LAGOS – Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, has dumped his ambition to contest the 2023 presidential election on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Daily Independent has reliably gathered.
The governor, who has not hidden his desire to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, recently said Nigerians were asking him to contest for the seat of the presidency in 2023 general elections.
He also said that he believes he has the necessary qualities to perform excellently as president, especially in uniting the nation, which, according to him, is seriously divided.
“The youths and women and all Nigerians, including very objective elite, are asking me to run for president in 2023. And I believe that it is high time that we looked into capacity — who can do the job? Who is going to unify this country? And I think they are seeing something in me that they are asking me to come and unite and fix this country,” he said.
However, speaking with Daily Independent, a serving Commissioner in Kogi State, who is a close ally to the governor, said the governor has toned down his presidential ambition “given a strong feeling that the APC might pick its presidential candidate from the South”.
He also added that the resolve by the Southern Governors’ Forum (SGF) that they will work against any political party that picks a presidential flagbearer from the North in 2023 has really caused a major setback to Governor Bello’s ambition, even though he is yet to formally declare.
“Yes, the governor has not given up but he is lying low now. Many youths and other Nigerians are still asking him to run in 2023andmanysolidaritygroups are still springing up every day declaring support for him.
“However, recent developments in the polity, especially the resolution by the Southern governors that they won’t support any Northerner has made him to tone down on his ambition. While some people in the APC are calling for the presidential ticket to be thrown open, the majority of party members are calling on the party leadership to zone it to the South, given the fact that President Buhari who is from the North will be completing eight years in 2023″.
“So, the governor will formally make his position known soon on whether he will contest the presidency or not but he has not given up, especially with massive support and endorsement he keeps receiving throughout the country.”
Another credible source in the party, however, informed Daily Independent that the governor has already begun consultations with party leaders on becoming the running mate of the would-be presidential candidate of the party, if the presidential ticket is eventually zoned to the South.
“I am aware he is leaving his options open for running mate to the presidential candidate if the ticket is zoned to the South because naturally the vice-presidential candidate will be picked from the North. But that is also hinged on many factors. If the presidential candidate is a Muslim, can Nigerians afford to vote for two Muslims on the same ticket?”
When contacted, Kingsley Fanwo, the state’s Commissioner for Information, declined to respond to our enquiries on whether the governor has given up on his presidential ambition.
However, Onogwu Mohammed, Chief Press Secretary to the governor, said since his principal has not officially declared his intention to run for president, it is out of place to say he has dropped his presidential ambition.
“Has he officially declared his ambition? So, what are they saying? Of course, many Nigerians are calling on him to run but he has not officially declared and he has not made his ambition known publicly. So, this is not the time to say whether he has an ambition which he has dropped for any other interests”.