Sunday, 10th December 2023

Consensus fiasco: Northern PDP stakeholders cry foul, allege breach of process

By Leo Sobechi, Azimazi Momoh Jimoh (Abuja) and Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna)
24 April 2022   |   3:39 am
Stakeholder from the 19 Northern States in Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have rejected the choice of Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State and immediate past President of Senate

Former Nigeria’s Senate President Bukola Saraki

Atiku, Tambuwal Disown Failed Consensus Drive
• Arewa Group Commends Elders For Pruning Aspirants List

Stakeholder from the 19 Northern States in Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have rejected the choice of Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State and immediate past President of Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, as consensus Presidential aspirants from the zone.

This is just as two presidential aspirants former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, distanced themselves from the failed consensus arrangement. 

Alleging foul play, the stakeholders noted that the purported position of the Northern Elders “is not only injurious to the zone but equally injurious to the Northern aspirants.”
In a statement, yesterday, signed by immediate past Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, made available to The Guardian, the Northern PDP leaders stated: “The attention of key stakeholders of the PDP in the Northern states has been drawn to reports in the media purporting that some Northern Elders have shortlisted two of our prominent and deserving aspirants as consensus PDP Presidential candidates.”

The stakeholders explained that having widely consulted party leaders across the 19 Northern states and FCT (Federal Capital Territory), “We hereby inform our teeming party members and the general public that what is reported in the media is only the private opinions of those who issued the statement and not the position of the PDP members in the North.”
The northern stakeholders explained that discussions are still ongoing with and among all the aspirants, with a view to having a national consensus if possible or, at least, working towards having a smooth acrimony-free national convention.
While accusing those who released the purported shortlist of consensus aspirants from north of breaching the due process, the stakeholders maintained that the so-called position of the elders was a calculated attempt to damage the fortunes of the aspirants.
Checks by The Guardian revealed that while the broader Northern PDP stakeholders were working towards streamlining the number of Presidential aspirants from the North, the decision by the elders to exclude Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal from the shortlist sparked outrage within the northern caucus.
Sources within the northern PDP stakeholders confided in The Guardian that the general impression among them was that Governors Tambuwal and Mohammed should be pushed forward in line with the plot among the governors that one of them should emerge as the PDP standard-bearer.
“We cannot understand why the name of Saraki should come in instead of Tambuwal when it is obvious that a candidate from North Central would not produce the massive votes needed to defeat the other party,” the source stated.

In its reaction, the Technical Committee for the actualisation of Atiku Abubakar’s Presidency in 2023, in a statement signed by its coordinator, Raymond Dokpesi, made it clear that Atiku was never a party to the northern consensus arrangement.

Also, the Tambuwal Campaign Organisation, faulted the report of the arrangement, describing it as incorrect.

Dokpesi said: “The Technical Committee has been inundated with several calls and text messages from concerned party members, supporters and other critical stakeholders on the purported report of consensus efforts amongst four northern aspirants in the PDP, by Prof Ango Abdullahi, Magajin Rafin Zazzau released at a press conference in Minna on Friday.

“Waziri Atiku Abubakar, Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999-2007 was never a part of this purported consensus arrangement and did not subject himself to this process,” he said. 

A statement by the Tambuwal Campaign Organisation, headed by Nicholas Msheliza, said: “This is, to be candid and forthright, not correct.”

He said: “The correct situation is that the team met on Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at Bauchi Governor’s lodge in Abuja and had a review meeting; and, unanimously agreed that the consensus arrangement was not working.”

Msheliza further explained “the team further agreed that 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 10pm of the same day was aborted unilaterally by Saraki via a WhatsApp message.

“However, on Thursday, April 21, same Saraki circulated yet another WhatsApp message suggesting that members of the team should head to Minna for a meeting on Friday. Governor Tambuwal reached out to 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 Governor Tambuwal was absent at Friday’s meeting in Minna. 

“As a result, therefore, the outcome of the Minna meeting has no consequence or any implication on the aspiration of Governor Tambuwal, who had earlier on informed his colleagues of maintaining their agreed position that the initiative has collapsed,” he declared. 

The organisation said 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.”

However, members of the Northern Democratic Defense League (NDDL) have commended the exercise, describing the process as judicious and fair and credible. 

They nonetheless, regretted the stance of Tambuwal on the issue. While referring to Tambuwal’s optimism just two days before the outcome of the process that the consensus arrangement is healthy for the PDP and that it would favour him, the group said, “it is inconsistent and shameless for him to deny going through the exercise.

The group further noted that “in place of the barefaced lies and denial of the process by Tambuwal, the group of eminent elders and leaders of the region deserves respect particularly from him being the sole initiator of the consensus process, while commending the aspirants for their courage for standing firm for justice, fairness and inclusiveness.”

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