Saturday, 13 December 2014

2015 Presidency: The Man who will be Running Mate to Buhari

Naturally, one would think the best man to work with Muhammadu Buhari is Adams Oshiomhole but in the game of politics, it is never as simple as you think. There are a lot of factors to consider. South-South man was the Vice President and later became President. APC is not widespread in South-East.
Hence, from what has been gathered thus far, it appears the position will go the South-West that has the highest support base for the APC.
After the emergence of General Buhari as the presidential candidate of the APC, the party’s next hurdle is the selection of his running mate. According to INEC regulations, the deadline for the submission of the names of vice presidential running mates is up.

Is the emergence of a Muslim front-runner a missed opportunity?
Analysts say with religion and ethnicity becoming major issues in the last few years, the APC would have to play its card carefully if it is serious about winning the election.

Even in Lagos, that was once thought to be the country’s capital of liberal politics, APC was forced to field a Christian candidate this time in response to the present realities.

LEADERSHIP checks revealed that the only way to defeat the ruling party is for the APC to win the north as a block and also win the south west as a block. The party must substantially block President Jonathan out of the north and south west. This is because Jonathan is most likely to get block votes from the south east, and in spite of the incursion of the APC into the south-south, when it comes to the presidential election in 2015, he is likely to sweep the region.

APC’s greatest challenge will, therefore, be finding the right mix of ticket that will achieve this.

Out of an estimated 70 million registered voters on the roll of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the north (as a block) and the south west have a combined figure of 51 million registered voters.

Analysts argued, however, that to deliver the two zones as a block and shift the battleground elsewhere, the APC candidate and his running mate must get votes from the different religious and ethnic groups that make up the two zones. This appears to be the only way to erode the potential advantage of the incumbent president.

One analyst said, “People should be talking about security, jobs, corruption and education, but that’s not happening because the politics of the last few years has forced these issues to take a back seat.

“The only way to get the candidates, especially the incumbent candidate, to run on his record, is for the APC to present a pair of candidates who will challenge the PDP on its deadly grounds of religion and politics.”

Sources at the party’s screening last two weeks revealed that apart from getting the aspirants to sign an undertaking to be of good conduct, the APC also ruled out the chance of a same-faith ticket.

Party sources mentioned four main potential running mates: 
Imo State governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha; Lagos State governor Babatunde Fashola; Edo State governor Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Osun State governor Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. Ex-Lagos attorney-general and commissioner for Justice Professor Yemi Osinbajo has also been mentioned.
The APC may announce its running mate anytime because, as one insider put it, "time is running out."

Our checks revealed that before the convention, the party’s top hierarchy was already playing “a pairing game” against the ruling party's candidate, President Jonathan. Jonathan has already announced Vice President Namadi Sambo as his running mate.

“The APC,” our source said, “appears to be facing a Siamese dilemma. In the light of what religion and ethnicity have done to our politics in the last few years, especially with the advent of Boko Haram, the choice of the party’s presidential candidate is joined at the hip with that of the running mate, right from the start.”

Which running mate gives the APC candidate the best chance to combine the healing the country needs with an element of surprise that could catch the ruling party on the back foot?

Pairing Buhari:
Who would potentially be Buhari’s running mate to help balance the ticket? An insider said that except APC is determined to lose, a same-faith ticket is dead on arrival.

That may explain why its screening committee rejected it outright. That rules out Fashola and Aregbesola, regardless of their electoral value, since both are Muslims.

As for Amaechi and Oshiomhole, our checks revealed that it is unlikely that the south-south would dump its current number one spot and vote for a Buhari-Amaechi or Buhari-Oshiomhole ticket that only offers them second fiddle, which they are not even sure of getting.

In any case, a ticket that excludes the south west is likely to pave the way for Jonathan to split the region with the APC considering that Jonathan’s men currently control Ondo and Ekiti states. Jonathan got 25 per cent of the votes in the south west in 2011, although sources said this was made possible because of the last minute deal with Tinubu. In a post-Boko Haram era, sources said the party would face an uphill task with the Christian north, which has between 10 to 40 per cent Christian population, depending on the state, and especially in the North central.

And Okorocha? His performance at yesterday’s primary makes him a potentially “pairable” candidate.
Because of his extensive network, Okorocha would not only help reinforce Buhari’s hold in parts of the north, he may also get him Christians and south east votes.

But the South-East appears to be so firmly in Jonathan’s grip, it is doubtful how much of the zone’s seven million block votes can swing victory for the APC.

To make matters worse, a Buhari-Okorocha ticket leaves the south west vulnerable to a Jonathan raid.

This puts Prof Osinbajo, described by party insiders as “a good man,” in good stead. Our checks even hinted that his link to the Awolowo dynasty is a bonus to be harvested.

Osinbajo was said to have laid the foundation for the radical changes in the Lagos Judiciary, later copied by many other states and the Federal Government.

Osinbajo, sources said, is a man of strong integrity and pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God. A professor of law and senior partner in Simmons Coopers, he has written two major books.

A trusted, dependable hand and a pillar of the Tinubu think tank, Osinbajo could be in pole position to emerge as Buhari’s running mate.

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