A delegation of northern leaders, including Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano, has been assigned to meet with the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, over ‘vital concerns’ regarding his proposed running mate.
The development comes barely 24 hours after the defection of the two-term Governor of Kano State and Senator representing Kano Central Senatorial district, Ibrahim Shekarau.
Shekarau, whose defection was announced on Wednesday by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during the plenary, had defected from the All Progressive Party to team up with the presidential candidate of New Nigeria Peoples Party, Dr Rabiu Kwankwaso, in May.
Just as some of his contemporaries who left in a gale of defection, Shekarau stated in his resignation letter that he dumped the ruling APC over the unresolved issues of injustice, marginalisation and unfairness by Kano State Governor.
Shekarau’s defection and unholy alliance with Kwankwaso have allegedly unsettled the APC and further changed the direction of ongoing consultation and negotiation among the northern governors.
A party chieftain, who craved anonymity, told PUNCH that Shekarau’s defection and proposed coalition between the NNPP and Labour Party’s presidential flagbearer, Peter Obi, has changed the dynamics of the negotiation.
“What it means is that usual bloc votes for the APC in the Kano and Kaduna could be decimated by the NNPP and leave in a disadvantaged position. This could worsen if the party runs with a Muslim-Muslim and NNPP unveils Obi to the Christian residents in the North West.
“I think this is why the negotiation table has changed in the favour of North East where even the Muslim-Muslim we are likely to run with can coast us to victory.
“That can only happen if the North West assent to it. This conflict is partly why the issue of vice-presidential slot has dragged on for this long,” he said.
However, rising from a meeting of APC governors, gubernatorial candidates and ministers in Kaduna, North-West leaders also resolved to rather meet with Tinubu to present their case.
This was contained in a statement issued by APC National Vice-Chairman (North-West), Salihu Lukman, on Thursday in Abuja.
Lukman disclosed that the meeting welcomed the initiative to commence the consultative meeting as vital for strengthening the APC in the North-West as well as to improving leadership engagements and cohesion within the zone.
According to him, the governors and political office holders reviewed the state of the party at the national and zonal levels.
They also acknowledged the challenges facing some APC state chapters and resolved to promote efforts at reconciliation as an urgent priority.
He said, “The meeting noted the contribution of the North-West to the emergence and growth of the APC and its electoral viability, with the North-West providing about 39% of the votes the APC recorded in 2019 and 2015 presidential elections.
“Therefore, the zone resolved to aggregate its interests and vital concerns and engage accordingly with the presidential candidate of the party,” he stated.