As the politicking for the 2015 elections intensifies, indications point that prominent Northern politicians have commenced a search for a running mate to the region’s consensus presidential candidate.
According to sources with inside knowledge of the plan say that this yet-to-be- chosen consensus candidate would run on the ticket of the newly-formed All Progressives’ Congress.
The sources also said that power brokers in the region are considering the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola; his Edo State counterpart, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole; and Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State.
A highly-placed source in the APC, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the three governors were being considered, but none had been approached. He added that a condition for a running mate is that the person must be a “young progressive”.
“It is true we are looking for a suitable vice-presidential candidate from the South, particularly the South–West, because unless something dramatic happens, our flag bearer is coming from the North.
“The overwhelming thinking among members of the coalition is to have a young progressive, preferably one that has a track record of performance, for the post.
“As for the presidential candidate, everything being equal, we should know who the candidate is soon.
“For now, we have not yet agreed on who it should be but I can tell you Fashola is one of them, however, we cannot take a final decision on this until we are able to get leaders of his primary constituency to agree.”
The source added that the governors of Edo and Imo States were being considered as back-up plans, despite being from the outside the South-West.
The Convener of the Concerned Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, on Friday evening, also confirmed that the North was seeking a vice-presidential candidate in the South.
He said, “In the event of the presidency returning to the North, the issue will be who will deliver the votes from the South for the prospective candidate from the North.
“As I see it, the only person I see who can do it is from the South-West even though the South-West has its own challenges. Challenge number one will be to bring out a candidate from the Christian North who will now peer up with a likely candidate who will be from the South-West. Fortunately or unfortunately, the South-West is not terribly obsessed with matters of religion.”
One of the rumoured vice-presidential candidates, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, however said that the 2015 was not on his mind.
Speaking through his Special Assistant on Media, Mr Ebere Uzuokwa, Okorocha said he was committed to building a strong national party with the capacity to address the leadership problems facing the country.
“He already has a burden of justifying the mandate freely given to him by Imo people, by ensuring that they enjoy the dividend of democracy under his administration.
“Gov. Okorocha has always maintained that politics remains a process of assuming power and hence that is done, it should be discarded for development to take place.
“Even the dirty politics being played by the bad losers and enemies of democracy in Imo State and Abuja will not deter him from delivering good governance to the people through his well-thought-out programmes,” Uzuokwa said.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Mr Lateef Ibirogba also refused to confirm that Governor Fashola was being considered for vice-president in 2015.
“Governor Babatunde Fashola has a four-year mandate and he has done only two. He should be allowed to focus on that instead of us to start talking about the vice-presidential slot. He has a lot of things to do for the people who elected him. He must not be distracted so that he can deliver what he promised.’’
On the part of the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Oshiomole of Edo State, Peter Okhiria, he said he was unaware that his boss was being considered for running mate in 2015.
‘‘I do not know anything about that. I am not aware,” he said.
Similarly, the National Publicity Secretary of the Congress for Progressive Change, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, was hesitant to confirm the North’s search for a vice-presidential candidate.
He said the APC would cross the “bridge” of candidacy when it got there.
“When we get to that bridge, we will cross it, just like we have crossed all other bridges that the ruling PDP has told us that we will not cross. We will cross the bridge of the presidential and vice-presidential candidate when we get there.