By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Few days after President Muhammadu Buhari indicated a template for his successor in the forthcoming APC Presidential Primaries, governors of the ruling party are beginning to rally around Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who is believed to fit the president’s description.
Several APC governors were sighted in the Presidential Villa meeting with Osinbajo and the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, in what sources say may be a move likely to result in a consensus presidential candidate for the party.
According to reports, governors sighted in the Villa between Wednesday and Friday included those of Kano, Ogun, Ekiti, Gombe, Nasarawa and Ebonyi.
The reports said a clear majority of the 22 governors on the platform of the ruling party under the aegis of Progressive Governors Forum appeared to have agreed on supporting the candidature of Osinbajo, ahead of the primaries commencing on Monday.
According to the reports, more northern governors including those of Borno, Kaduna, Kano, Nasarawa and Gombe are said to be opposed to a northern presidential candidate for APC.
The governors held series of meetings at the Kebbi State Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja, on Tuesday, after meeting with the president.
The meetings were initially deadlocked on who to support as APC presidential flag bearer.
However, after reconvening, reports emanating from the meeting indicated that the governors had agreed that the presidency should be zoned to the South, with Osinbajo as candidate.
” The heroes of this whole thing are the governors of Borno, Nasarawa and Gombe who even though are from the North, argued that the vice president from the South fits the bill perfectly.
” Kaduna and Borno governors were also of the same view but the Kaduna governor has not been seen in the Villa this week.
” He was represented by his deputy at the meeting with the president on Tuesday,” the reports quoted a source as saying.
The source, according to the reports, said that some governors had first insisted that the party’s presidency should be zoned to the North because the main opposition party had settled for former Vice President Atiku Abubakar at its convention.
“It was a very heated argument between the governors.
” Some governors wanted a northern candidate to challenge the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate but some other northern governors kicked against it.
” They said that the it is morally right for power to return to the South.
“The governors represented different interests at the meeting and were all pushing for their candidate but there were more governors who were loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari and who wanted to reciprocate the president’s gesture.
“There were others who also insisted that Mr VP was the most popular candidate based on the feedback that the governors got from delegates in their states and they were almost certain and very confident he would defeat candidates from other parties including Atiku,” the source was quoted as saying.
The reports also quoted an aide of one of the governors present at the meeting as disclosing that certain governors were asked to reach out to some notable aspirants to urge them to step down for the vice president.
“It was indeed a difficult call as some governors were asked to reach out to their candidates to relate the choice of the governors and to also tell them to step down their ambition so that the party can present a united front at the convention,” the aide was quoted in the reports as saying.
It would be recalled that the president at Tuesday’s meeting with the governors had called for reciprocity in choosing his successor.
“In keeping with the established internal policies of the party and as we approach the convention in a few days, therefore, I wish to solicit the reciprocity and support of the governors and other stakeholders in picking my successor, who would fly the flag of our party for election into the office of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023.
“I wish to assure you that the consultation process shall continue to ensure that all aspirants and stakeholders would be brought on board right through to the convention.
” This would also ensure that any anxiety occasioned by different factors are effectively brought under control and that our party emerges stronger,” Buhari said.