Tinubu will choose running mate, not APC governors – Uzodinma

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Hope Uzodimma

Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, yesterday warned against actions capable of endangering national unity and cohesion

Speaking to State House correspondents after a meeting with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the governor said the choice of the running mate would be decided by Tinubu and not APC governors.

He said if the choice was left to him, he would consider religious denomination, ethnicity, followership, and factors that would create spread since the business of politics was to win elections.

Fielding a question on Muslim-Muslim tickets and the choice of a running mate, he said: “There are internal characteristics that the decision-maker may consider in the process of making his decision. The decision whether to choose Mr A or Mr B to be a running mate to a candidate is entirely that of the candidate.

“You started by saying the governors of the South- East are complaining of not having the opportunity of being a running mate anymore. But that is not the sole ambition of Southeasterners, talk more of the governors. In the business of presidential primaries, there is no election for a vice-presidential candidate. The business there is just to elect a candidate.

“In that ballot paper, there is no room for delegates to vote for who will be your running mate. So, that explains why it is not a decision for the public. It is the decision of the candidate. The first thing to do is to let the candidate emerge. Now a candidate has emerged.

“Now the candidate will factor into consideration some ideas and issues like how to create a spread. Spread is very important to be able to attract votes. So, the decision of who becomes your running mate, if I were the candidate, what will inform it is an action that will enable me to get the kind of votes I’m looking for because the ultimate goal is to win the election.

“So, maybe I’ll start from the denomination, ethnicity, or followership. In this business of democracy, I think the number is what is very important. And there are certain things as a nation, we should not bring to the public discourse.

“Those things that are capable of creating divisiveness against national unity should not be encouraged. It does not mean that I will not remember that I come from a place but I must also be cautious about how to use where I come from in taking national decisions.

“The second question which is about a running mate, South-East is not meant for running mate. 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, it is partisan democracy, the minority will have their view but the majority will have their way. In the wisdom of the delegates that elected presidential candidate, a candidate has emerged, our party APC will come together, work for our candidate and produce the next president.”

When asked to comment on the alleged move by Tinubu to run with a Muslim-Muslim ticket, the Imo governor argued that the Nigerian Constitution does not dwell on religion as a factor in the selection of a presidential running mate.

‘Religion not a constitutional factor’

He said: “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 a united Nigeria where governance will be the issue, where a president would be adjudged by his capacity to deliver democratic dividends, develop Nigeria to look like other parts of the Western world where democracy is working.

“I don’t want us to reduce governance in Nigeria to certain things that will encourage divisiveness. Rather, we should be a united Nigeria, be our brother’s keepers, and have a president of Nigeria that will be a president representing every tribe, every religion, and every denomination, and when we get there, we will cross the bridge.

“The decision to choose a running mate does not reside with any of us, the governors. It is the presidential candidate that will look at the local characteristics and every factor, political and apolitical that will make him win his election and take the decision. So, it’s not a decision that we will sit here and take for the candidate.”

The Imo State Governor admonished that each section of the country requires the others to be able to produce the president, saying that the South-East zone will work on what has so far prevented it from reaching the goal.

According to him, “When I appeared on Channels in the morning of the convention I told you that one of the conventions governing our polity in Nigeria is a power shift. That power comes to the north and goes to the south. When the power came to the south, in 1999, we ceded it to South West and all of us voted as Nigerians.

“The next time power came to the South, it went to South-South and all of us voted as Nigerians. We expected that now that power came back to the South, it will go to the South-East but this is not a decision that a geopolitical zone alone can take.

“No geopolitical zone can become a president without the participation of other political zones. So, when you don’t get the co-operation, you begin to find out why and you work towards getting the cooperation next time because it has to be a united country for you to become president.

“We are not talking about the president of South-East, South-South or South-West. We are talking about the president of Nigeria. For a Southerner to become president, he needs the votes from the North, for a northerner to become the president he needs the votes from the South.”

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