By Chioma Gabriel, Deputy Editor
Alhaji Lawal Kaita was the former governor of Kaduna state and a strong force in Northern politics.
He left the PDP with Atiku Abubakar and joined the then AC, now ACN, and both returned to the PDP less than a year ago.
He is at the forefront of the search for a consensus candidate from the North and he speaks on the search so far.
What would consensus candidacy achieve for the North?
Consensus candidacy will achieve the one objective we set out to achieve: to get the Presidency back to the North. We are not going to do it by force but with the strategy we have begun, we want to ensure the North West finishes its tenure of eight years which started with late President Yar’Adua, before the Presidency returns to the South.
Many are of the view that consensus candidacy would further divide the North than unite it because some key Northerners are already rooting for Jonathan.
There is nothing like dividing the North. The North has never been as united as it is today. We are stronger than we were because the entire North is united on this issue of having the North conclude its eight years which started with Yar’Adua. That agreement PDP has on zoning still stands. It worked for Obasanjo. It would work for the North.
That is why the North is more united because this single issue has bound us stronger. We are united.
What is the guarantee that the Ciroma Committee will pick the right person?
Who is the right person in your opinion? There are a lot of speculations in the newspapers.
The committee is still consulting and the media is speculating. We have not concluded the work. We have a lot of confidence on the Ciroma Committee because they are highly responsible people and we know they will give us the best person as the consensus candidate.
They are aware of the consequences should they make any mistake on this. We will hold them responsible should any mistake occur and we know we will not be disappointed.
The Committee will not disappoint the North. There is no lobbying on this matter and if there is, no amount of lobbying would work. The aspirants have already signed a memorandum of understanding to stick to the outcome of this committee’s work and so, we have nothing to be afraid of. We are on course and only the best will emerge. The committee is made up of honest people.
Is the North throwing away the aspirations of other Northerners like Nuhu Ribadu and General Buhari who are not in PDP or has the North concluded that it’s PDP or nothing?
We are thinking of PDP for now. We are thinking of those who are going to contest on the platform of PDP. We are not talking about other political parties. These other ones you mentioned are not of PDP. Buhari is contesting on the platform of CPC and Nuhu Ribadu is contesting on the platform of ACN. We are concerned about our party the PDP.
Are you now saying the entire North would support the Northern consensus candidate and only PDP?
What I know is that the North will support the best if for instance, but God forbid Jonathan wins the primary. All the North will support any of these others, either Buhari or Nuhu Ribadu.
But we are working on our own PDP now and we are concentrating on the four PDP aspirants: General Babangida, Atiku Abubakar, Bukola Saraki and Aliyu Gusau.
But you are shutting out Buhari and Ribadu meaning that for now, the North is not interested in their aspiration. What the committee is telling Northerners indirectly is not to support Buhari or Ribadu or any party but PDP.
We are taking these things one step at a time. For now, we are working within our party and consulting amongst our people to find out which of the four aspirants in PDP is the strongest in terms of acceptability.
It is a grassroot thing and after the PDP primaries, if like I said none of these emerges candidate, the North will go back to the drawing board and restrategise on how to get Jonathan out either by our block support of Buhari or Ribadu. But God forbid that Jonathan should win the PDP primaries.
Now, these four the North is working on, are you confident that those who will lose out would not go to any other party to contest?
I am telling you on authority, none of them will join any other party even if they lose out in the consensus. They will remain in the party and support the aspirant that emerges.
That has already been concluded. Nobody is going any where.
Have you considered that amongst these aspirants, some of them could be considering zoning within the North?
What do you mean? The zoning in the PDP is still there.
That is not what I mean. I’m talking about the fact that some zones in the North have produced Presidents, Senate Presidents and others have not. For instance, the North-East that produced only Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa in 50 years.
You are talking about the military era where Heads of state come from North Central and North West. We don’t choose for military. What happened in the military era is not what we are considering.
We are talking about democracy. We are not considering the military era because they used force to do things then. We don’t plan to go back to that era.
But if they choose from a zone in the North that has been producing either military or civilian Heads of state and presidents, others will kick against that? And that’s how consensus will collapse?
No. That is not one of the considerations. Whether the chosen aspirant comes from North Central, North West or North East, it is still North. We don’t care which zone he comes from because we need somebody that will defeat Jonathan at the primaries no matter what zone he comes from. Whoever emerges from the North will definitely beat Jonathan and that is our concern.