t want to rush it,” he said.
Asked why it was taking too long to get a competent and sellable candidate for the post of vice president, the campaign spokesperson said that the APC flagbearer believed in due process.“He just wants to carry everybody along.
Even the elections will take place in 2023 and the campaign wouldn’t start until September.
The window period is still long. There is no need to rush anything about it.
“I think we have fulfilled our part by submitting the name as required before the window of INEC deadline closes,” Onanuga stated.