The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has been ruled out as a running mate to the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress anytime the candidate emerges, investigation by The PUNCH has revealed.
A highly placed source in the party, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity in Abuja on Sunday, said that Fashola’s religion had ruled him out of the race.
He said since it was almost certain that the party would field a Muslim as its presidential candidate, it would therefore be out of place to field another Muslim as the running mate.
Apart from a former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), the party also has three other known presidential aspirants.
They are a former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwakwanso; and a newspaper publisher, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah.
Out of them, only Nda-Isaiah is a Christian.
The source said that though Fashola remained the best candidate for the position, he however regretted that the issue of religion would deny the party and the country the chance of fielding the governor.
He said, “You know that the South-West is a base for the APC and it also contributed immensely to its formation. We would have preferred Fashola because of his pedigree in the state. Moreover, of all the APC governors from the zone, he is the only one doing his second term.
“But this issue of religion is the problem. Apart from this, other APC governors from the zone are also Muslims. You may need to recall that the enemies of our party tried in vain before to label the party a Muslim party.
“Even though they have failed, we may also need to be guided by the words of advice from former President Olusegun Obasanjo against any party fielding same religion ticket. This is what is hampering us concerning Fashola, whose performance and competence cannot be queried.”
The source said that even though the national leadership of the party was aware that the people of the “South-West are not religious but we are dealing with a larger society now. So, we must be careful.”