The All Progressives Congress and its presidential candidate, Senator Bola Tinubu, have begun deliberating on who to appoint as director general of the party’s presidential campaign council, Sunday PUNCH has learnt.

By the timetable of the Independent National Electoral Commission, campaigns ahead of the 2023 general elections will begin in September.

INEC’s timetable for the 2023 general elections, dated February 26, 2022, was signed by the commission’s secretary, Rose Oriaran-Anthony.

In the timetable, the presidential and the National Assembly electioneering campaigns are to commence on September 28 in compliance with Section 94(1) of the Electoral Act 2022.

The law states that public campaigns by political parties shall commence 150 days before the polling day and end 24 hours to election day.

By INEC’s timetable, presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on February 25, 2023.

It was gathered that the APC and its strategists are looking towards the North-West to pick the director general of the party’s presidential campaign council.

It was gathered that the move to pick the campaign leader from the North-West is aimed at pacifying party members from the zone, who are said to be aggrieved because they lost out in the bid to have APC’s vice presidential candidate picked from the zone.

The North-West zone, where the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), hails from, has seven states, making it the largest of the country’s six geo-political zones.

The zone comprises Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa,  Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states.

The zone was said to be hoping to produce Tinubu’s running mate before the former governor of Lagos State announced a former governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, from the North-East zone, as his choice.

In a bid to pacify the zone, it was reliably gathered that the APC and Tinubu have decided that the party’s presidential campaign director general will be picked from the North-West.

A very top source in the camp of the presidential candidate, who spoke with one of our correspondents in confidence because he was not authorised to speak on it officially, said a decision had been taken to zone the position to the North-West.

The source said, “A decision has been taken to zone it to the North-West. The zone will produce the campaign director general. I can also tell you that the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, is being favoured for the role.

“Though the name of a former National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, also came up as another good candidate for the role, I think the North-West will take it from him.

“You know the former governor of Edo State was the party’s chairman in 2019 and he worked with Asiwaju during the presidential campaign. That notwithstanding, I think Oshiomhole will also play a prominent role in the campaign.

“Don’t also forget that the Babachir Lawal panel that recommended the kind of persons to pick as running mate also recommended that the campaign DG should come from the North and the chosen person must not be running for any election.”

Also, the media director of Tinubu’s campaign group, Bayo Onanuga, told Sunday PUNCH that all stakeholders within the ruling party, including the President; and the Progressives Governors’ Forum, had begun deliberating on the subject.

According to Onanuga, who spoke during an interview with Sunday PUNCH on Saturday, the APC plans to inaugurate two presidential campaign councils – one by the APC and one by Tinubu.

“There will be two campaign teams. The party is setting up one and the candidate is setting up another but they are going to work together. They are still talking about what should be,” Onanuga said.

He, however, declined comments on the geopolitical zone where the directors general of the two teams would likely emerge from or the criteria that will be used in their selection.

According to him, discussions are still ongoing. When asked the roles the governors will play in the composition of the campaign council, he said, “Everybody, all the stakeholders, are discussing it.”

Asked whether the President has made any input, he said, “It is being discussed, the candidate and the party and everyone are discussing this.”

Onanuga also declined comments on the date of the inauguration of the presidential campaign teams for Tinubu.

On why Tinubu was not in the Villa on Friday during the stakeholders’ meeting with the President, he said, “There is nothing to it. If he was not there, he was not there; it is not a big deal.”

North-West APC worries

Meanwhile, the APC in the North-West has expressed concern about intra-party crises rocking the party in the zone ahead of the 2023 general elections.

The Zonal Publicity Secretary of the party, Musa Mailafiya, while addressing newsmen in Kaduna on Saturday, warned that intra-party squabbles might rob the party of victory in the 2023 general elections if left unresolved to.

However, he said several steps were already being taken to address the crises and ensure unity and peace among North-West APC members.

Mailafiya, who said “each state has peculiar problem to be resolved,” noted that the National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, was on top of the situation to ensure the reconciliation of aggrieved members.

He said Adamu has the zone’s full support to unite all party members.

Speaking with journalists, Mailafiya said, “I called for this engagement with you to discuss efforts being made and steps taken to strengthen our dear party, the All Progressives Congress, in our zone, and of course, the country in general, ahead of 2023 general elections and beyond.

“It is evidently clear that at the zonal level we set the ball rolling by initiating a number of programmes and policies that will help retain our party’s popularity in the zone.

“This is, of course, necessary because there will be those who will be offended in one way or the other. Their grievances might be either legitimate or illegitimate, not withstanding, as a party, you must pacify them, you must reconcile with them, you must carry them along and you must give them back their sense of belonging, which they might have lost in the process.”

Group berates APC

Meanwhile, the APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket continues to generate controversies.

On Saturday, the Centre for Justice on Religious and Ethnicity in Nigeria expressed its disapproval of the choice.

In a press statement on Saturday, the organisation’s Director General, Rev. Kallamu Dikwa, said the APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket smacked of a plan to propagate the ideologies of the fundamentalist Islamic groups, Boko Haram and ISWAP.

Dikwa said, “While we waited for who would be the running mate of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for the 2023 general elections, we observed that all the prominent Muslim politicians, northern Muslim governors, Muslim traditional rulers, with their Islamic scholars, were saying that if a Muslim from the North was not picked as Tinubu’s running mate, they were not going to vote for him.

“At last, Tinubu decided to pick a former governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima, as his running mate. This is what Boko Haram and ISWAP demanded since, so the agenda of Boko Haram and ISWAP has finally been fulfilled.

“Over 200 Chibok schoolgirls were abducted under the watch of then Governor Kashim Shettima and they have not been found till date. Picking Senator Kashim Shettima as presidential running mate of the APC is a clear indication that Boko Haram and ISWAP’s activities of abducting our children from schools will fully resume. Therefore, Nigerians must be careful with Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Kashim Shettima.

“The freed Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorist members from the Kuje correctional centre, may be a well-planned attack by this government to manipulate the forthcoming 2023 general elections for the APC. Therefore, Nigerians must take serious note of this and work against it now.”

Youths plan rally

Meanwhile, the Director General of Tinubu Support Organisation, Mallam Aminu Suleiman, has disclosed a plan by some youths to organise a one-million-man mobilisation campaign for Tinubu.

Speaking in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, on Saturday, Suleiman said, “We have many support groups that have seen the work we are doing for our leader under TSO, so they want to come and join us.  Many of the support groups are even asking us to come and do a-million-man march for our leader, Ahmed Tinubu, and that is why we are here in Kwara to receive them.

“We have confidence that Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu would emerge as President. He was in the system for over 35 years and with the track record that he has, God will make him Nigeria’s President.”

By Chris

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