A group, Northern Nigerian Movement for Asiwaju 2023 has canvassed cogent reasons why the Plateau State Governor and Chairman of the Nigerian Northern Governors Forum, Simon Bako Lalong should be the worthy running mate of the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the 2023 general elections.
The group made its position known in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday and signed by its National Coordinator, Dr Mohammed Attahiru.
The group described the emergence of a former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu as the presidential flag bearer of the party in the 2023 election as one great and laudable decisions made by delegates and other stakeholders from across the country.
The group said it was confident that Tinubu has the requisite experience and wherewithal to win the next general elections and give the country the much desired development as he did when he governed Lagos State.
“Tinubu is deeply rooted in Nigeria’s political firmament and has great followership and acceptance across the country”, Attahiru said in the statement.
The group however pointed out that one factor that will brighten the chances of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in the 2023 contest is the choice of his running mate, saying, such decision must be taken carefully by party leaders and stakeholders.
“There is every need for leaders and critical stakeholders of the ruling party to be more meticulous, strategic and circumspect in arriving at the choice of running mate for Tinubu.
“Tinubu himself appears to know the implications of the choice of running mate as he goes into the crucial presidential election of 2023, hence, the reason he is taking his time to get it right.
“Asiwaju has already submitted the name of one Ibrahim Masari to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as a place holder running mate pending when he would get the worthy running mate ahead of the election.
“Speaking in Abuja at a book launch in the honour of the Speaker of House of Representatives to mark his 60th birthday anniversary, Tinubu said he was still searching for his running mate and told the Speaker to join him in the search for a worthy running mate.
“Tinubu said this in his remarks when he lauded the good working relationship between Gbajabiamila and his deputy, Hon Ahmed Wase.
“Tinubu said he needed to learn from the duo about the way they worked seamlessly together as he continues his search for a running mate.
“I could see his deputy (Wase) sitting down there too, you are a very good symbols of unity, dependability, and honesty, thank you. Thank you for both of you. You’ve not rocked the boat. I will need to learn from both of you, how you made the pair work because I’m still searching for my running mate,” Tinubu said.
In his remarks, Gbajabiamila urged Asiwaju Tinubu to consult him in choosing his running mate.
The Speaker said he would help the presidential candidate to get a running mate that would work smoothly with him.
“You (Tinubu) said in your address that many years ago, you consulted with your younger brother on the issue of WAEC and that consultation bore fruits. I give you my own parting shot. It is that time again to consult with your younger brother. I will give you a running mate that you will enjoy working with. But this time the consultation I promise you will not be for free,” Gbajabiamila said.
The group said the foregoing comment, showed that the issue of getting a worthy and right running mate remains top most on the mind of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu ahead of the 2023 election.
The group maintained that one person that will be a master stroke and game changer for Asiwaju when it comes to the choice of running mate is the Plateau State Governor and Chairman, Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF), His Excellency, Simon Bako Lalong.
“Lalong is a quintessential and grassroots politician who will be a worthy and right running mate for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu for many reasons.
“One burning issues that reared its head following the emergence of Tinubu as the APC presidential flag bearer is that of concerns over fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“The choice of Lalong who is an influential Northern politician and a devoted but detrabalised Christian from the ruling party, will be the best bet for Tinubu to escape the booby trap of Muslim-Muslim ticket hullabaloo.
“Given the religious sensitivity and sensibility of our country, Muslim-Muslim ticket might not be the right kite to fly at this crucial time of our country’s political journey, hence, the need to look the way of Lalong.
“Besides the issue of Muslim-Muslim ticket, Lalong was an arrowhead and very instrumental in the emergence of Tinubu as the presidential flag bearer of the APC.
“Lalong, who is the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum was able to galvanized and rally all his colleagues from the North to insist on power shift to the South.
“He was instrumental in seeing to it that the Aso Rock cabals who were bent on foisting the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan on the party as flag bearer did not succeed , thus, paving the way for the seamless emergence of Tinubu at the convention in Abuja.
“The last minute intervention of the Lalong-led NGF changed the equation in favour of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
“It will be a good thing to reciprocate this kind gesture of Governor Lalong by making him the running mate to Tinubu.
“After all, one good turn, they say deserves another”, he said.
Another reason the group gave for the choice of Lalong is his detrabalised posture and religious tolerance.
“Nigerians are very familiar with the bloodshed and crisis that had bedeviled Plateau, particularly Jos.
“Most of these crises were traceable to ethnic and religious differences among the people on the Plateau.
“However, the emergence of Lalong as governor changed the narrative on the Plateau as the state has largely witnessed relative peace as against the recurrent clashes it had recorded in the ugly past.
“Lalong due to his sensitivity to the religious and ethnic leanings of the people on the Plateau, has been able to engender peaceful coexistence and promote harmonious living among the people.
“He has been able to scale down the spate of conflicts and tension on the Plateau”, the group said.
The group said that choosing Lalong means that Asiwaju will be choosing a running mate who would be highly sensitive to the ethnic, religious and cultural differences of the Nigerian people.
The group said besides the foregoing, Lalong is competently qualified and has garnered the needed experience to be the vice president of this country.
“Lalong has before now served as a lawmaker in the Plateau State House of Assembly where he rose to become Speaker of the House aside handling other sensitive responsibilities in the House.
“As chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Lalong as first among equals, has been able to galvanize his 18 other fellow governors from the North and had coordinated the affairs of the Forum without hitches.
“All these were clear attestation to the competence of Lalong and there is no gainsaying the fact that choosing him as running mate would be the sure bet for Asiwaju.
“We strongly urge Asiwaju and other APC stakeholders to throw their weights behind Lalong as running mate for Tinubu”, the group said.
Governor Lalong has served as Speaker for 7years; Governor 7 years; Chairman Northern Governors Forum for 4 years; Chairman, Conference of Speakers 4 years; Conference of Former Speakers till date. As at today, he is the APC Senatorial Candidate for Plateau South Senatorial District in the forthcoming general elections.