Nigeria News

NIGERIA: The Running Mates Line Up

 As APC seeks to unseat PDP from the centre, it is not unaware that whoever is picked as the running mate of its presidential candidate, would go a long way in determining the fate of the ticket. Already being touted as potential vice-presidential candidates are former Governor of Lagos State and one of the APC leaders, Bola Tinubu; Governors Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State; Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State; and Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State. Barring any last minute changes, the contest for the post of runner up will clearly be among the quartet. But before one of them emerges, the usual intrigues and high-wire politics shall be the order of the day. Still, more than anything else, certain defining characteristics, which each of the prospective running mates possess – ranging from religion to geo-political balancing – will play a role in deciding their fate. For now, these four seem to have the floor, writes Olawale Olaleye

BABATUNDE FASHOLA

Lawyer and administrator, the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, is one other person who has carved a very good niche for himself in the nation’s political space through style and vision. Often referred to as the poster child of the party or on a lighter note, the ‘Class Captain’, Fashola is seriously touted as a winning material and very marketable, if paired with a very good candidate, given his accomplishments in almost eight years in office.

Fashola, in over seven years, has redefined stewardship and lent credence to the fact that there is nothing truly esoteric about governance, especially when it comes to delivering on promises. His penchant for making state institutions functional and upholding the rule of law is part of the reasons he remains the darling of many, even amongst his governor colleagues.
Indeed, Fashola, given his popularity and broad acceptability, is generally considered the frontrunner as vice-presidential candidate on the APC platform, and can be paired to form an effective and formidable ticket.

Strengths
• He is very popular and has name recognition.
• His name on the ticket, could alter the presidential election and would most certainly give President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP cause for concern.
• He boasts of experience and has proved to be one of the best governors in the country in terms of performance and delivery.
• He is urbane and exposed and this could attract the support of Nigerians who have been pushing for a leader who can effectively represent the country on the global arena in carriage, substance and discourse.
• He understands policy and has a sound legal mind.
• He could help in funding the campaign as well as garner the vote of the South-west.
• He is scandal-free

Weaknesses
• He is a Muslim, though married to a Christian. His religion may be disadvantageous at this material time if paired with another Muslim candidate from the North.
• He is sometimes stubborn and uncompromising.
• On a personal level, he has a weak political base despite his popularity.
• He may not have the support of Tinubu, who has his heart set on the number two slot.
• The South-west factor may also count against him when it comes to geo-political balancing.

BOLA AHMED TINUBU

The self-styled national leader of the main opposition party, Bola Tinubu has come a long way in Nigerian politics. From his days as a senator in the early 90’s to his era as governor of Lagos State, Tinubu has remained a crowd puller on the political turf and as a result, has carved a distinct image for himself.
Ironically, Tinubu’s eventful eight years as governor are hardly recalled by many as much as his investment in the creation of a credible opposition in the country, first by holding down the South-west and later extending the influence of the opposition to other parts of the country.
Believed to have paid his dues, Tinubu is one of those keen on the vice-presidential ticket of the APC. In fact, he more than anyone else has tried to push the Muslim-Muslim ticket despite its unpopularity.
His position in the party, notwithstanding, he would not be handed the ticket on name recognition alone, but on other extrapolations that would determine whether or not his paring with the candidate of the party would make the ticket stronger or weaker.

Strengths
• He is very popular in the South-west and has name recognition nationwide.
• He has both legislative and executive experience.
• He has a very deep political base in the South-west which could be a major plus in the presidential election.
• He has a heavy war chest.
• He had a relatively good track record as governor.

Weaknesses
• As a Muslim, the Muslim-Muslim ticket may not fly, even though he is married to a Christian and has been known to attend events in churches.
• He is increasingly looking frail.
• Can the man who calls himself the leader of the APC, be the led?
• He continues to contend with the perception of corruption, even when there has been no case of graft  established against him.
• He has vested interests in businesses.
• The South-west factor could work against him in the light of geo-political balancing.

CHIBUIKE AMAECHI

The governor of the oil-rich Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi, has etched himself in the political consciousness of the people, counting from his time as Speaker of the state House of Assembly. His governorship, however which would later earn him the chairmanship of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), an office that further catapulted his popularity, especially given his stand on issues of governance.
This disposition also pitted him against the presidency, the outcome of which is believed to have enhanced his standing in the arena. The fact that Amaechi brought in his radicalism to the governance of Rivers is believed to be part of what has continued to sustain him. He is being tipped as one of the likely vice-presidential candidates on account of these and many factors including his track record.

Strengths
• As governor, he has performed creditably in terms of governance and transformational achievements.
• He boasts rich legislative and executive experience.
• He could help mobilise funds to execute the campaign.
• He has name recognition and is independent-minded.
• He could serve as a counter-weight to Jonathan and may be able to split the South-south votes and to a lesser extent, the South-east votes because of his Ikwere/Igbo background.
• He is a Christian who if paired with a Muslim candidate, the ticket will be well received and easy to sell.
• He understands policy and is scandal-free.

Weaknesses
• He is very stubborn and deemed by some to be a loose canon.
• He lacks broad-based national support.
• It would be a hard sell for the South-south to settle for second best with Jonathan in the seat.

ADAMS OSHIOMHOLE

A renowned labour leader and mobiliser, the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, is a household name in the nation’s body polity. His ascendancy to power was not without a fight, the type akin to his union days. From his days in the labour union to his governorship, Oshiomhole has not ceased to be the man of the people, especially given his oratory skills which often mesmerise his audience.
But if that was the image that many had of him, his switch to politics provided yet his other side, which is however complementary in terms of stewardship. Since assuming office, Oshiomhole who has consistently been up against the opposition in his state, may have been vindicated on account of resounding track record in his six years in office.
It is against this backdrop and other factors that some of the stakeholders in the APC hold the view that an Oshiomhole paired with a presidential candidate could sell the ticket. But he also has to deal with his weaknesses as much his strengths.

Strengths
• He has name recognition and was very popular as a former NLC president.
• He has experience, coming from many years of leading the NLC, coupled with governing his state.
• He has a good track record in terms of stewardship.
• He has the capacity to mobilise, a major strength he acquired from his days as NLC president.
• He understands policy and is scandal-free.
• As a Christian, he would make a good pairing with a Muslim candidate.

Weaknesses
• He is deemed stubborn and sometimes unyielding.
• He does not have the capacity to split the votes of his region, the South-south zone.
• He may not have the backing of the APC leadership.

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