With the choice of frontline lawyer-pastor Yemi Osinbajo as All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chiefs have returned to the drawing board.
The PDP and the Presidency are said to be jittery over the choice of the professor of Law and former Attorney-General and Commissioner for justice, Lagos State.
The ruling party, The Nation learnt last night, was building its campaign against the APC on the following pillars:
•If the APC goes for a Moslem-Moslem ticket, it (the PDP) will brand the opposition party as insensitive to Nigeria’s glaring religious divides; and
•A Southwest candidate will make it difficult for the PDP to win the zone’s sympathy. Now the APC has picked a son in-law of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who is revered even beyond the zone.
Osinbajo’s “impeccable” personality has dismantled every plan to launch an attack on the person of the APC presidential running mate, it was said.
The ruling PDP had plotted to latch on religious factor to win the sympathy of Nigerians during the campaign for 2015 presidency.
There were strong indications yesterday that the PDP has returned to the drawing board on how to curtail the growing support base for APC.
According to sources, PDP leaders were shocked that APC chose a running mate without rancour.
It was learnt that PDP had expected a slip from APC in order to make a campaign gain from it.
It was gathered that some “attack dogs” had already been positioned to launch vexatious propaganda against the opposition on its running mate.
There have been consultations between the Presidency and the PDP leadership since Osinbajo was named.
A top source said: “There was gloom in PDP on Wednesday, following the announcement of Osinbajo. The calculation was that APC will be plunged into a crisis on the choice of its running mate, but that was not the case.
“The PDP had been looking for a slight mistake to brand APC a religious party after it could not sustain the bigot stigma on Gen. Buhari.
“Some attack dogs were on standby to hit the APC. All the plans have now failed.
Another source said: “By picking Osinbajo, the chances of PDP in the South-West have become slimmer because the party had wanted to take advantage of the political dynasty of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo to make an inroad into the region.
“The Presidency had tried to accommodate the grand son of the late sage, Mr. Segun Awolowo by making him the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Export Promotion Council(NEPC).
“But APC has also made the late Awolowo’s son-in-law as its vice-presidential candidate putting paid to any scheming by the PDP in the Southwest.”
A third source said: “With the emergence of Osinbajo , the PDP has returned to the drawing board.
“The ruling party is now left to base its campaign on issues than sentiments.”
Contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, said the party could not lose sleep over Osinbajo.
Metuh, who spoke with our correspondent, said: “Who is Osinbajo? He was an ordinary commissioner and we have hundreds of commissioners in the country. The APC vice- presidential candidate is an unknown individual in politics. He is not a threat to PDP.
“One thing I know is that if it comes to issues and performance we will win the 2015 presidential election but if it comes to throwing anarchy or chaos, the APC will have upper hand.”
Parties were rushing to beat the deadline for the submission of list of presidential candidates and those contesting for seats in the National Assembly.
A director in INEC, who interacted with our correspondent last night, said: “The parties have been rushing to submit their lists. They pleaded with INEC chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega to extend the deadline to 8pm on Thursday.
“Their request was granted but we will not exceed the timeline.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday shifted the deadline for the submission of lists of candidates for the governorship and Houses of Assembly elections from December 25 to December 26.
The commission, however, declined to comment on the number of political parties, which had submitted or yet to summit the forms bearing the names of their Presidential and National Assembly candidates.
The Chief Press Secretary to INEC chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, said the date was shifted because it falls on Christmas Day.
Yesterday was the deadline for the submission of names of Presidential and national Assembly candidates by the parties.
He said: “For the Presidential and National Assembly elections, the deadline is Thursday December 18 by 8 pm for the submission of form CF001 and CF002.’’
When asked to give the list of parties that had complied he said: “Even by tomorrow (today), you may not likely get the information from INEC because the law provides that what is being submitted today must be officially published on December 25
He said the deadline would not be extended.The Nation]