The quest by some presidential aspirants of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for a consensus flagbearer for the party ahead of their Presidential primaries is looking more like a fruitless mission, with former vice president Atiku Abubakar and two others (Dele Momodu and Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa) insisting that all aspirants must face the party’s delegates in “democratic primary election.
”The four aspirants in the forefront of the campaign for consensus – former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State; Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and the former Managing Director of FSB International Bank, Mohammed Hayatudeen – have been crisscrossing the country in the last few weeks, promoting the consensus flagbearer idea. Only last Wednesday, the pro-consensus aspirants led by Saraki met with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, where the issue of consensus flagbearer topped the agenda and strategies for actualising the mission mapped out.
Wike, while speaking after the meeting, said their interest was to ensure the consolidation of unity in the party.He said they were developing a formidable strategy that would enable the PDP coast to victory in the 2023 presidential election. Atiku was, however, absent from the meeting. The pro-consensus presidential aspirants had earlier met with Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State on the issue.
A source close to the former vice president told THISDAY last night that Atiku would never be part of any consensus arrangement for the presidential ticket of the PDP. The source said some of the pro-consensus presidential aspirants, led by Saraki, met with Atiku in his house in Abuja last week and that the former vice president told them bluntly that what they were pushing for was undemocratic, can’t work and that he would never be part of it.
Atiku was said to have advised that all aspirants should go and face the party’s delegates at the National Convention. Another source close to the former vice president told THISDAY: “The push for consensus is by people aiming to shut out a particular aspirant. Are they saying the 13 aspirants that took forms would sit down and pick one of them as the consensus flagbearer? Does this make sense? Who will step down for who? The aspirants should be meeting and selling their ideas to delegates; not meeting over consensus candidate. That is the position of Atiku.
”Newspaper publisher and another presidential aspirant, Dele Momodu told THISDAY last night that the move for consensus PDP flagbearer was dead on arrival.Momodu stated: “I see a very dangerous kind of desperation in our career politicians in Nigeria as our country prepares for the 2023 Presidential election. It is unfortunate that some of our leaders are toying with the hard-fought democracy most of them were never part of.
“At a time our country is at its worst state in decades, career politicians are only interested in hijacking power for themselves and are totally disinterested in engaging the electorates on how they plan to rescue our country and its long-suffering people from the brink of total collapse.
“The concept of consensus as practised in Nigeria is anathema to democracy because it is based on everything that democracy is not. It denies merit, enshrines illegality and enthrones mediocrity. Moreover, it embraces corruption, bullying and other unseen ills and threats.
How are the proponents of consensus different from President Muhammadu Buhari who has virtually taken over the control of APC as the Alpha & Omega? “How will they enforce their consensus on someone like me when I have bought my nomination form and I’m ready to contest all the way? They should please conserve and preserve their energies and let the people make their choices in a free and fair contest. That is the essence of democracy.
We need to save hapless Nigerians from this unnecessary distraction.”Another PDP Presidential aspirant, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa questioned the principles that would govern the choice of a consensus presidential candidate being promoted.
He said: “When I see Bukola Saraki moving round the country canvassing for a PDP consensus Presidential candidate, he reminds me of his father many years ago, moving round the country saying it was the turn of the North to present a Presidential candidate. “However, what are the principles governing the choice of a consensus Presidential candidate? It is worth consideration when consensus is anchored on the principle of equity, justice and fair play, not the brow beaten saga, which APC was compelled to submit to by Mr. President recently.
Consensus should not approximate to an arm twisting scenario or drama.“Why is the talk of consensus at this time when the clamour for a Nigerian President of Southeast extraction has gained critical mass at the national level? Someone brought the idea of this consensus to my attention, to buy into it. When 10 people are contesting or vying for a position, you don’t exclude nine to the advantage of one person. Consensus must be a collective decision of all those involved in this game. Period.”
Meeting with Makinde, Okowa
At the PDP pro-consensus presidential aspirants meeting with Makinde, the governor said the party would work to ensure the success of a consensus presidential candidate arrangement for the PDP.
”We have discussed behind closed doors the issue of the consensus arrangements we are trying to put together. We did it at the last convention of our party, and that was the first time the PDP was able to achieve bringing in a national chairman for the party through a consensus arrangement,” Makinde said.
At the meeting with Makinde, Saraki declared: “Of course, we all have our individual interests to become the president, but we have decided in our meetings that we are ready to subject ourselves to a consensus arrangement. It is not just for one part of the country, but for the PDP as a party.”
At another meeting with Okowa, Saraki also made a case for consensus candidate: “This is important because we believe that the country needs unity.
We are all eminently qualified to lead this country but we believe that only one person will lead and that person needs everybody to make Nigeria better and to fix this country.”
The former governor of Kwara stated that the interest of the aspirants was second to that of the country, adding, “This also goes to show that this consensus arrangement is not just about the issue of the North but about Nigeria.”
Saraki said any of them is qualified to lead the country and that they had agreed to a consensus arrangement to elect the party’s presidential flagbearer. Also, Saraki, during a consultative visit to Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State last month, said some of the PDP presidential aspirants from the north were ready for a consensus candidate.
He said: “At the end of the day, it is only one person that will lead this country in 2023; and we also resolved that we are going to work closely to ensure that we come out with a way that consensus arrangement would come among the three of us on how to go forward into leading this country.”The aspirants that have purchased the PDP presidential forms are Atiku, Saraki, Wike, Anyim Pius Anyim, Governor Mohammed, Governor Tambuwal, Hayatudeen and Dele Momodu.
Others are a United States based medical doctor, Nwachukwu Anakwenze; former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel; a pharmacist, Sam Ohuabunwa and an unknown politician from Imo State, Mrs. Oliver Tareila Diana.