Shettima: APC Cracks Widen
■ Why gov, South-East, South-South leaders shunned presentation of ex-Borno gov as Tinubu’s running mate
■ Although ruling party lacks reward system, Tinubu’ll reach out -Ayiri Emami
■ My successor above me in intellect, capacity –Shettima
From Fred Itua, Abuja
The crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), may have further escalated, few days after the official presentation of former Borno State governor, Senator Kashim Shettima as vice presidential candidate of the party by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Shettima’s choice as Tinubu’s running mate has been vehemently opposed by many Christian groups in Nigeria, many of who were not favourably disposed to a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Some moderate Muslim leaders from the North and South have also opposed Tinubu’s choice. President Muhammadu Buhari and some governors elected on the platform of the APC have, however, endorsed Shettima.
Shettima’s perceived unpopularity among some party leaders was highlighted during his presentation when about 11 APC governors boycotted the event.
APC leaders from the South East and South South, boycotted the event. Key presidential aspirants, who contested for the ticket, were also missing during the presentation of Shettima in Abuja.
Out of 22 APC governors, only about nine attended the event. They were chairman of APC Governors Forum and the Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu; Kano State Governor, Abdulahi Ganduje; Nasarawa State Governor, Abdulahi Sule; Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State; Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi; Osun State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola; Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zullum; Katsina State Governor, Bello Masari and Dapo Abiodun of Ogun state.
Deputy Governor of Kogi, Edward Onoja, represented his principal, Yahaya Bello. Top among those who boycotted the event, were former caretaker chairman of APC and governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni; Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai and Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, among others.
APC leaders from the South-East also boycotted the event. Key leaders who didn’t attend the event were former Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu; former Minister of Information, Ikeobasi Mokelu; former Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba; Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi; Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma and Senator Rochas Okorocha.
Besides Godswill Akpabio, no prominent leader from the South South, attended the event. The only APC governor from the South South, Ben Ayade, was also absent.
A source who spoke to Saturday Sun, said Tinubu’s refusal to reach out to aggrieved governors, consult widely with former aspirants during the selection of his running mate while snubbing South East delegates during the campaigns leading to the primaries were widening the crack between him and party leaders from the zone.
The source said there was also a gentleman’s agreement with Northern APC governors that one of them will be considered as running mate, but Tinubu snubbed them after clinching the ticket.
He further revealed that many governors supported other APC presidential aspirants, who are still unwilling to support Tinubu’s presidential ambition, until certain commitments are secured.
The source told Saturday Sun that meetings ought to have been held privately with various interest groups as soon as Tinubu emerged, but that such never happened.
“Tinubu won against the wish of certain persons in the APC. As soon as he won, it was expected that he was going to reach out to many groups. That didn’t happen. Instead, he hurriedly travelled abroad.
“Upon his return, he went ahead and announced his choice, Shetima as his running mate. From the attendance during the unveiling of Shettima, it was obvious that he didn’t carry many people along.
“The crack is growing and PDP leaders are secretly reaching out to these aggrieved members. That’s not good for us as a party. There is still time and I hope Tinubu can quickly mend fences and go into the elections with a united house,” the source said.
Another source who doesn’t want to be named, said during the campaigns leading to the primaries, Tinubu refused to consult or visit any state in the South East, with his team allegedly citing security concerns as reason for the snub.
“But he visited almost all the states in the North, where there’s more insecurity. Tinubu, from what we know, told South East delegates that he would meet them in Abuja. They felt insulted.
“The same thing happened in the case of South-South. Maybe he feels that he doesn’t need them to win the main election. That may not be true. Their anger was obvious when Shettima was presented. They snubbed Tinubu,” he revealed.
He told Saturday Sun that Tinubu might face stiffer opposition from Christian leaders in the APC, especially those from the North, who are angry that they were not considered as his running mate.
He said: “We hope that these people are appeased. The Christian community is angry. It is even difficult for APC members who are Christians to openly support Tinubu. You’ll be seen as an enemy by your people.
“If we must have a united party, we need to close our ranks. The belief that we’ve a united Muslim North supporting us is not true. Atiku is a Muslim and he’s from the North. It means we have to do more. The North will always stand by their own and Tinubu knows this fact.”
Meanwhile, a strong supporter of Tinubu, Chief Ayiri Emami, in a chat, said Tinubu will win by a landslide.
The APC chieftain, who admitted that the party lacks a good reward system, assured that Tinubu would reach out to aggrieved members.
Ayiri dismissed claims that top APC leaders boycotted the unveiling of Shettima, insisting that they’d other engagements.
He said: “APC doesn’t have a good reward system. But that’s why Tinubu is different. He won’t abandon anyone. He will reach out to aggrieved members. I urge everyone to take it easy and remain steadfast.
“What I can assure you is that, Tinubu will win this election. He will win in the South and get the North too. Remember that we have governors and leaders in all the States who are on standby to deliver votes on that day.”