By Dirisu Yakubu & Nnamdi Ojiego
Against the backdrop of the agitation for zoning of the presidency in the coming 2023 presidential election, two key stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the North, at the weekend, debunked reports that they had shortlisted two aspirants as consensus presidential candidates.
Former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido, and a presidential aspirant on the platform of the PDP, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, faulted the process that led to the selection of former Senate President Bukola Saraki and Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, as northern consensus candidates of the PDP.
A northern stakeholders’ group had settled for Saraki and Mohammed, thus leaving former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto and Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, a former investment banker out of the presidential race.
Recall that Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed, and Saraki, last month, agreed to produce a consensus candidate among them.
The three met at the Government House in Bauchi.
“The three of us have shown aspiration to lead this country but we have also come to realise that we are all capable of leading this country but at the end of the day, it’s only one person that will get the ticket.
That’s why we have resolved to work closely together to ensure a consensus arrangement emerges among the three of us moving forward”, Saraki was reported to have said.
Consensus not working -Tambuwal
But the Sokoto governor has rejected claims that Saraki and Mohammed emerged as the PDP’s northern consensus candidates.
Tambuwal, through his campaign organisation’s Director of Mobilization, Nicholas Msheliza, explained that reports of the ex-senate President and the Bauchi governor’s emergence were not the true reflection of their recent meeting in Abuja.
He said the Abuja meeting was a review, and they agreed that the issue of a consensus arrangement was not working.
Discussions Ongoing – Lamido
Lamido, in a statement yesterday, said the process that produced Saraki and Mohammed was not broad-based and, therefore, did not reflect the position of the entire North.“The attention of key stakeholders of the PDP in the northern states is drawn to reports in the media that some northern elders have shortlisted two of our prominent and deserving aspirants as consensus PDP presidential candidates,” he said.
“Having widely consulted party leaders across the 19 Northern states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, it is hereby stated to our teeming party members and the general public that what was reported in the media is only the personal opinion of those who issued the statement and not the position of the PDP members in the North.
“Discussions are ongoing with all the aspirants in our party to have a national consensus if possible or at least, working towards having a smooth acrimony-free national convention. The position of the Northern elders is not only injurious to the North but equally injurious to the Northern aspirants,” the statement read.
Preconceived Outcome Also reacting, Hayatu-Deen said: “For the record, we would like to state that the process of arriving at a consensus candidate had collapsed. The candidates involved could not reach a compromise amongst themselves, resulting in the decision of Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, and Governor Aminu Tambuwal to discontinue the process.
“The announcement we witnessed yesterday (Friday) was not based on the principles of equity and transparency, which we believe should lead the country and the party into the future. The committee constituted by Prof. Ango Abdullahi is completely faceless and the evaluation criteria are totally subjective. It seems to us that this entire charade was designed to achieve a preconceived outcome.”