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Sunday, 25 March 2018

2019: Search For Consensus Candidate To Face Buhari Deadlocked

There are indications at the weekend that the search for a consensus northern presidential candidate for 2019 election had been deadlocked. The Nation investigation shows that barely four days before the next summit of the group, scheduled to hold on March 29, 2019, Election Committee of the Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF) is yet to agree on any consensus candidate.

A reliable source from Kano, who is close to one of the possible aspirants for the presidential seat in 2019 and another source from Gombe State told The Nation at the weekend that after the February outing, the election sub-committee, saddled with the task of searching for the envisaged consensus candidate, has not made any tangible headway.

“There is a form of deadlock, confusion. 
I can confirm to you off record that since the last public outing, the elders have not been able to hold any successful meeting with any of the major actors on this consensus agenda. In fact, confusion has trailed every effort made so far as none of the aspirants seems ready to submit to the group’s screening. This is because some of them, especially the ones from the Northwest here, believe that the elders were secretly sponsored by an interested party from the Northeast, who simply wishes to use the elders to secure the consensus ticket without any serious opposition. They therefore vowed not to be manoeuvred by the elders. So, what we have now is a no man’s land. Everyone is on his own,” our source from Kano said.

Explaining further, he said: “As you must know, this whole issue about consensus candidate is a PDP or opposition’s affair; count APC out of it. It is well known today that no one from the North will contest against Buhari for APC’s ticket. So, what the press calls the search for a northern consensus candidate is the effort of some Buhari opponents in the North and in PDP to raise a consensus candidate amongst themselves. But so far, it is not working. They have not been able to hold any successful meeting with any of the known presidential aspirants; this I can confirm to you.”

The source from Gombe State, who is an associate of Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, however said he heard the elders are working round the clock but refused to comment on the allegation that even in PDP, the consensus arrangement is not working. “All I can say is that the group is yet to come up with any consensus candidate. It may not be correct to say the idea can’t work in PDP. The point is that PDP has many qualified and determined aspirants; so, it may not be easy to narrow it down to a single consensus candidate. But that is not to say it is not possible. I can assure you that even within APC; Mr. President may not get the ticket so easily.”

Commenting on the development, a social commentator and APC member in Abuja, Wilfred Ogbotobo, said, “As far as I am concerned, the whole idea of consensus is a stunt. The North is not a political party; hence the whole thing is a charade. It is an attempt by aggrieved egos to mainstream their relevance when their conservative political interests are at stake. The Adamu Ciroma class tried it in 2011 on behalf of Atiku but it didn’t make him to clinch the PDP ticket. Some of the names that are now being associated with this consensus drama were key players in the PDP then. It is a gimmick that has lost its element. Buhari didn’t clinch the APC ticket or won the general election in 2015 by the workings of a northern consensus that Nigeria needs urgently. Who are the northern elders involved? They are all NPN/PDP members and sympathizers. So, what do you expect from them?”

Earlier this year, NPLF as part of its preparations for the next general election, set up some sub-committees, including the 2019 Election Committee, which, amongst others was given the task of getting a northern consensus candidate for 2019.

Leaders of the forum include the former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed; former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu and Senator Paul Zannan.

Since then, top politicians from the north have been touted as possible targets for the envisioned northern consensus candidates. They include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; former Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido; Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo; Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; and Senator Ahmed Makarfi, former PDP National Chairman.

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