Young presidential aspirants, who recently agreed to produce a consensus candidate that will challenge the second-term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari next year, have lamented the collapse of the arrangement.
The dream of the13 young politicians, under the auspices of Presidential Aspirants Coming Together, to oust Buhari, ended abruptly last week in Abuja when leading members of the group withdrew.
The convener of PACT, Dr. Thomas Wilson-Ikubese, nevertheless told newsmen on Thursday that Fela Durotoye, actually emerged as the consensus candidate after a mock election held in Abuja.
He lamented that several of the aspirants expressed their grievances at various stages of the process.
According to him, one of the aspirants, Omoyele Sowore, pulled out of the arrangement because members of PACT did not support the two protests he co-organised in Abuja due to certain reasons.
Others, who pulled out, according to Wilson-Ikubese, were Ahmed Buhari, Awwal Abubakar, Alkali Abdullahi, Dr. Felix Nicholas and Prof. Kingsley Moghalu.
He explained that some of aspirants, who pulled out of the coalition, expressed disappointment with the leadership of the group for not zoning the consensus presidential candidate to the North.
He said, “They (aspirants) said it was the turn of the North and since it was not going to the North (automatically), they pulled out. Meanwhile, this was discussed at the level of PACT and we resolved that excellence should be the basis for our voting.
“In the new Nigeria that we seek, anybody from any part of the country can become anything, irrespective of where he or she comes from.
“Prof Kingsley Moghalu was there from the beginning to the end. He participated in the first and second rounds. He hugged Durotoye and congratulated him after the result was announced in the hall.”
A presidential aspirant of the Young Democratic Party, Toye Akingbola, expressed disappointment with the disagreement among members of PACT.
He said, “I’m not a member of PACT but I am not unaware of what transpired. No matter how good a person is, no matter how fantastic these presidential aspirants are, there is only one seat and only one person can march out to give us the Presidency.
“For those who have pulled out because they felt that Fela Durotoye shouldn’t have been the one to come on board, they shouldn’t have because if you knew you were not going to accept defeat, why did you join PACT?”
Akingbola stated that he was especially unhappy about Moghalu’s decision to pull out of PACT.
Another presidential aspirant, Tope Adefemiwa, an aspirant on the platform of Kowa Party, also lamented the decision of the four aggrieved aspirants to pull out, arguing that it had affected the strength of the coalition.
Adefemiwa added, “PACT is just a few of the presidential aspirants coming together. It’s not supported by all the presidential aspirants. Hence, while some aspirants pulled out, we still have 18 others in PACT.
“However, since there is confusion in PACT and some aspirants had disagreed on the choice of the consensus candidate, PACT doesn’t seem to be having the strong ground to pursue its objectives.”
One of the aspirants, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “Yes I was a part of PACT, but like eight others, including Jaiye Gaskiya, Tope Fasua and Yele Sowore, we did not believe in consensus before primaries.
“My position has always been for the aspirants to focus on strengthening themselves and their parties before conceding or even negotiating settlements within any coalition whether PACT or CUPP.
“PACT is a simple initiative that is a little impatient to take over power, hence its falling to the temptation of picking a consensus even before primaries and picking someone who has effectively lost in his original party. We stepped aside to allow them carry on with their experiment.”
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