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Tinubu’s Running Mate: We Must Avoid Threats To National Unity — Uzodinma

As the search for the running mate for the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) intensifies, Governor Hope Uzodinma has cautioned against actions that are capable of endangering national unity and cohesion.

Making this assertion while speaking to correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday, he also affirmed that the choice of the running mate is for Tinubu to make and not the APC governors.

Uzodinma said if the choice was left to him, he would consider religious denomination, ethnicity, followership, and factors that would create spread since the business of politics is to win the election.

Asked whether a single faith ticket was desirable, he responded: “I did not say is not about a single faith ticket. I said there are internal characteristics that the decision-maker may consider in the process of taking his decision. The decision whether to choose Mr A or Mr B to be a running mate to a candidate is entirely that of the candidate.

“You started by saying the governors of the South-East are complaining of not having the opportunity of being a running mate anymore. But that is not the sole ambition of the southeasterners, talkless of the governors to be a running mate. And in the business of presidential primaries, there is no election for a vice-presidential candidate. The business there is just to elect a candidate.

“In that ballot paper, there is no room for delegates to vote for who will be your running mate. So, that explains why it is not a decision for the public, for the people. It is the decision of the candidate. The first thing to do is to let the candidate, now a candidate as emerged.

“Now the candidate will factor into consideration some ideas and issues like how to create a spread. Spread is very important to be able to attract votes. So, the decision of who becomes your running mate, if I were the candidate, what will inform me is what will I do as an action that will enable me to get the kind of votes I’m looking for because the ultimate goal is to win the election.

“So, maybe I’ll start from the denomination, ethnicity, or followership. In this business of democracy, I think the number is what is very important. And there are certain things as a nation, we should not bring to the public discuss.

“Those things that are capable creating divisiveness against national unity should not be encouraged. It does not mean that I will not remember that I come from a place but I must also be cautious and careful how to use where I come from in taking national decisions. That is very important.

“The second question which is about running mate, South East is not meant for running mate. What we wanted a zone was to be the president of Nigeria and I was convinced that it was proper for us to ask for it.

“But in this business, it is partisan democracy, the minority will have their view but the majority will have their way. In the wisdom of the delegates that elected presidential candidate, a candidate has emerged, our party APC will come together, work for our candidate and produce the next president. Simple.”

When asked to comment on the alleged move by Tinubu to run with a Muslim/Muslim ticket, the Imo governor argued that the Nigerian Constitution does not dwell on religion as a factor for the selection of presidential running mate.

He added: “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, develop 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.

“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 every factor, 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.”

Governor Uzodinma admonished that each section of the country requires the others to be able to produce the president, saying that the South-East zone will work on what has so far prevented it reaching the goal.

He maintained: “When I appeared on Channels in the morning of the convention I told you that one of the conventions governing our polity in Nigeria is power shift. That power comes to the north and goes to the south. When the power came to the south, in 1999, we ceded it to South West and all of us voted as Nigerians.

“The next time power came to the South, it went to South-South and all of us voted as Nigerians. We expected that now that power came back to the South, it will go to South East but this is not a decision that a geopolitical zone alone or do.

“No geopolitical zone can become a president without the participation of other political zones. So, when you don’t get the cooperation, you begin to find out why and you work towards getting the cooperation next time because it has to be united country for you to become a president.

“We’re not talking about the president of South-East, president South-South or president of South West. We are talking of the president of Nigeria. For a Southerner to become a president, he needs to vote for the North, for northerner to become the president he needs the vote from the South.

“In our constitution, two-thirds of the states you must have at least minimum of 25 per cent votes registered in those states. Today, so we’ll look at the guidelines. We’ll look at the rules. Our country is a rule-driven country. And the grand norm is the constitution of the country.

“So, we’re working with it. All we’re saying is that for equity, for fairness for justice, that there are certain sentiments to be considered when we’re taking national decisions but we don’t think that is enough to disorganize our country. We must move forward.”

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