The emergence of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC has reignited the debate as to his prospects given what many consider as the difficulty in finding a running mate from Northern Nigeria to balance the ticket.
That difficulty is because Tinubu is a Muslim and the argument has arisen as to the difficulties for him finding a Christian to balance the ticket in the North.
Remarkably, that consideration has pushed forward the proposal that Tinubu should fly a Muslim-Muslim ticket on the note that that is the only way that the party can win.
It is an argument that does not consider the sensibilities of both the Christians in the North and those in the South who would easily revolt against the APC.
The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN has already warned against the proposal. It is significant that even Christian clerics especially in the North have been mobilsing members of their congregations to register for the election with the promise that the normally dormant Christian population would in 2023 rise to express themselves and punish those who ignore their faith in their tickets.
It is remarkable that some outgoing Muslim Northern governors have been at the arrowhead in canvassing for the Muslim-Muslim ticket to the extent that they stand to benefit by being picked as the running mate.
However, many have argued that there is a suffix of Christians in Northern Nigeria with the capacity to win votes for the APC if paired with Tinubu.
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau with the advantage of pulling his state into the voting bank is one prospect. As chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, he also stands with the advantage of pulling fellow Northern governors to support the ticket. His drawback, however, is that he has recently been challenged politically at home and under his watch, the APC lost the former safe Jos North seat to the PDP.
Another prospect is Mr George Akume, a former governor of Benue State who has been a trusted ally of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Picking him would make for a stable partnership between the potential president and vice-president.
Another prospect is former Speaker Yakubu Dogara who has the good luck of never having lost an election. He, however, has the disadvantage of not having a big constituency to back him as his influence is essentially within his federal constituency.
However, as a former speaker he has tentacles across the country that he could bring to bear in Northern Nigeria to the Tinubu ticket.
Another powerful prospect is Mr Boss Mustapha, the incumbent Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF. Mr Boss Mustapha, particularly has several advantages that could be to Tinubu’s favour. Politically, he was the erstwhile National Vice Chairman of the APC, and before then, Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN (Northeast). With political tentacles across the Northeast if not the North, Boss Mustapha as a former associate of Atiku Abubakar’s has the potential of neutralising or checking the PDP presidential candidate in the Northeast as he is one that may be able to predict the schemes of the PDP candidate.
Another advantage of Boss Mustapha is that the Buhari Cabal who may be disdainful of Tinubu could see him as a link that may bring them to commit to Tinubu. Even more, his management of the COVID-19 Task Force and affairs of government as chief scribe may positively count for him. The major drawback for Boss Mustapha is that he may not have the financial prowess to bring to the campaign.
Another prospect for Tinubu as a running mate in the North is Mr Babachir Lawal, the immediate past SGF. Babachir Lawal is a fighter who helped to manage Buhari behind the scene in the Northeast. He is, however, presently ensnared by legal issues arising from contract awards while he was SGF. If the case is finished before the campaigns it may not be counted against him.
Besides the above, there are other Christians in Northern Nigeria that the Tinubu campaign may check up to avoid the snare of the Muslim-Muslim ticket.