The move for a consensus candidate among northern presidential aspirants in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has hit the rocks as Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, have both rejected the arrangement brokered under the supervision of former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.

 

Former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki and Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State had on Friday been announced as the consensus candidates of the north at this time.

 

According to the chairman of the Northern Elders Forum, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, who made the announcement in Minna, Niger State capital, the choice of the two aspirants had been reached after the four aspirants began the process to reach a consensus by visiting former military president, Babangida and giving him the mandate to lead the process for a consensus.

 

The aspirants who he said agreed to abide by the outcome of the decision, were Tambuwal,  Mohammed, Atiku and former banker, Muhammad Hayatu-Deen.

 

The former Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) had pointed out that ex-president Babangida had advised the aspirants to have a resolution within themselves and come up with one candidate, which they reported back to him after some days and asked him to go ahead and pick one out of the four.

 

Prof. Abdullahi said in a statement: “While thanking the aspirants and President Ibrahim Babangida for entrusting us with the conduct of this exercise and in the hope that all parties involved would continue with mutual consultations aimed at the overall success of the party, we hereby present the following conclusion as presented to and endorsed by Gen Babangida.

 

“For the purpose of this exercise, it is hereby resolved that Gov Bala Mohammad from the North East and former Senate President Bukola Saraki from the North Central be presented as the northern Consensus Candidates for the moment.”

 

But in a swift reaction, Tambuwal faulted the arrangement, noting that the position was not correct.

 

He said what the team agreed to after a meeting in Abuja last Wednesday was that the consensus arrangement was not working.

 

Tambuwal noted that Saraki was mandated to issue a statement to that effect.

 

The Sokoto governor’s position is contained in a statement issued by Nicholas Msheliza, the Director of Organisation and Mobilisation for his campaign organisation.

 

It reads: “The attention of Tambuwal Campaign Organisation (TCO) has been drawn to a news item that former Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Gov. Bala Muhammad of Bauchi state have emerged as consensus candidates from amongst the four of us announced at a meeting in Minna, Niger State.

 

“This is, to be candid and forthright, not correct. The correct situation is that the team met on Wednesday 20th April, 2022, at Bauchi Governor’s lodge in Abuja and had a review meeting; and, unanimously agreed that the consensus arrangement was not working.

 

“The team further agreed that Sen. Saraki should come up with a draft statement on how to communicate this decision to the Nigerian public. This was the last time that members of the team sat and mutually agreed on anything. The proposed meeting to review and vet the statement scheduled for 10 pm on the same day was aborted unilaterally by Sen. Saraki via a WhatsApp message.

 

“However, on Thursday, 21st, 2022, same Sen Saraki circulated yet another WhatsApp message suggesting that members of the team should head to Minna for a meeting on Friday, Gov. Tambuwal reached other members of the team and informed them that he stands by the decision of the team that the initiative is not working.

 

“This is the reason Gov. Tambuwal was absent at today’s (Friday) meeting in Minna. As a result, therefore, the outcome of the Minna meeting has no consequence or any implication on the aspiration of Gov. Tambuwal, who had earlier on informed his colleagues of maintaining their agreed position that the initiative has collapsed.

 

“Members of the public should be reminded that what was canvassed for was a consensus candidate and not consensus candidates.

 

“For the avoidance of doubt, Gov Tambuwal has submitted his Presidential nomination forms and now that the quest for a consensus candidate out of the four has clearly collapsed, will go ahead and face screening and indeed contest the PDP presidential primaries.

 

“This is in consonance with his acclaimed outlook as a pan-Nigerian candidate, with the pedigree of national service as the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, life member of the Body of Benchers and now in his second and final term as Governor of Sokoto State.”

 

In the same way, the former vice president and 2019 presidential candidate of the PDP, maintained that he had never been party to the consensus arrangement, which he considered to be sectional.

 

According to a statement issued by the technical committee for the actualisation of Atiku Àbubakar Presidency in 2023, headed by Dr Raymond Dokpesi, the aspirant never subjected himself to the process.

 

“Therefore, he is not bound by any of the recommendations and conclusions of the purported report,” it said.

 

The statement added: “Waziri Atiku Abubakar as a nationalist strongly believes that Nigeria has never been so divided as it is today, and any regional, zonal, ethno-religious gang-up or consensus-driven in this manner will further deepen and widen the wounds that urgently require to be healed. He is anxious to implement plans, policies and programmes that will rescue and rebuild Nigeria

 

“Finally, we urge our supporters to continue with consultations and townhall meetings with delegates across the country as the party prepares for the presidential primaries scheduled for Saturday/ Sunday May 28 and 29, 2022.”

 

Also, Hayatu-Deen, who is said to have participated in the discussion, affirmed that the move for consensus had indeed collapsed as the aspirants could not reach an agreement.

 

He said in a statement that he and Tambuwal decided to pull out of the talks.

 

“The announcement we witnessed yesterday was not based on the principles of equity and transparency, which we believe should lead the country and the party into the future. The committee constituted by Prof. Ango Abdullahi is completely faceless and the evaluation criteria is totally subjective.

 

“It seems to us that this entire charade was designed to achieve a preconceived outcome,” Hayatu-Deen said.

 

Speaking for stakeholders of the PDP in the Northern States,  former Jigawa State Governor,  Sule Lamido, said the reported shortlisting of two aspirants is only the personal opinion of those who did it.

 

He said that discussions are continuing with all the PDP aspirants towards coming up with a consensus candidate.

 

Lamido stated: “The attention of key stakeholders of the PDP in the Northern States is drawn to reports in the Media that some Northern Elders have shortlisted two of our prominent and deserving aspirants as consensus PDP Presidential Candidates.

 

“Having widely consulted Party Leaders across the 19 Northern States and FCT, it is hereby stated to our teeming Party members and the general public that what is reported in the Media is only the personal opinion of those who issued the statement and not the position of the PDP members in the North!

 

“Discussions are ongoing with ALL the aspirants in our party with a view to having a National Consensus if possible or a least working towards having smooth acrimony free National Convention.

 

“The position of the Northern Elders is not only injurious to the North but equally injurious to the Northern aspirants!”

 

 

Source: Tribune

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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