After barely coming out of rancours that greeted their choices of running mates, presidential candidates of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, are facing fresh challenges over compositions of their campaign teams. September 28 is the official date for commencement of campaign activities.
While the APC last week unveiled the national presidential campaign council with the governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong as Director General, the PDP is yet to constitute a standing committee to lead Atiku’s.
Hardly had Lalong’s appointment been made than his kinsmen rejected it, demanding the resignation of the governor from the committee.
Their grouse was against the place of the North Central zone in the political calculation of the country.
The critical stakeholders, under the aegis of North Central APC Forum, asked Lalong to reject his appointment as APC presidential campaign DG on the ground that the position belittles the region.
The region demanded a better deal in the party.
Saleh Mandung Zazzaga on behalf of the Forum at the weekend in Jos said the North Central deserves the Presidency and not just a mere Campaign DG position . He lamented that the zone has neither produced the country’s President or vice president since the return of the democratic dispensation in 1999.
He wondered how Tinubu or the party could trust someone from the zone to head the campaign when nobody from the region is said not to be qualified enough for the presidency or at least vice president position.
His words: “Our concern in the 2023 election is that of the North Central as either the President or Vice President but we were denied because they considered us either not qualified or competent enough. But as it comes to Director General of the Presidential campaign, we suddenly became the most qualified.
“Ironically, it is the same Governor Simon Bako Lalong whom we have been canvasing support for as either president and then later as presidential running mate/ vice president, but the party discarded our call, that is suddenly being appointed as Director General of the parry’s presidential campaign organisation. We spent lot of resources pushing for either the Presidential slot or vice president at different times and it was all over the media since last year.
“We therefore considered Lalong’s appointment as insulting, degrading and making the region irrelevant in the political calculation of the country. We won’t accept this because this is quite unfair and sort of relegating our people to the background.
“Thus is why we are calling on Governor Lalong to reject this offer and those celebrating his selection from the region should desist henceforth because this is a great slap on our face.
“We have been pushing for the good of the region in national political affairs all along but those who have neither lent voices, time and resources to our course are busy celebrating the relegation of our region in this 2023 election at the national level. This is quite insensitive, unfortunate and regrettable.”
Should they pursue this agitation, APC and its candidate might be having a raw deal at the polls with Tinubu’s chances reduced because of the strategic votes expectation from the region for the leading parties, APC, PDP and Labour Party.
Although neither Atiku nor the PDP has announced a campaign team, there is strong speculation of preference by the candidate for Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
The Trumpet learnt of a secret deal between Atiku and Tambuwal to make the latter Director General of the campaign.
This, it was gathered, was agreed upon after the historical stepping down of the governor for Atiku at the May 28 PDP presidential primarypoll which gave Atiku an edge over Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike.
However, the arrangement may be suspended following realities on ground consequent upon a hint of reconciliation between Atiku and Wike.
Unconfirmed reports had it that one of the conditions demanded by Wike to settle with Atiku is that Tambuwal should not lead the campaign.
It was learnt that the Rivers State governor clearly told the mediator, Prof. Jerry Gana that he will not participate in the campaign should the party anchor it on Tambuwal.
This condition, it was further gathered, will form part of demands to be made by the Wike team when a larger reconciliation committee meets to iron out issues between the two gladiators ahead of the campaigns.
Concerned stakeholders in the party agreed to sacrifice Tambuwal’s ambition to lead the campaign. This is for peace to reign in the party and for the PDP to approach the nationwide campaign ahead of the 2023 polls.
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