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Nigeria: We’re Not Involved in PDP Consensus Arrangement, Northern Elders Say

The ripples generated by the consensus report of some northern elders, which endorsed former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the Bauchi State governor as the preferred Peoples Democratic Party

The ripples generated by the consensus report of some northern elders, which endorsed former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the Bauchi State governor as the preferred Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) northern presidential candidates, assumed another dimension on Sunday after the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), umbrella body for the northern establishment, dissociated itself from the initiative with an effort to correct certain misgivings.

This is as some of those concerned have also continued to state their own accounts of what happened, while the others, defended and justified the report, authored by Professor Ango Abdullahi.
While, the governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who had maintained a rebellious stance since inception, queried who the northern elders commissioned General Ibrahim Babangida were, Saraki, on his part, commended the report, stating it was a thorough and painstaking efforts that ought to be commended by all.
Mohammed too commended the former military president and explained that the report was not an imposition.
On the contrary, a group known as the United Arewa Youth For Justice and Development, has thrown its weight behind the decision of the northern elders over the endorsement of Mohammed and Saraki as northern presidential consensus candidates of the PDP ahead of the 2023, presidential primaries of the party.

However, NEF, in a statement by its Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said the forum was not involved in the process as a body, it further insisted it was not affiliated to any political party or aspirant as it were, adding that the idea to engineer a consensus among the aspirants was that of the aspirants themselves.
“It is important to make clear that the entire process did not involve the Northern Elders Forum as a group, and is not a product of the group. It has become necessary to address the impression created in part by mischief, and in part by genuine confusion over the role of the Convener of Northern Elders Forum, in the efforts to create consensus among four aspirants for the Presidential ticket of the PDP.
“Northern Elders Forum is not affiliated to any political party or aspirant, and is strongly committed to the creation of a level playing field, which will allow the emergence of the best leaders in the 2023 elections,” it said.
The forum stated that, it has also remained consistent in its conviction that all parts of the country should play their parts freely, unhindered by restrictions, which offend principles of inclusion and fairness, adding that, the North has excellent candidates whose fate should be left to party delegates and voters to decide.

It further maintained that it remained united behind the protection and projection of interests of the North and Nigeria, and would play its role as it has always done whenever the circumstances demanded.
Tambuwal, speaking with newsmen, queried the report saying, “Tell us who are the elders that sat down to come up with that decision? Who are the people that gave advice to reach that conclusion? Nobody has this information.
“I consulted the party leadership across the country especially, the Northern PDP leaders but no one is aware what’s going on, indicating that something fishy is going on. If not, we are the ones that took ourselves to them to help the process, and later withdrew, why should anyone insist the process of consensus must continue?

“So, based on this, I didn’t go to Minna, and the decision that the two people are the Northern consensus candidate doesn’t in anyway reflect my wish, and should therefore not worry my supporters. I am not involved in any of such. I am still in the race, I am seeking victory from GOD and in his mercy, God will give me,” he stated.

Continuing, he said, “We discussed the possibility of agreeing on one candidate within our group to represent us (Initially not even to represent the whole North) and we all agreed based on the situation of the party.
“We started consultations based on that, and the fourth person that joined us is also another presidential aspirant Mohammad Hayatou-deen. In order for people not to perceive that may be we are trying to fight the candidacy of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, we also went to consult him and seek his blessings.

“He was happy about it but he didn’t show any interest to join us. That was how we continued our consultations. Along the line, we discussed that we really need an elder in the country, who will help us reach our goal amicably in case we may encounter any disagreement along the line within ourselves and we all agreed that we should take the matter to former president Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida in Minna.
“We explained to him and he immediately agreed. He was very happy. And he promised to do his best to help us achieve our mission. However, we had to at a point tell ourselves the truth. The four of us met in Bauchi State government diplomatic House in Abuja on Wednesday, we looked into the issue from all angles and we made it clear that consensus candidate is not feasible and we cannot continue the process, everyone should embark on independent struggle, and whosoever GOD gives the ticket to, its ok.

“We agreed that senator Bukola Saraki will organise a press conference and inform the public about the outcome. Without consulting us, Bukola Saraki on his own sent us message that we need to go to Minna and see Babangida after all that wasn’t part of what we agreed upon in our meeting. I communicated with Governor of Bauchi Bala Mohammed whether he received same message which he did.
“We went and met Bukola Saraki. But at that point, I made it categorically clear to them that for the sake of GOD, that we didn’t agree on that; our agreement was that consensus candidate isn’t possible, why should we go and suffer that old man again?
“And that I will not go to Minna. Why should they be in a hurry. It isn’t something urgent. Reconciliation and consensus arrangement can be achieved even lately on the elections ground on the day of election. Why the hurry? Our initial plan was to expand our consultations and make the consensus candidate even at national level before we realised that it isn’t possible, even in our group let alone be at national level.
“But they insisted we have to go to Minna and discuss the issue with Babangida. They were so in a hurry. And to our surprise, the consensus they agreed on yielded two candidates, the two of them not even one. That’s an indication something fishy is going on, and I understand that already. Go and ask the three of them. We met on Wednesday and we agreed to bury the issue of consensus candidate.

“How come Babangida and the Northern elders he invited would impose it on us after all we took ourselves to him, and we later withdrew,” he stated.
But Saraki, through his media aide, Yusuph Olaniyanu, described the report of the consensus as thorough and painstaking in reaching the decision.
The statement stated: “It is a welcome development. The process that eventually led to this decision cannot be faulted. It was painstaking, thorough and transparent. One needs to commend and appreciate the elders, who worked to actualise the process.
“May Allah bless them all. Their decision was based on equity, justice, and need for inclusion of all. Yes, one consensus candidate has not emerged but they have initiated a process, which can help the party later on. The process is a work-in-progress.
“One person will still emerge from the on-going process here in the North. The South also has an example to emulate in deciding on the aspirants that should proceed to the primaries considering the zones that have not produced a President before like the South East.
“A nation like Nigeria with all the current problems needs consensus building as a way of healing the nation and enlarging grounds of co-operation, unity and understanding,” the statement stated.
Mohammed, in a statement by his campaign spokesperson, Prof Udenta Udenta, said, “On Wednesday 20th April, 2022 Gen. Ibrahim Babangida GCFR, through the channel of the platform he inaugurated, announced Senator Bala Mohammed and Senator Bukola Saraki as the selected Consensus Aspirants.

“The Senator Bala Mohammed Presidential Campaign Organisation will thus like to place on record its eternal gratitude to President Ibrahim Babangida, GCFR and the entirety of Northern Elders, who assisted him in reaching this decision.
“Our deep appreciation to them stems less from the fact that Senator Mohammed is among the two selected consensus aspirants and more on their Labour of thankless patriotic duty and uncommon leadership in attempting to bring order and coherence to bear in a condition of acute political uncertainty and fractured political process. We thank you our leaders from the depth of our heart.
“We wish to place it on record that Gen. Babangida never approached or lobbied anybody to superintend the process that will lead to the emergence of a Consensus Presidential Aspirant. Rather, it was the group of presidential aspirants made up of Senator Bala Mohammed, RT Hon Aminu Tambuwal. Senator Bukola Saraki and Alhaji Mohammed Hayatu-Deen that collectively, freely and willingly approached Gen Babangida to help select from amongst themselves a Consensus Presidential Aspirant.

“The above four named individuals not only initiated the Consensus Arrangement on their own volition but also agreed to fully and unequivocally abide by the decision that Gen Babangida will arrive at in consultation with other elders as well as accept, honour the steps and procedures he will deploy in arriving at any decision.

“We, therefore, reject the current insinuations in the media from some quarters that purport that Gen Babangida and the elders either did not consult very widely or imposed a decision on an unwilling band of presidential aspirants. Gen Babangida and elders deserve nothing but commendation for the conclusions they reached and the outcome of the Consensus exercise by anybody, who believes in the tenets of truth, honour and integrity.”

Although the northern elders are scheduled to meet today in Asokoro, Abuja, to deliberate on the consensus report and the Wednesday planned NEC meeting of the PDP,

But the Arewa Youth, in a press statement by Suleiman Abubakar, the Director, Public Affairs, stated: “As we embark on the second phase of this critical assignment, the two aspirants chosen by our elders should work together with the support of other major stakeholders and decide on which of them should emerge as the sole consensus PDP northern presidential candidate.

“The criteria used by the elders, revealed that the North-East in terms of zonal assessment have been considered as Governor Bala Mohammed was not the only individual from the zone, hence factors of equity, Justice and fairness should not be ignored in any attempt as we continue on this historic efforts.

“To this end, with Bala Mohammed as northern consensus candidate, the rest of Nigerians will understand that as northerners, we have done justice to ourselves as Bala is a detribalised leader, who has been tested and trusted as former minister of the federal capital territory, an achiever per excellence as an incumbent governor of Bauchi state.

“The commitment of readiness demonstrated by his Excellency, Bala Mohammed, since his endorsement by our elders to lead discussion with all other aspirants in the PDP with a view to having a national consensus if possible, is encouraging and this tells us that he is the man for the job, if we truly want to succeed,” the statement stated.

Chuks Okocha, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Segun Awofadeji in Bauch

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