THE presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu will appear before Northern leaders tomorrow, Monday, for interrogation on his plans for the region.
Tinubu arrived in Kaduna on Sunday for the meeting holding at the North House conference room in Kaduna, Kaduna State.
Six institutions in the North convened the meeting. They are the Northern Consultative Forum (ACF), Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation, Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Arewa House, Northern Women Party, and Northern Research and Development Project.
A statement issued by Tinubu’s press office on Sunday said that the APC presidential candidate would attend the meeting as part of his campaign plans.
“Tomorrow, Monday, APC presidential candidate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will respond to the invitation of Northern Nigerian leaders under the shadow of the Northern Cooperation Party for a discussion meeting.
“The meeting was part of the discussion with elected presidential candidates to discuss their plans for the Northern region before the national election 2023,” part of the statement said.
Tinubu, a southerner, hopes to share northern votes with the candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), who are from the region.
He picked former governor of Borno State and a serving senator, Kashim Shettima, as his running mate in what many analysts see as part of his tactics for winning the election. Shettima is a Muslim in the Muslim-dominated North.
But the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the umbrella body of Christians in the country, has predicted that his choice of Shettima is his doom.
Though Tinubu has attended several public events where he sought votes, The ICIR reports that the Kaduna meeting will be Tinubu’s first major public appearance in Nigeria for interrogation since he declared his presidential bid.
He failed to show up at the Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), where major contenders for the presidency spoke of the country’s troubles and how they would address them.
He, however, sent his running mate, Shettima, who spoke on his behalf.
This week, Tinubu was not also at the 52nd Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) conference, though the PDP’s candidate, Abubakar, was also absent.
On October 9, The ICIR reported the National Director of Publicity and Advocacy of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, as saying the North would invite all the presidential candidates for the 2023 election to the North to table their agenda for the region.
The ICIR reports that though the region has had more of its people as the country’s leaders since independence, the North faces challenges of illiteracy, insecurity, poverty, poor health indices and other ills more than the South.
On Saturday, the PDP’s candidate, Abubakar, appeared before Northern leaders. His efforts to sell his candidacy through tribal appeal attracted castigations from the South.
Abubakar had said, “What the average Northerner needs is somebody who is from the North… He doesn’t need a Yoruba candidate or an Igbo candidate”.
The PDP candidate, a northerner, seeks to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, also a northerner, whose tenure ends on May 29, 2023.
But some of his party stalwarts in the South and others who believe in power rotation are up in arms against him.
The Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike leads four other governors in the South against his candidacy.
After Tinubu, the northern leaders are expected to extend invitations to Labour Party candidate Peter Obi, Rabiu Kwankwaso of the NNPP and others vying for the nation’s most exalted seat.