President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday held a crucial meeting with the Progressives Governors’ Forum as the search for running mate to the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu begun.
The party leaders are said to be discussing the criteria for selecting a suitable person, including experience, educational credentials and geo-political balance.
It was gathered that they are also considered the possibility of fielding a running mate who has a deep knowledge of the economy.
The consultation on the choice of an acceptable candidate continues, a source said.
The parley was attended by the Chief of Staff to the President Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, PGF Chairman and governor of Kebbi State Senator Atiku Bagudu, Governors Babagana Zulum (Borno), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Yahaya Bello (Kogi) and Hope Uzodimma (Imo).
Uzordimma, who was at the meeting, said the constitution is silent on the religion and tribe of the vice presidential candidate.
He told State House Correspondents the decision on the choice of running mate lies with Tinubu and not the governors.
He, however, said if the choice was left for him, he would consider religious denomination, ethnicity, followership, and geographical spread since the business of politics is to win election.
On the possibility of a Muslim/Muslim ticket, Uzodimma said the Nigerian Constitution does not dwell on religion as a 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 united Nigeria, where governance will be the issue, where a president would be adjudged by his capacity to deliver democratic dividends, develops 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, have a president of Nigeria that will be a president representing, every tribe, every religion, every denomination, and when we get there, we will cross the bridge.
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“The decision also 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 factors, 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,” he said.