Crisis Over PDP Northern Consensus Candidate Deepens

It’s a divisive gang up, not binding on me – Atiku | It’s mere personal opinion of the initiators, but injurious – Lamido | We agreed to end consensus idea – Tambuwal
Written By Chibuzo Ukaibe and Muh’d Zangina Kura 12 mins ago
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The backlash over consensus candidate arrangement within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took a new twist yesterday as more party chieftains rejected the emergence of former Senate president, Bukola Saraki, and Bauchi State governoir, Bala Muhammad, as northern consensus candidates.

While presidential hopeful, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, said the consensus arrangement as announced by the Prof Ango Abdullahi team was not binding on him, former Jigawa State governor and a founding father of PDP, Sule Lamido, declared that the pronouncement was the opinion of the initiators of the consensus arrangement.

However, one of the initiators of the consensus idea and Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, disclosed that all members of the consensus quartet unanimously agreed that the arrangement was not working; hence, its disbandment on Wednesday April 20 when they met at Bauchi Governor’s Lodge in Abuja and had a review meeting.

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) had last Friday issued a communiqué signed by its chairman and former vice chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof Ango Abdullahi, in which it shortlisted Saraki and Mohammed as Northern Consensus candidate for the PDP presidential ticket.

The Northern leaders said the selection of Saraki and Mohammed selection was arrived at based on certain criteria adopted in the assessment of the four aspirants who submitted themselves.

Ango who is the chairman of the consensus committee stated this when he submitted the report of his committee to Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, a former military president, who he said the presidential aspirants unanimously vested with the task of deciding a consensus candidate for the northern region from among them.

Our sister publication, LEADERSHIP, had last week reported that the deal was headed for the rocks as other presidential aspirants were opposed to it.

In March this year, the trio of Tambuwal, Saraki and Mohammed, after a two-hour closed-door meeting in Bauchi, agreed to shop for a consensus candidate among them. They were later joined by businessman, Mohammed Hayatudeen.

The consensus proposition was designed to trim the number of presidential aspirants ahead of the May 28 presidential primary of PDP.

But reacting to the development yesterday, former Atikyu declared that he was never party to the arrangement, adding that he was therefore not bound by it.

He described the idea as divisive, noting that any “consensus” arrangement premised on any regional, zonal, ethno-religious, and/or sectional sentiment will further deepen and widen the divide in the country.

Atiku, in a statement by his technical committee for the actualisation of his presidency in 2023, said it had been inundated with several calls and text messages from concerned party members, supporters and other critical stakeholders on the consensus report.

The statement signed by chairman of the technical committee, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, noted: “It must be stated categorically and equivocally that: Waziri Atiku Abubakar MA, GCON Vice President Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999-2007 was NEVER a part of this purported consensus arrangement, neither did he at any time nor in any place, subject himself to any purported consensus process.

“Therefore, Waziri Atiku Abubakar is NOT BOUND by any of the recommendations and conclusions of the purported report.

“As an avowed nationalist, Waziri Atiku Abubakar strongly believes that Nigeria has never been as divided as it is today. He strongly believes that any “consensus” arrangement premised on any regional, zonal, ethno-religious, and/or sectional gang-up will further deepen and widen this divide, and worsen the wounds that urgently need to be healed.”

He added that Atiku is anxious to implement plans, policies and programmes that will rescue and rebuild Nigeria, which is his unwavering and resolute pledge and commitment.

“Finally, as our great party, the PDP, prepares for the presidential primaries scheduled for Saturday/ Sunday May 28 and 29, 2022, we urge all our numerous supporters to continue with consultations and town hall meetings with delegates across the country. We urge them neither to be deterred nor distracted in our collective mission to rescue our nation.”

Reacting also, former Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, kicked against the proposed Northern consensus candidates produced by the Northern Elders Forum.

Lamido, who made his position known in a press statement he issued in Dutse yesterday, said the position of Northern Elders Forum was injurious, undemocratic and capable of creating more confusion rather than promoting the party unity and progress.

He explained that the forum’s position was just a mere personal opinion which did not in any way represent the collective interest of party stakeholders in the Northern region.

He stated: “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 at least working towards having a smooth acrimony free National Convention.”

On his part, Tambuwal said the consensus drive has failed, stressing that he was not part of any agreement.

Tambuwal who appointed Senator Tunde Ogbeha to lead his presidential campaign on Friday had submitted his presidential forms as of Thursday.

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Reacting through his campaign team, Tambuwal Campaign Organization (TCO), he said the emergence of Saraki and Mohammad as consensus candidates from among the four of them was false.

The director of Organization and Mobilization for TCO, Nicholas Msheliza, in a statement, said, “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 of 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.”

The statement urged members of the public to be reminded that what was canvassed for was a consensus candidate and not consensus candidates.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Governor 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 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.”

Reacting also, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, corroborated Tambuwal’s claim that the consensus arrangement had collapsed because candidates could not reach a compromise among themselves.

In a statement, he described the Ango Abdullahi-led committee as faceless and its evaluation criteria subjective.

“For the record, we would like to state that the process of arriving at a consensus candidate had collapsed. The candidates involved could not reach a compromise amongst themselves, resulting in the decision of our principal, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, and Governor Aminu Tambuwal to discontinue the process.

“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,” he said.

 

PDP NEC To Decide On Zoning May 4

Meanwhile, the PDP will on May 4 take a position on the contentious zoning of its presidential ticket ahead of the primaries scheduled for the 28 of same month.

This comes as the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party will hold on Wednesday May 4.

This is contained in a notice issued yesterday by the national secretary of the party, Senator Samuel Anyanwu.

Recall that the 37 member Governor Samuel Ortom-led committee on zoning had on April 13 submitted its report to the NEC through the National Working Committee (NWC) for deliberation on its recommendation on the controversial issue.

The outcome of the committee meetings which threw the presidential ticket of the party open had led to uproar from various southern socio-cultural groups in the country even as Southern governors and South East aspirants have insisted on the presidency coming to the region.

But the committee chairman and Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, denied that the committee has thrown the ticket open to all contestants, adding that only the NEC can take such a decision.

The PDP NEC, at its 95th meeting, had constituted a 37 man committee comprising one person per state from the 36 States and the FCT. The committee was inaugurated on March 24. It was its first meeting on March 29 and second meeting on April 5 where it reached its resolution.

Presenting the report to the party, the deputy chairman of the committee and minority leader of the House of Representatives, Hon Ndudi Elumelu, who stood in for Ortom, said the committee satisfied all the mandates set up by the NEC in the course of their assignment.

While delivering Ortom’s apology for being absent, Elumelu noted that the report was signed by all 37 members of the committee, stressing that the committee members were unanimous in the resolutions as contained in the report.

17 aspirants cut across the geo-political zones have picked the party’s presidential forms which cost N40 million.

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