Eleven northern governors have backed a southern aspirant for the ruling All Progressives Congress.
This led Jigawa State Governor, Abubakar Badaru, to withdraw from the presidential race, according to a statement from the governors on Saturday night.
The governors who signed the statement include; Bello Masari, Katsina; Nasir El-Rufai, Kaduna; Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi; Simon Lalong, Plateau; Abdullahi Ganduje, Kano; Bello Matawalle, Zamfara; Inuwa Yahaya, Gombe; Babagana Zulum, Borno; Sani Bello, Niger; and Abdullahi Sule, Nasarawa.
The statement reads, “We therefore wish to strongly recommend to President Muhammadu Buhari that the search for a successor as the APC’s presidential candidate be limited to our compatriots from the southern states.
“We appeal to all aspirants from the northern states to withdraw in the national interest and allow only the aspirants from the south to proceed to the primaries…”
The announcement comes as President Muhammadu Buhari meets 13 aspirants cleared to contest the party’s primaries on June 6-8 in Abuja.
SaharaReporters earlier reported that Buhari may announce his preferred candidate during a meeting with the APC presidential aspirants by 8.30pm today at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
“Buhari is calling for a dinner tonight to meet with the APC aspirants and there, he might tell them his preferred aspirant,” a top source had revealed to SaharaReporters.
Buhari had met with the APC governors on Tuesday ahead of the party’s convention.
During the meeting held at State House, Abuja, Buhari had told the governors that decisions that would enable the party to retain power at the centre should be taken.
The meeting had come amid speculations that the president may anoint an aspirant before the convention.
Apart from former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, other aspirants are the Senate President Ahmad Lawan and former ministers Rotimi Amaechi, Ogbonnaya Onu, Godswill Akpabio, and Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba.
Serving governors who are also aspiring to be president are Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Ben Ayade (Cross River) and Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa).
Others include former Senate President Ken Nnamani, former House of Representatives Speaker, Dimeji Bankole, and serving senators Ibikunle Amosun, Ajayi Boroffice, and Rochas Okorocha.