With the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a southern Muslim as the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, focus has shifted to those who are likely to emerge as his running mate.
There are also fears that his running mate may be a Muslim from the North to enhance the chances of the APC beating the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which has a northerner, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as its candidate.
If the APC picks a northern Muslim as Tinubu’s running mate it means the party will be fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket as the Social Democratic Party, SDP, did in 1993 with late Chief MKO Abiola and Alhaji Othman Tofa.
In 2015, the scenario almost played out with Major General Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Tinubu but strident outcry in the polity led to the nomination of Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
The rumour of the move flew in the social media during Tuesday’s presidential primaries of the APC and Asiwaju Tinubu quickly dismissed it as hog-wash.
Currently, leading APC stalwarts considered as likely running mate to Tinubu include serving and out-going APC governors, who played crucial roles in getting the South to clinch the presidential ticket of the party.
Likely running mate
They include Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu; Chairman of Northern Governors Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simeon Lalong, Governor Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), who stepped down for Tinubu at the APC primaries; Governor Abdulraman Abdulrasak (Kwara); and Governor Babagana Zulum (Borno).
Others are Governor Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina), Governor Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Governor Bello Matawale (Zamfara), Mallam Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Yahaya Inuwa (Gombe), Abubakar Bello (Niger), and the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni.
Also in view are Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello and Senate President Ahmad Lawan. The duo contested the presidential primaries and lost to Tinubu.
However, all those mentioned above are Muslims apart from Governor Lalong. Some prominent Northern Christians who could become Tinubu’s running mate are Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapaha; and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.