*Parties begin consultation for vice presidential candidates to beat INEC deadline
*3 PDP governors indicate interest to become running mate to Atiku
*As Tinubu meets with APC northern governors over the choice of running mate
*Only candidates emerged from democratically conducted primaries will be recognised – INEC
By Okechukwu Jombo
With the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) pegging the deadline for the submission of a list of Presidential candidates and their running mates by political parties on June 17, the Ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP have begun the search for their vice-presidential candidates.
In doing this both political parties have started consultations with the leaderships of their parties.
PDP Governors and their National Chairman two days ago attended a meeting held in the residence of their presidential flag bearer, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and the major agenda of that meeting was to find who would be the vice presidential candidate of the party.
Atiku had on Monday met with the members of the party’s Board of Trustees in Abuja on the same issue. The consultation was to ensure that the person to be chosen as his running mate was acceptable to all stakeholders of the party.
The party almost ran into a crisis in 2019, when Peter Obi was chosen as a running mate without much consultation.
In all the meetings so far, like the meeting with the PDP governors, members of the National Working Committee (NWC) were in attendance.
At the end of the first leg of the meeting, the former Vice President was excused out of the meeting.
At the end of the meeting, the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, who is also the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal who addressed journalists confirmed that the meeting was part of consultation to choose a running mate.
He said: “It is true that the meeting is partly to strategise on a running mate,” but refused to give further details.
It was learnt that three governors of the party have indicated interest in becoming running mate to Atiku.
A governor who spoke on condition of anonymity said that, “Of course you know that the governors of Delta, Rivers and Akwa Ibom have indicated interest, but it is left for the presidential standard bearer to make his mind on the three governors.”
“But there is the suggestion that the south-east should be considered and that the governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi should be considered. But as I said, it all depends on the presidential candidate.
“The idea of a running mate from the south-east is to give the geo-political zone a sense of belonging because the zone lost out also in the presidential nomination of the APC”, he said.
Speaking further, the Chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum, Tambuwal said that the party’s governors reviewed the last presidential nomination and discussed plans to unite the party and strategize on how to make it formidable for the general election next year and the two off season governorship election in Ekiti and Osun.
All the PDP governors and members of the PDP National Working Committee were in attendance.
In the same light, presidential candidate of the APC, Bola Tinubu met with northern governors from the party over the choice of a running mate.
The meeting was held at Asokoro, Abuja.
Also in the meeting is the National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Adamu.
The parties just have a few days to submit the names and INEC has warned that the dedicated portal for the submission of list of candidates for national elections will automatically shut down at 6.00pm (1800hrs) on Friday 17th June 2022.
However for governorship and House of Assembly elections, the list of candidates shall be uploaded from 1st to 15th July 2022.
The Commission stressed further that only names of candidates that emerged from democratic primaries as provided by Section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022 shall be submitted.
Yakubu said: “All primaries end today Thursday 9th June 2022. For the next one week from tomorrow 10th June 2022, all Political Parties are required to submit their list of candidates for national elections (Presidential/Vice Presidential, Senatorial and House of Representatives) latest by Friday 17th June 2022.
“For State elections (Governorship/Deputy Governorship and State Houses of Assembly), the list of candidates shall be uploaded from 1st to 15th July 2022 as already provided in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election already released by the Commission
“All political parties are required to upload the details of their candidates for each constituency to the INEC Candidate Nomination Portal (ICNP). To achieve this objective, four officials recommended by each of the 18 political parties were trained on the procedure for uploading the nomination forms to the dedicated web portal.
“Confidential Access Codes to the portal have already been given to each Political Party to facilitate the uploading of its nominations”, he said.
He continued: “For emphasis, the Commission wishes to remind Political Parties that only the names of candidates that emerged from democratic primaries as provided by Section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022 shall be submitted to the Commission. Similarly, the list of all Presidential and Governorship candidates must be accompanied by the names of their running mates (i.e. Vice Presidential and Deputy Governorship candidates) without which the nomination is invalid.
“All nominations must be uploaded to the portal on/or before the deadlines. The portal will automatically shut down at 6.00pm (1800hrs) on Friday 17th June 2022 for national elections and 6.00pm (1800hrs) on Friday 15th July 2022 for State elections. With this innovation, the Commission has eliminated the physical interface between party officials and INEC staff for the purpose of submitting the list of candidates for the 2023 General Election.
“A Nomination Centre has been set up here at the Commission’s Headquarters to receive and process all nominations by political parties, including dedicated telephone lines to serve as Help Desk for any Party that may need assistance. In our avowed commitment to openness and transparency of the process, the media will be invited to the Nomination Center so that Nigerians will see our level of preparedness for the exercise”, it added.