By Jide Ajani & Emeka Mammah
Amid the feelers that the Mallam Adamu Ciroma-led Committee of the Northern Political Leaders Forum, NPLF, is set to come out with a decision on the presidential candidate from the north, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State says the inability of the aspirants to reach a consensus is embarrassing to the north.
Aliyu described the development as an indication that the once valued unity of the north has fizzled out.
The four presidential aspirants are former military president, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former National Security Adviser (NSA), General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau and Kwara State governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
Aliyu, who is also the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, spoke yesterday in Kaduna at the launch of a book, Northern Women Development: Focus on Women in Northern Nigeria, written by Hajiya Hajara Kabir, an undergraduate at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
“Zoning or no zoning, we (north) should be able to collectively give the direction of political leadership of this country.
“Hence it is an embarrassment to the legacies left by our founding faathers, who, inspite of political differences, would not compromise the unity of the north, for selfish gains.”
Meanwhile, the Ciroma-led committee, arranging the consensus candidacy, it was learnt at the weekend, is expected to summon the four northern presidential aspirants to a crucial meeting this week.
The meeting, in continuation of its job, will, according to a source, cap weeks of consultations by the committee, and commence the process of announcing the consensus candidate. However, information available showed that the consultations may have favoured Atiku and Gusau as the duo were said “to be topping the list of the four aspirants.”
The source disclosed that “the committee is set to summon the quartet this week to brief them on the outcome of the weeks of consultations with the leaders in the north.
“The reason for this”, the source continued, “is to ensure the aspirants have a fore_knowledge of what the findings are before they are made public.
“The committee would also remind the contenders of the commitment extracted from them before the commencement of the process of selecting a consensus candidate as well as insist that any three of the four who would lose out should be ready to support the chosen candidate”.
It is after the meeting that the Ciroma committee will announce its choice of candidate.
The committee, it was gathered, has completed over 85 per cent of its assignment.
The committee had listed four criteria to guide it and respondents in assessing the four presidential aspirants.
These are their feelings about the acceptability of the aspirants across the six geo_political zones of the country, the democratic credentials of the aspirants, the readiness of the candidates for the task of providing competent leadership for the country, and the political structure of the aspirants to successfully compete in the presidential primaries against President Goodluck Jonathan.
The last leg of the consultations was the expected visit to Kogi State yesterday and Kwara State today.
In Kogi, the committee was expected to meet with the Atta of Igala and Governor Abubakar Idris while in Kwara, it would meet with the Emir of Ilorin. The committee was not scheduled to meet Kwara State governor since he is a contender for the consensus candidacy.
The Ciroma team kicked off its consultations with a visit to Sokoto, Sokoto State where it held talks with the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar. The team then proceeded to Gwandu where it met with the Emir.
The team met with Christian leaders, Islamic clerics, civil society groups, youth groups and state governors.
Sunday Vanguard was made to understand that Atiku appears to have been rated very high because of what a source described as “the general perception that he appears very prepared to lead the nation and he has a strong political structure”.
For Gusau, it was learnt that he was rated high as “ready to lead the nation, just as he appears the best knowledgeable to address the nation’s security problems but lacks the political structure to confront an incumbent president. In fact, his global network was also acknowledged as capable of lifting Nigeria’s profile internationally”.
But Sunday Vanguard discovered that for Babangida and Saraki, most of the respondents deferred to the experience of the former but insisted that the role of a statesman best fits his profile, while the latter, capable and young may require more years to mature into the mould of a presidential contender in the Nigerian sense.