Two days after President Muhammadu Buhari indicated a template for his successor in the forthcoming All Progressives Congress presidential primaries, Governors of the ruling party are beginning to rally behind the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), who is believed to fit the President’s description.
As at last night, several of the APC Governors have been seen in the Aso Villa meeting with the Vice President.
The Governors have also been meeting with the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.
Sources say this is a move likely to result in a consensus presidential candidate for the ruling party.
Governors sighted in the Presidential Villa include those of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun; Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Gombe State, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya; Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule; and Ebonyi State, David Umahi.
The 22 governors on the platform of the APC, on the platform of the Progressive Governors Forum, sources said, appear to have agreed on a consensus candidature of Osinbajo ahead of the party’s long awaited presidential primaries on June 6.
The governors, who held series of meetings at the Kebbi State Governors Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja on May 31, after their meeting with President Buhari, were initially deadlocked on consensus arrangement.
However, after reconvening, a top source in the know, hinted that the governors have agreed that the presidency of the party should be zoned to the South and that the candidate should be Osinbajo.
According to an impeccable source in the Villa, the governors failed to reach an agreement on a consensus candidate in their first meeting because different governors were working for different aspirants and they were all pushing for their aspirants to be accepted based on a North-South divide.
The source said: “The heroes of this whole thing are the Governors of Borno, Nasarawa and Gombe who even though are from the North, argued that the VP from the South fits the bill perfectly.
“Kaduna Governor is also of the same view but he has not been seen in the Villa this week.
“He was represented by his deputy at the meeting with the President on Tuesday.”
The source said that some governors had first insisted that the party’s presidency should be zoned to the North because the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, had settled for former Vice President Atiku Abubakar at their convention.
The source added: “It was a very heated argument between the governors.
“Some governors wanted a Northern candidate to challenge the Peoples Democratic Party 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 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 the he would defeat candidates from other parties, including Atiku.”
According to an aide of one of the governors present at the meeting, certain governors were asked to reach out to some aspirants to urge them to step down for the consensus choice.
The aide said: “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.
“Some governors were not open to discussing the consensus matter with their candidate.
“They feared that their candidate will reject the proposal.
“Rather, they will go to the polls and lose than support the consensus candidate.”
Some media reports that no less than six governors have communicated the decision of the governors to Prof. Osinbajo.
A source at the Aso Villa said at least three governors have visited the Vice President in his office.
The source said: “The governors are very confident that the Vice President will deliver the required votes to win the 2023 elections but more importantly is for the party to remain one because we have Osun and Ekiti governorship elections around the corner and we will work together to win those elections as we prepare for the 2023 elections.”
It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had urged the governors to allow him pick a successor.
In a meeting on Tuesday with the APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu in attendance, Buhari said: “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.”