By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA— Following yesterday’s rejection of the consensus candidate option by two presidential aspirants of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senators Bukola Saraki and Jonah Jang, indications have emerged that most of the contenders have secretly voiced their opposition and wound settle only for transparent and credible primaries.
An official of the party told Vanguard in confidence, yesterday, that the rejection of the option by the aspirants was in connection with the earlier pledge by National Working Committee, NWC, of the party to provide a level playing field for all aspirants to the various elective offices in the 2019 general elections.
Although the leadership of the party has not issued a statement to the contrary, media reports recently claimed the party was mooting the idea of pruning the number to avert post-convention crisis.
Last week, Board of Trustees, BoT, of the party set up an ad-hoc committee which function, according to the chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, will be to work on a consensus candidate to fly the ticket of the party.
Investigation by Vanguard also revealed that the decision to set up another committee to liaise with the NWC to make it “speak with one voice,” with the BoT, is a strategy aimed at forging a common front on a consensus candidate.
He said: “There is a reason most of our presidential aspirants want a credible primary election to pick the flag bearer. One of the things that convinced high-profile defectors to return to the PDP was the promise of a transparent process of selection.
“Whether we like it or not, these leaders have their followers and almost each and everyone of them think he can clinch the ticket on merit. So, asking them to drop their ambition and rally behind one may be very difficult. That is one.”
Tambuwal’s silence explained
On the relative quietness in the camp of Sokoto State governor and presidential hopeful, Aminu Tambuwal, a source said the former Speaker of the House of Representatives was probably working behind the scene to “gain an itch advantage.”
Consensus not a problem for me — Makarfi
Despite the opposition to the consensus model for many presidential aspirants, including former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido; erstwhile Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, and a host of others, one of the aspirants, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, has said he was not bothered by the clamour, even as he pledged to subscribe to what was collectively agreed to by all the contenders.
In a chat with Vanguard yesterday, Makarfi said: “I am open to anything collectively agreed to. Like I said before, whatever the position taken by our party, provided it enjoys the support of all, is okay by me.”