The presidential flagbearer of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, has officially submitted his completed nomination forms to the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Tinubu had defeated former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and 12 others to clinch the APC sole presidential ticket at the party’s national convention.
However, the national leader of the APC on Wednesday signed and personally returned the forms two days ahead of schedule deadline as stipulated by the electoral law and INEC guidelines and timetable.
The development was confirmed by Tinubu’s media spokesman, Tunde Rahman, on Friday.
The statement read, “We wish to reiterate that HE Asíwájú Tinubu now stands ready to contest the February 25, 2023 presidential election to deliver progressive good governance to our people,” he said.
Asked to comment on who was chosen as the running mate of the former Lagos State governor, Rahman disclosed that he cannot speak on it.
He, however, gave an assurance that the name will be officially ‘announced later’.
“Asiwaju completed the forms and signed. He had to return it himself. His running mate will be announced later,” he said.
But a chieftain of the APC, who craved anonymity, confirmed that the party has submitted the name of a holding running mate to INEC while the Progressive Northern Governors and the leadership of the party continue the search for a formidable candidate to complement Tinubu.
He identified the surrogate as a chieftain of the APC in Katsina State, Alhaji Ibrahim Kabiru Masari.
“Masari is a serving board member of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies in Kuru, Plateau State. His name was statutorily allowed in lieu of the provisions of the 2022 Electoral Act. He would be substituted later after an agreement has been reached on Tinubu’s running mate,” he said.
The source also stated that the party also has a window period of one month to make the needed change, otherwise Masari becomes the substantive running mate to the presidential candidate.
Efforts made to reach the APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, to confirm if a surrogate’s name has been filed for Tinubu’s running mate proved abortive.
When contacted, Director of Tinubu Campaign Organisation, Bayo Onanuga, also told our correspondent that Masari was the name submitted to the INEC.
“Yes, he is Ibrahim Masari. He once worked as a member of the National Working Committee when Adams Oshimhole was in charge of the APC excos.
“He is not really a surrogate per se. He is just holding forth. The electoral act stipulates that candidates have the window period to substitute up till sometime in August.
“Asiwaju will use that time to continue consulting with the party, governors and the president. He is taking his time and doesn’t want to rush it,” he said.
When asked why it is taking too long to get a competent and sellable candidate for the post of the vice president, Onanuga said that the APC flagbearer believes in due process.
“He just wants to carry everybody along. Even the elections will take place in 2023 and the campaign wouldn’t start until September. The window period is still long. There is no need to rush anything about it.
“I think we have fulfilled our own part by submitting the name as required before the window of INEC deadline closes,” he said.