Consensus Candidate: Emergence of Saraki, Bala Mohammed divides PDP, Northern elders

The emergence of Former Senate President Bukola Saraki and Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State as the preferred aspirants for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential ticket has failed to achieve the desired outcome of presenting a united front against the ruling APC.

Messrs Saraki and Mohammed, alongside Governor Aminu Tambuwal and Hayatu-Deen had resolved to go into the consensus arrangement to reduce the number of aspirants going into the battle for the ticket.

After weeks of moving around the country, the consensus arrangement, brokered by the former Military Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida and announced by Ango Abdullahi, selected the two aspirants but was rejected by both Mr Tambuwal and Mr Hayatu-Deen.

Mr Tambuwa, who had earlier expressed optimism in the arrangement, was the first to back out after the duo of Saraki and Mohammed emerged from the process. He had said, “So far, I am the frontline aspirant, our thinking, our prayer and hope is that the consensus will go my way.”

The Sokoto State Governor had in a statement by his spokesperson, Nicholas Msheliza, said the consensus talks collapsed, hence, all the parties involved had unanimously agreed that the talk was not progressing and the statement should have been to announce the collapse, not the emergence of any candidate.

The same position was maintained by Hayatudeen, whose campaign office issued a statement, accusing the brokers of working towards a preconceived outcome. Noting that it “was designed to achieve a preconceived outcome.”

Recently, Hayatudeen, while appearing on Arise TV, said Mr Saraki reneged on the agreement reached by the four aspirants that the consensus arrangement is not working.

The business tycoon said the other aspirants were shocked by the announcement by the NEF

Aside from the division in the party, the consensus arrangement is also affecting the Northern Elders Forum, as Mr Ango had to clarify that the consensus was not by NEF, but rather, a personal task, done on behalf of Mr Babangida.

Similarly, the NEF Director (Publicity and Advocacy), Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, had in a statement on Sunday distanced the group from the endorsement of both Saraki and Mohammed.

Mr Baba-Ahmed said the “former President (Babangida) requested Prof Ango in his capacity to design and manage a process that could improve a consensus agreement among the four aspirants.” Adding that the “entire process did not involve the NEF as a group and is not a product of the group.”

Northern aspirants using consensus to cover clamour for power rotation

The decision to embark on a consensus arrangement was conceived amid the clamour by southern leaders for power to be zoned to the south after 8years of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is from Katsina State. Messrs Tambuwa, Saraki and Mohamed, had on different occasions argued against rotation to the south.

For Mr Tambuwal, his argument has been that the party should win the election first, before considering rotation, while Mr Mohammed argued on the basis that since Mr Buhari is a member of the APC, hence, the PDP is not obliged to zone its ticket to the south.

Despite moving across the country, the consensus arrangement appears to be a regional arrangement, except from Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who abstained from the arrangement, all the participants are from the North.

The consensus arrangement by the northern aspirants bear similarities with the 2010 consensus arrangement done by the Adamu Ciroma led 17-wisemen from the Northern Political Leaders Forum which produced Mr Atiku as the consensus aspirant.

The former Vice President was picked ahead of Mr Saraki, Mr Babangida and former National Security Adviser, Aliyu Gusau.

Mr Atiku subsequently lost to Goodluck Jonathan at the PDP primary.

The 2010 arrangement was as a result of the clamour by Northern Politicians, who felt that the death of Umar Yar’adua disrupted the rotation arrangement and called for a northern candidate to complete Yar’adua’s tenure. It was a regional calculation.

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has been very vocal against the need for consensus arrangement, he even mocked them in several speeches while he was touring the country.

What seems to be clear, however, is that the Northern Consensus arrangement has failed to produce a candidate and has further divided the party and the north.

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