A marathon meeting by the leaders of the All Progressives Congress ended in the early hours of Tuesday(today) without a consensus on the running mate for the party’s presidential candidate, Maj.Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
Unlike the national convention/ primary which produced Buhari on Thursday without much rancour, the meeting which started at about 10.30pm on Wednesday and ended at about 1.58am on Tuesday was said to have been characterised by intense horse-trading.
Different caucuses of the APC had started a series of meetings which culminated in a larger one that had all the party’s governors and leaders in attendance.
The National leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, did not attend the enlarged caucus meeting.
Before the enlarged meeting which held at the Rivers State Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja, rose, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha had left.
They did not return as of 12. 50am when Buhari and some other participants, including seven governors, started filing out of the lodge.
Although the reason for their action could not be ascertained, The PUNCH learnt that the National Working Committee of the party would ratify one of the shortlisted vice-presidential aspirants on Tuesday.
The aspirants being considered are Governors Rotimi Amaechi(Rivers), Babatunde Fashola(Lagos), Adams Oshiomhole(Edo) and a former Lagos State Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Yemi Osibajo.
Others whose names came up were former governors Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti State), former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun State) and former governor Adeniyi Adebayo (Ekiti State)
A seven-member committee headed by Chief Tony Momoh was set up to prune down the number of aspirants. It has representatives from each zone of the country.
They include Chief Bisi Akande (South-West), Senator Chris Ngige (South-East), Senator Danjuma Goje (North-East), Chief Audu Ogbe (North-Central), Chief Sam Jaja (South-South) and Governor Yari Abubakar (North-West).
The enlarged meeting will reconvene by 12pm today.
The caucus arrived at two major decisions which included the rejection of Muslim-Muslim ticket.
It was gathered that Abubakar, Okorocha, Kwankwaso and Nda-Isiah would lend their voices to the choice of the vice-presidential candidate. This would be followed up by input from Buhari.
One of the governors, who attended the meeting said, “We are still meeting. It is not as easy as you see it. We are still meeting.”
Another leader of the party also confirmed the stalemate, saying “We have not picked anybody yet.”
He explained that the NWC which would meet on Tuesday(today) was expected to “ratify whoever is picked if there’s a stalemate tonight(Monday). “
Earlier on Monday, another top ranking member of the APC privy to the meeting said, “The meeting is going on now to draw up the general principles of (the) choice.
“It has been agreed that no Muslim/ Muslim ticket. The choice is also not restricted to the South-West; any zone in the South could produce our candidate’s running mate.”
The APC chieftain said the governors and Tinubu, were engaged in serious calculations about the viability of aspirants being proposed.
The meeting had in attendance, the party’s National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun; the National Secretary, Mai Malabuni; ex-Minister of the FCT, Nasir el-Rufai as well as Governors Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Oshiomhole (Edo) and Yari.
Others were Governors Babatunde Fashiola (Lagos), Magatakarda Wamakko (Sokoto), Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Senators Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Atiku Bagudu, Chris Ngige and Ahmed Sani.
Also in attendance were the party’s national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and a former presidential aspirant, Sam Nda- Isaiah.
Abubakar and Okorocha left the meeting midway and were yet to return as at the time of the time participants starting filing out of the lodge.
When contacted, Mohammed said, “We are still consulting.”