Even after calling for the need for power to shift to the Southern part of the country, the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has refused to zone its Presidency slot.
Though some Southerners like Nyesom Wike, Dele Momodu, and Ayodele Fayose have shown interest in becoming the flag bearer of the PDP, many northerners are also against the run of play to get the ticket.
As part of efforts to ensure that they have a smooth affair and ensure that power remains in the north, aspirants from this axis decided to settle for consensus arrangement. POLITICS NIGERIA understands that for two months, former Senate President Bukola Saraki, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed, and frontline banker, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, have visited various parts of the country, on who among them should emerge the consensus candidate of the north ahead of the May 28 presidential primary.
In a bid to select a preferred candidate to contest against their southern counterparts, the chieftains visited former military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, entrusting him the difficult task of making a choice out of the pack.
POLITICS NIGERIA learnt that Babangida reached out to Ango Abdullahi, professor of agriculture and former Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, on a model of assessment, and they later settled for Saraki and Bala Mohammed.
While the arrangement left Tambuwal and Hayatu-Deen in the cold, sources told POLITICS NIGERIA that ex-vice president, Atiku Abubakar never took part in the consensus arrangement.
“What the consensus result shows is that Atiku and Tambuwal are not the preferred candidates of the north. The two individuals are the most affected and their ambitions seem to be difficult to actualise,” a top official of PDP told POLITICS NIGERIA in Abuja on Monday.
Our reporter also gathered that the executives of the party are willing to promote the decision of the consensus arrangement. While this remains sketchy, the governors from the South have insisted that the Presidential ticket for the 2023 election must not be an open contest.
They argued that the refusal of the party to zone will put the party in a weak position in its quest to wrestle power from the APC in 2023.
“We have watched with keen interest the developments in our party especially concerning zoning. This party has to respect the zoning principle as enshrined in our constitution, and to that effect, we feel that the best thing to do is zone the Presidency to the South, and we stand on that position.
“We have not seen any reason to change our position, because the party was founded on the basis of equity and justice. And we also think that equity and justice are important pillars that will ultimately stabilize our politics towards our journey in rescuing Nigeria,” said Abia state governor, Okezie Ikpeazu.
Speaking on Channels Television Politics Today programme last week, former Governor of Ekiti State, Fayose said he won’t step down for any consensus presidential candidate agreed by the party, saying the idea of consensus is undemocratic.
He added that both Atiku and Saraki were APC runaway politicians who came back to the PDP when the going was rough for them in the APC.
“Had it been that Atiku and Saraki stayed in the PDP in 2015 and supported former President Goodluck Jonathan despite whatever flaws he had, the APC would not have won the presidential election,” he said.
On the other hand, Atiku has urged his supporters to remain focused for the task ahead. The Technical Committee (TEECOM) for the actualization of Atiku Abubakar’s Presidency in the 2023 general elections, the group explained that “Atiku, is not bound by any of the recommendations and conclusions of the purported report.
“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.”
More so, Tambuwal has since appointed a chairman for his campaign council in the person of former Akwa Ibom military administrator, Senator Tunde Ogbeha.
“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,” his campaign office wrote.
Meanwhile, Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed noted in a statement by his campaign organization that “those…desecrating the time honoured verities and inviolable norms to have a sober rethink,” adding that “all those who are not happy with the result of the selection process or who did not participate in it (should) focus on their individual political trajectories without let or hindrance and not muddy the political waters any further.”
The article was originally published on Politics Nigeria.