By Chioma Gabriel
One question the presidential aspirants of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,  clamouring for consensus candidacy have been asked at different fora is whether  consensus candidacy would make or mar the North.

Between the four aspirants: former President Ibrahim Babangida, Kwara governor Dr. Bukola Saraki, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and former National Security Adviser, General Gusau, a memorandum of understanding has been signed and all of these aspirants have pledged not only to accept the outcome of the Mallam Adamu Ciroma Committee on consensus but also to work together with whoever emerges the consensus aspirant to ensure he eventually emerges the Presidential flag-bearer of the ruling PDP.

So far, the former Finance Minister, Mallam Adamu Ciroma and his committee  made up of several prominent Northerners like Iyorchia Ayu, Alhaji Danjuma Goje, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, Jigawa governor Sule Lamido, Audu Ogbeh and others has commenced consultations. It is not  clear what results are being achieved as the committee has reportedly  encountered problems at different meetings.

It is not yet clear  what would be the outcome of the NPLF committee consultations  but what is obvious is that the outcome would either make or mar the North.

From the several consultations made so far, the Ciroma Committee is reported to have failed to succeed in wooing the senators from the North en bloc as the senators were divided in their support for a consensus Northern candidate.

Moreover, some of the senators and their Northern governors who are in support of President Jonathan’s presidential ambition could not be dissuaded despite attempt by the Committee to convince them that Jonathan does not reward those who work for him.

Majority of the Northern senators who are rooting for Jonathan could not be convinced by the arguments proffered by the committee.

The strongest opposition to the consensus candidacy is perhaps from the North Central which from the onset, discarded zoning in favour of the Southern minority represented by President Jonathan.

Only recently, a former Senate President, Ameh Ebute advised the four consensus aspirants to forget their presidential ambition as none of them would be a match for the incumbent President Jonathan.

The former Senate President referred to the meeting held by a group of Northern stakeholders from the North-Central in the home of the incumbent Senate President, David Mark, last week which gave massive support to the Presidential aspiration of Jonathan and ranked him higher than the four aspirants seeking consensus.

So far, the Ciroma Committee is not known to have recorded success in their consultations withNorthern traditional rulers. There have been speculations that most traditional rulers so far consulted are opposed to consensus candidacy.

Some of them are known to be supporting President Jonathan’s presidential bid and have given him kudos for holding the country together since the demise of Yar’Adua.

President Jonathan, is also known to have embarked on tours of states across the federation and has visited some Northern states and consulted with some Northern Monarchs before the Ciroma Committee began consultations. The Committee’s meetings with some Northern stakeholders have allegedly been  deadlocked.

What brought about the initial doubt as to the success of the consensus was the volte face made by Dr. Iyorchia Ayu who decided to join the Presidential race along the line.
Analysing the chances of each aspirant involves considerations of age, experience, national acceptability and the contributions each has made to the democratic process in the country.

It is also very clear that there have been some grievances from some sections of the North against the North which is  why some Northern states are strongly supporting a Southern candidate.

To drive home the point in the PDP zoning formula, it is indeed necessary that a candidate who would defeat an incumbent president is desired to contest against .

Indeed, the North, nay, the entire country is waiting to know which of these aspirants has the capacity to defeat Jonathan at the primaries? Would it IBB,  Atiku Abubakar,  Dr Bukola Saraki or Aliyu Gusau. What would be the chances of each of these aspirants?

General Ibrahim Babangida: Consensus challenge

Having been a military President for eight years, General Babangida could have passed for his  years experience. He is one man who can boast of knowing every length and breath of this country.

He created some of the 36 states and new local governments in his days as military president and could hold his own in the Africa sub-region. IBB’s image looms larger than life and that is one edge he has over others.

In his hey-days in the military, General Babangida is known to have assembled the best brains as part of his cabinet but that track record alone might not pave the way for him.

General Babangida has had a series of protests against him from different parts of the country and Nigerians are holding him liable for so many things, particularly the cancellation of June 12, 1993 election and for allegedly, not accounting for $12.4 billion Gulf oil windfall.

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