The All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party on Thursday  increased their pace to choose running mates for their presidential candidates in order to meet the Friday, June 17 deadline.

The PDP set up a committee comprising its governors, the National Working Committee and the Board of Trustees members as well as former governors with the mandate of picking its vice-presidential candidate.

It was learnt from a reliable source that the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and his Delta State counterpart, Ifeanyi Okowa, had intensified lobby of the PDP stakeholders as part of moves to get the coveted post.

On his part, the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on Thursday, began the search for his running mate with a meeting with northern governors.

As Tinubu met northern governors, the Independent National Electoral Commission on Thursday gave parties June 17 deadline to submit the names of their presidential candidates and running mates.

The commission had on May 27 extended the deadline for parties to conduct primaries from June 4 to June 9.

It also fixed June 17 as the deadline for parties to submit lists of their candidates.

At the PDP primary held on May 29, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, who emerged as the presidential candidate, polled 371 votes while his closest challenger,  Wike, came second with 237 votes.

On Wednesday, Tinubu defeated aspirants including a former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.

The Vent Republic had on Thursday reported that Atiku met with the PDP governors as part of efforts to pick his running mate.

Wike

It was gathered that Wike and Okowa had reached out to their fellow governors as part of efforts to clinch the post.

A close source to Wike told The Vent Republic that the governor was in Abuja lobbying to be named Atiku’s running mate.

Kelvin Ebiri, the Special Assistant on Media to Wike  kept quiet over the choice of running mate for  Atiku.

Okowa

On his part, the Chief Press Secretary to the Delta State governor, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, confirmed that the governor was one the people being tipped as Atiku’s running mate.

Ifeajika said Okowa was eminently qualified for the post. He said, “Yes, they (governors) met yesterday and today, Thursday, in Abuja. Of course, it is no longer news that the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is among the people being tipped as the running mate.

“Okowa is one those being considered. He is not only eminently qualified but acceptable by all. If there is an election, all governors, even those in the APC, will attest that Okowa is the best man for the position. He has worked hard for it.”

Meanwhile, the PDP presidential candidate on Thursday met with some former PDP governors.

Those who attended the meeting included Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo), Emeka Ihedioha (Imo); Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun); Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu); Achike Udenwa (Imo); Theodore Orji (Abia); Celestine Omehia (Rivers); Ibrahim Idris (Kogi); Sam Egwu (Ebonyi); Fidelis Tapgun (Plateau), Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta); Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara); Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Boni Haruna (Adamawa)

Others were Ahmed Makarfi (Kaduna), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina) Lyel Imoke (Cross River) Jim Nwobodo (Enugu); Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto) and Babangida Aliyu (Niger).

The meeting which was held at Jimmy Carter, Asokoro, Abuja, focused on how to strengthen the opposition party amidst the crisis rocking some state chapters of the party.

The Vent Republic also gathered that Atiku was also scheduled to meet with former ministers who served under the PDP administrations as part of moves to present a formidable front and get the input of stakeholders on the choice of a running mate ahead of the 2023 presidential poll.

Atiku’s spokesman, Mr Paul Ibe, confirmed to one of our correspondents that the Thursday night parley was part of the ongoing consultations by the former vice-president to build a formidable party ahead of the polls.

This newspaper could not confirm if the meeting slated to hold at the Legacy House in Abuja started at 8pm as planned.

Meanwhile, a PDP chieftain, Chief Bode George, has said the running mate would be an individual that could assist the party to garner votes.

He said, “Definitely, it (running mate) must come from the South; South-West, South-East and South-South. They will be looking for the best man that will be able to assist the party; who will have character, respect for the rule of law and be fair to Nigerians.”

On the choice of the running mate, a PDP presidential aspirant, Sam Ohuabunwa, said the party would choose someone who could give the party leverage.

He added, “PDP will choose whoever they want between the party leadership and candidate; they will choose whoever they think will give them best electoral leverage, that’s what I think.

“I don’t understand who they will pick; my consideration is whoever will give them electoral leverage to win the election because it has to do with what will make them win the election in 2023.

A former PDP National Publicity Secretary, Diran Odeyemi said Governor Wike as the running mate to Atiku would guarantee the party’s victory in the 2023 presidential election.

According to him, Wike could rally support for the party in the South-East, South- West and the South-South where he hails from.

Odeyemi said, “I will be categorical with my comment. The best bet for the PDP is to pick Wike. Apart from the fact that he is capable and has shown intention, he is the only one that can assist the party. I am very sure he will get votes in the South-East, South-South and South-West. Their combinations would be good not only to get a victory for the party but to also bring development to the country.”

Meanwhile, the APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu and other members of the party’s National Working Committee on Thursday, visited Tinubu.

The APC national youth leader, Dayo Israel, also took to the official Twitter handle to explain the purpose of their visit in a series of tweets.

He stated, “Our National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, today led us on a courtesy visit to our Presidential Candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu this afternoon. The full NWC are behind our candidate.”

Tinubu’s running mate

In a related development, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, has warned the APC against picking a Muslim as running mate of Tinubu, who is also a Muslim.

Lawal pointed out that Nigerians were still conscious of ethno-religious factors in politics. According to him, Tinubu would have been running mate to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), when the latter became the candidate of the APC in 2014 but for the discouragement of a Muslim-Muslim ticket.

The ex-SGF, issued the warning while speaking on Politics Today, a current affairs programme on Channels Television, on Thursday.