▪︎ As Atiku fails to present self for screening
Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed and former President of the Nigerian Senate, Bukola Saraki have been endorsed by northern political leaders as consensus candidates for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2023 general election.
The endorsement of Bala Mohammed and Bukola Saraki is the last but one stage in the process that is billed to eventually produce one of them as the consensus candidate behind whose back the northern leaders in the Peoples Democratic Party will mobilise the delegates to throw their critical support during the presidential primary election.
Whoever emerges eventually will slug it out with a former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who opted out of the consensus arrangement, having reasonably suspected that the process would be skewed against him, and settling for election at the party’s primary poll.
The committee set up by northern political leaders to choose a consensus candidate of the northern extraction came up with Mohammed and Saraki’s names, out of four names, after the screening exercise.
The committee recommended that the shortlist of names of the duo should be further pruned down to one.
The four politicians who presented themselves for screening, all members of the People Democratic Party (PDP), included Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; Gov Bala Mohammed, former Senate President; Dr Bukola Saraki and Mohammed Hayatu-deen.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar did not present himself for the screening.
The committee headed by Prof. Ango Abdullahi and Magajin Rafin Zazzau, said the committee came to the conclusion of Mohammad and Saraki as the sole northern candidates after several criteria were considered.
The committee said: “It should be recalled that four major presidential aspirants in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have met and decided to limit the number of aspirants from Northern Nigeria by forming a consensus among themselves.
“The candidates that presented themselves for the consensus are Gov Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Gov Bala Mohammed, Dr Bukola Saraki, Mohammed Hayatu-deen
“This was indeed a commendable development and huge sacrifice for the love of country and the northern region in particular on the part of the four aspirants.
“Consequently, all the four aspirants visited the former military president, Gen Ibrahim Babangida and gave him the mandate to lead the process for a consensus and agreed to abide by the outcome of the decision. The former president encouraged the aspirants to have a resolve within themselves and come up with one candidate, which they reported back to him after some days and asked him to go ahead and pick one out of the four.
“General Babangida on his part opted for inclusion, through wider consultation and assigned me to design a criteria and carry out the necessary consultations with elders and leaders across the three geopolitical zones of the North. The process was conducted in the following three stages.”
According to the committee, the candidates were assessed in phases.
“In the first phase, opinions of six distinguished persons each from the three geopolitical zones were sought with regards to each of the four aspirants. Each of the zonal delegates were allocated two votes to choose the first and second choice making a total of 36 votes overall. The outcome of that consultation was as follows: 7 votes for candidate (A) Aminu Waziri; 10 votes for candidate (B) Bala Muhammed; 10 votes for candidate (C) A-B Saraki; 5 votes for candidate (D) M Hayatu-deen.
“One of the elders deferred his votes on grounds of continuing consultations with traditional rulers and other major stakeholders.
“Two members did not cast their second ballots bringing the total to 32 votes casted out of 36
“The next phase involved opinion based on regions which was concluded as follows: a. North Central – (Eight) b. North East- (Seven) c. North West – (Two). One is still under consultation
“In the end, resort was made to the historical antecedents of the PDP with regards to previous northern aspirations and the following conclusion was reached: a. That the North West has had the opportunity of contesting and even forming government in 2007, b. In 2011 a consensus was made among the four northern candidates, Which North East got the slot but lost at the primaries. In 2019, it got the slot again though the party could not form the government, c. The North Central has not had a single opportunity to get the PDP ticket since.”
At the end the committee endorsed and approved based on the exercise carried out, that a leading aspirant from the North Central and one from the North East are to be presented as northern presidential candidates.
“The two would in turn be required to make further concessions so that in the end one of them would be presented as the consensus candidate, out of the four that presented themselves from the North.”
On final noted the committee presented to Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, who entrusted the committee with the conduct of the exercise.
“We hereby present the following conclusion as presented to and Endorsed by Gen Babangida.
“For the purpose of this exercise, it is hereby resolved that Gov Bala Mohammad from the North East and former Senate President Bukola Saraki from the North Central be presented as the northern Consensus Candidates for the moment.
“The successful aspirants are hereby urged to work together to make allowance for further consultations to foster understanding among themselves, and the PDP community to ensure a rancor free primaries in which all eligible candidates would be free to exercise their right.
“We sincerely commend the sportsmanship and Statesmanship exhibited throughout the exercise by all those involved and urge continuous cooperation and team work to ensure victory for the party,” the committee said.