The decision to arrive at a consensus candidate may throw the main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party in deep disarray as three major aspirants, the Senate President Bukola Saraki, the ex-vice President, Atiku Abubakar and a former governor of Kano State Rabiu Kwankwaso disagree on the move.
The Board of Trustees of the PDP had on Sunday in Abuja resolved to lias with all the presidential aspirants to discuss the possibility of having a consensus candidate.
“A committee has been set up to discuss with all presidential aspirants to come up with one of them as a consensus candidate.” The Chairman of the BoT said on Sunday.
The Chairman of the BoT, Walid Jibrin disclosed the development that a committee had been set up to take up the task of liaising the aspirants.
The members were warned not to campaign for any candidate in order to maintain credibility, and the tenure executive was extended for another five years.
“We have warned the party to manage the situation of new defectors to the party well and also consider the role played by old members.”
“The meeting advised all members to always maintain their honour and integrity as the conscience of the party to remain neutral and never sponsor or lead aspirants to visits and rallies as was done during the last convention.” Jibrin disclosed.
However, the three aspirants disagreed on the method of consensus at different fora on Monday as each of them believe they have something unique to emerge as the flag bearer if a credible primary is conducted.
The Spokesman for the Atiku Campaign Organisation Mr Segun Sowunmi confidently assured journalists that his principal was certain of emerging the PDP flag bearer.
Punch newspaper quoted Sowunmi as saying that his principal will not step down for anyone since the PDP had not micro-zoned the Presidency to the North-Central.
He said, “The business of zoning is a party matter, and the PDP, to the best of my knowledge, has not micro-zoned its Presidency. It was only zoned to the North.” Having said that, the former Vice-President has evolved beyond the candidacy of a tendency or even a zone.
“He is a pan-Nigeria candidate but we recognise that this country has become extremely divided and it takes a pan-Nigerian, who has a relationship with every part of this country to be able to bring the nation together. This is one of the many reasons he is needed. “
Also reacting, Kwankwaso who spoke through his principal secretary, Binta Spikin believes that only he could defeat the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari.
He prefers to go for the primary rather than step down for anyone.
The former governor said through Spikin that it was important to promote a popular candidate that can defeat Buhari in 2019 general election.
The Principal Secretary disagreed with Saraki who believed that it was the turn of the North Central to lead the country. She said that the party should be looking for a candidate that can garner votes, assuring that only Kwankwaso can defeat Buhari judging by the happenings in the nation.
“No, we don’t agree and I don’t think we should agree. Why? It is because what we are looking at is that person who can deliver votes. And going by the happenings in Nigeria, Senator Kwankwaso is the only person who can beat President Muhammadu Buhari. That is if you are talking about mass followership.
“From whatever direction one is looking at it, the most interesting and obvious fact is, who can beat President Muhammadu Buhari in the next election, and that person is Senator Musa Rabi’u Kwankwaso.”
Responding to Punch Newspaper inquiry whether he will agree to the party consensus move, Spikin replied that “Senator Kwankwaso believes in the law and party supremacy, hence he will be part of anything that will contribute to the overall success of the party.”
According to News Agency of Nigeria, The Senate President Bukola Saraki had disclosed during a meeting with the Benue State Working Committee of the PDP in Makurdi that it was the turn of the North Central to lead the country.
Saraki believes he is the only candidate that can unite the already torn country, adding that his aspiration is driven by the obsession to promote justice, fairness and the rule of law.
Saraki stated, “As a geopolitical zone, we have paid our dues. It is the turn of our zone to lead Nigeria to stability. We have gone through bad times. The nation has become crises-ridden; the killings are uncalled for and the Benue valley is the worst hit. There should be justice to every citizen, regardless of geographical location.
“Democracy entails freedom or rights of the people. Our rights should not be imprisoned.”
According to him, Nigeria needs leaders who are capable of representing all interest groups, and not a section of the country.
“My presidential ambition is a collective decision borne out of a desire to salvage the disunity that we are witnessing,” he said.
On whether he will step down for a consensus candidate, Saraki disagrees. He, however, said the aspirants were working together to arrive at a rancour-free resolution.
“I don’t think the consensus thing is the issue before us because we are trying to ensure that there is internal democracy in the system and very credible primaries.
“What is important is that at the end of the day, we have something that is rancour-free. What I can tell you is that we are working together because we are still part of one family.
“I believe at the end of the day, we will have a process that whoever emerges will be supported by all of us. So, there will be no need dividing ourselves.” He said.
It is obvious that if the move to have a consensus candidate is not well managed, the PDP main lose its foot before the election begins which will threaten its chances of any success in the poll.