By Hugo Odiogor
THE choice of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the consensus aspirant from the North to contest the presidential ticket of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) marks a new chapter in Nigeria’s political history.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar beat General Ibrahim Babangida, General Aliyu Gusua and Dr. Bukola Saraki to emerge as the preferred choice to challenge Dr. Jonathan Goodluck in the forth coming PDP primaries.
This becomes significant given the fact that an attempt to produce a consensus candidate by the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), in the second republic failed. A frontline Northern Elder Alhaji Tanko Yakasai attributed the failure to the inability of the politicians then to take the religious sensibilities of the country into consideration
The Director of Atiku Abubakar’s Media Mr. Chris Mamma told Vanguard the decision is most welcomed and will give their campaign the momentum to challenge Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in the forth coming party primaries.
On the other hand the Managers of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan said they are happy with the choice, but the Executive secretary of Northern Development Initiative Alhaji Ahmed Hassan told Vanguard that the North has other credible candidates in the race notable among them are Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekerau, Alhaji Bashir Tofa who are contesting from the north yet PDP is giving the impression that the North is a monolithic entity and any candidate from the party will automatically be given the key to Aso Rock in Abuja.
Informed sources told Vanguard that youths and leading lights from the North are resolutely opposed to the attempt by the Ciroma group “to recycle these politically exposed candidates who have no credible credentials to change the lives of Nigerians either in the north or in the country in general.
But above all, they accuse Mallam Ciroma of going about the consensus candidates “as if democracy is about producing warlords, ethnic champions and religious bigots, because nothing is being said about the ability of the leading PDP candidates to deliver good governance and project the good image of the country outside”.
Beyond the choice of the consensus candidate, by the Ciroma committee, there are formidable challenges facing the both the Atiku and Jonathan camps. For Alhaji Atiku he must work to diffuse the impression that he is on a warpath with Dr. Jonathan as projected by Mallam Ciroma in the way he went about his assignment.
According to Chief Akaeze Ibonye, ”one of the problem created for Atiku by the Ciroma Committee is the bitterness displayed by Mallam Ciroma towards Dr. Jonathan as if he was on a war mission”.
For the Jonathan camp, the battle has just begun as Atiku is seen as the only man who has the resources and clout to challenge Dr. Jonathan. He also has a good number of serving governors who can deliver delegates at the PDP convention.
The issues of the youth who disagreed with the Ciroma committee is crucial because of the issues they raised Northern youths and intellectuals the consensus as a costly gamble to hoist unelectable and unsalable politicians on the electorates.
The youth and intellectuals in the North are insisting that there should be shift of focus from the present crop of aspirants that PDP have lined up and a critical look at the other aspirants from the other parties to get a possible candidate that could give Dr. Goodluck Jonathan a good fight if the PDP decides to give him the ticket.”
They argued that “it will not serve the interest of the north for Atiku to be seen as an ethnic champions or a religious bigots and tainted in any way said source.
The road to consensus