By James Ezendiaru

NOT a few analysts would have sworn that having defied all the odds to defeat all his opponents at the very transparent national convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, the matter of choosing who will run with him on the APC ticket would be a mere walk in the park for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Clearly it is not turning out to be so. And there are quite some reasons why choosing a running mate in the 2023 presidential race is not just an easy call. As a matter of fact, taking that singular decision is such an important action that can make or mar any candidate’s race at the polls. If you think that it is only the APC candidate that is taking his time so as to make a wise and acceptable choice, then look around the entire political ecosystem to make up your mind.

Even then a naïve analyst may want to ask why picking a running mate is proving more difficult than winning the primary election itself. Straightaway, to answer this question, one has to reflect on the complexity of Nigeria as a country on the one hand, and on the other, the equalitarian principle of democracy on the other. Indeed, Nigeria is a unique country in its composition in terms of its plurality.

The country is variegated in terms of its peoples coming from over 350 ethnic groups; it is sharply divided between North and South; it has two major religions and several others; it boasts of six geopolitical zones; and there is also the dichotomy of the majorities and the minorities.

And the interesting thing is that the politics of the country follows the path of these few highlighted fault lines. That is what is meant when political scientists say that Nigeria is a plural society. In very simple terms, therefore, in taking any political decision in this country, be it the election of a presidential candidate, or in the choosing of his running mate, all these eggs must be carefully worked on to arrive at the destination.

When the ruling APC elected Tinubu as its presidential choice, it was simply responding to the demands of the nation’s pluralism and the principle of equality and fairness as prescribed by democracy as a system of government. Therefore, in choosing a running mate to the Jagaban, the same principles of equity, fairness and justice must dialogue with other factors such as vote mobilising capability, experience, 21st century worldview, youthful agility, and national acceptability. Although many have been raising their hands and others being recommended, one man stands out as the smart choice as Tinubu’s running mate.

And he is no other than Dr. Ibrahim Bello Dauda. First and foremost, Dauda comes from the geopolitical zone where in terms of equity and fairness, APC must face in choosing the running mate to its presidential candidate. It is settled by all lovers of justice that after three years of the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, and eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari, and lest we forget, the five years of Namadi Sambo as vice president, and given the fact that equity demands that the presidency must shift to the South, the natural region to look for a vice president to any Southern candidate is the North-East. It is worth repeating that Dr. Ibrahim is a distinguished son of the North-East from Shani. Second, if it is true as many have concluded that for Tinubu to win the 2023 presidential election apart from choosing his running mate from the North-East, that choice to be acceptable must also be a Muslim.

Because religion is one of the most significant factors that divide our country – and you can already see that from the controversy this debate has been generating of late – Tinubu being a Muslim from the South, does not need just any kind of Muslim. In other words, while Nigerians may not mind a Muslim-Muslim ticket, that decision may be sweetened for them, especially the many voters in the South and their Northern brethren, by choosing a Muslim who is easily acceptable to both his fellow Muslims and Christians alike.

We are talking of a pious Muslim who understands religion as an instrument of faith used in serving Allah and uniting fellow citizens. Who checks the box in this regard better than a young Kanuri, whose lineage traces  to Gora town in the Shani Local Government Area of Borno State; a young man who began life in Jos North area of Plateau State, where he was born; a young politician who began his education at Roman Catholic Mission Primary School Giring Abattoir Jos, Plateau State; a Muslim who studied for his degrees in no less a place than Israel? That person is Dr. Ibrahim Dauda. Quite frankly, with his background, Dauda removes any imaginable fear of a Muslim-Muslim ticket and lightens Tinubu’s headache in this regard!

Third, in choosing his running mate, one political factor both Tinubu and the APC must keep their eyes on is Buhari’s five million bankable votes in the North. Yes, in 2023, the North will have candidates on the presidential ballot in Atiku Abubakar and Rabiu Kwankwaso, but what APC and Tinubu can boast of is an inheritable 10 million sure banker votes Buhari mobilises in any election. But to inherit these votes, Asiwaju must be smart in choosing a running mate acceptable to President Buhari. And it is quite easy to see by even a blind man that of all those whose names have been dropped in this race to be Asiwaju’s running mate, none has been a closer associate of President Buhari when he started his presidential politics in 2003 than Dr. Ibrahim Dauda.

Yes, many opportunists and modern-day Buharists have arisen but the President himself alone knows those who have been doing the heavy lifting with him and for him from the days of the All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP, through the Congress of Progressive Change, CPC, and to the present day APC. Now let’s take a peep to see how far Dr. Dauda has come with the President: Between 2003 and 2007, he had served in Buhari’s ANPP as the Plateau State Coordinator of The Buhari Organisations, TBO, a support group for the party’s presidential candidate. Later, he worked within the CPC, founded by retired-Major General Muhammadu Buhari in 2009, as a vehicle to vie for the presidency in the April 2011 elections. That dream tanked. However, Dauda had in CPC served as a member of the National Convention Committee in 2013, Executive of the National Registration and Membership Committee in 2013.

Ezendiaru, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Lagos.

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