2023 PDP, APC Running Mate: Between Winning Strategy & Religious Preference

THE RUNNING MATE DEBATE by Ogunleye Rotimi Williams

The debate on who becomes the running mate to both the presidential candidates of APC and PDP has largely been hinged on religious preference, geographical area and win-ability of the 2023 election factors.

The reason is simple; the three leading candidates – Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar and Peter are both christians and Muslims, they represent the North and the South. The circumstances of their emergence also point to the reason the debate on their running mates is premised on the earlier mentioned factors.

Our nation is experiencing a period of self deconstruct. In 1999, the two major political parties then ceded the political space to southern candidates in atonement for the denial of the mandate of MKO Abiola which was considered a national injustice to Yoruba race.

The decision was widely applauded. I remember, in a national Television programme, Tony Iredia argued that though the concession was in the interest of national reconciliation, he however remarked that it could not assuage for the national order and sense of unity, devoid of religious and ethnic bias the ticket offered and the message the presidency of MKO Abiola, if declared and sworn-in, would have afforded our nation. But the outcome of the 1999 presidential election clearly established a national order tacitly supported by regional sympathy and sectional compromise.

Times have changed, the prevailing political calculations and desire to win elections have both compelled the PDP to renege on the principle of rotation that was instituted and nurtured by it through its presidential candidates selection process when in power.

The rotation and other factors no doubt contributed to a smooth transition from one democratic government to another democratically elected government (president) in Nigeria in 2007 regardless of the obvious deficiency attributed to the 2007 elections.

The PDP, to satisfy its hunger for power, went for Atiku Abubakar against the theory of rotation that has helped stabilized our democracy in a way. So many political arithmetics leading to the emergence of a northern candidate as the answer to their quests were propounded.

Regardless of any plausible arguement the PDP has offered, the chief reason behind their decision is the desire to get t back to power, not the national.order that propelled the party to institute the principle of rotation in 1999.

Going forward, the APC indeed has profited from the established rotational arrangement. The party picked the incumbent and his running mate on the basis of rotational, religious and win-ability factors. The choice of President Buhari and PYO indeed followed the established unwritten rule and that makes the party morally committed to zoning its ticket to the south.

So, while the APC, against the fear of losing the 2023 election, zoned presidency to the south, it has also faced the problem of religious balancing which is inherent in the unwritten zoning credo established and discarded by the PDP.

Our nation, again is faced with an opportunity to deconstruct the zoning arrangement and the religious balancing that portends landmines as we continue in democratic system of governance. Should we continue to use the zonal, religious and ethnic factors as important variables in deciding the fates of who govern us?

The question of factors that determine the choice of a leader has always been a national question that it would appear time and certain events may have presented the opportunity to rewrite our history as a nation. While PDP has implemented its idea about what must be done to win election, the APC has responded stoically to national order in the interest of the nation. But what of win-ability?

A good and experienced candidate remains an ordinary citizen until he is able to win election. Judging from the testimony of his performance while he was the governor of Lagos State and the national concensus built around his candidacy, Bola Ahmed Tinubu is unarguably a professional with huge private sector experience, administrator and political master-planner that is capable of effecting desired impact on our nation if elected.

Religion has never been a factor in leadership choice in the south. While it has always been in the north, we need to commence a national discuss that will birth a national sense of commitment and unity. As enunciated in his acceptance speech, Asiwaju has expressed his desire to play down on religion, bring our consciousness to productivity, encourage a knowledge – based economy and the need to make sacrifice for our greatness as a nation. That is the right philosophy that is capable of developing a nation ravaged by acute short of purposeful leadership.

I do not want to assume that the south is not critical about religious balancing, with the recent experience, many may be concerned but we must be more concerned about the man in the saddle. Is he a man that is insensitive to our religious diversity at the detriment of others? Once the president is above board, educated and understands the imperative of conscious development of our nation, having a running mate of other faiths should not be a cog that will deny us of other abilities of his.

The APC is desirous of winning election across the nation to enable it and the people maximise the leadership potentials in Asiwaju Tinubu that has eluded the nation in the time past. We must not take our eyes off the cake and bother much about the icing vagaries.

While we await the preferred running mate candidate that will be offered by the North, we must salute their ability to keep to the zoning credo. We must judge them again by the quality and capacity of their nominee.

Written by: Ogunleye Rotimi Williams (A Political Analyst)
12th June, 2022.