2023 PRESIDENCY: Will push for consensus sail through?
April 19, 2022
How Saraki, Tambuwal, Bala Mohammed initiated move
•Battle for APC, PDP, others’ tickets rages
•40 aspirants fight for 7 seven tickets
•11 parties yet to get aspirants
By Clifford Ndujihe
ARGUABLY, the Nigerian polity is witnessing a form of campaign never seen in the history of electioneering in the world’s largest black nation. For the first time, presidential aspirants are embarking on consultations in groups of two, three or four campaigning for a joint cause.
Surprisingly, the campaigns have been devoid of mud-slingging and exchange of brick-bats so far. Rather, they have been about getting consensus candidates, zoning or throwing the presidential tickets open to all parts of the country.Other than the above issues, the 40 aspirants spread across seven of the 18 registered political parties have been talking about how they would address Nigeria’s nagging problems of insecurity, economy, and decaying infrastructures among others.
Origins of consensus push
The push for a consensus presidential candidate in the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was started by the trio of former Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki; Governor Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal; and his Bauchi State counterpart, Senator Bala Mohammed. Eyeing the presidency themselves, they said they are willing to step down for anyone that emerges as a consensus candidate among those of them who had indicated interest in vying for the Presidency.They first met in Bauchi on March 20, 2022, and announced that they were working together to put forward just one of them to contest for the office of president instead of having all of them contesting for the same post. Later, they admitted another aspirant, Muhammed Hayatu-Deen, a former managing director of African International Bank, into their team.
The quartet are from the North. They have visited all the 14 PDP states on the consensus mission, taking their message of unity and sacrifice to all key stakeholders in the parThey have visited all the other governors who are members of the PDP to explain their mission. To ensure that their initiative is not seen as a gang-up against any other aspirant, they have equally visited Alhaji Atiku Abubakr, who is not part of the current move and is a presidential aspirant. They have visited aspirants from the other zones like Nyesom Wike and Emmanuel Udom who are also governors.
South-East aspirants for consensus
Taking a cue from the above, four presidential aspirants from the South-East have also started the same move. Apart from agreeing to work for consensus candidate from the South-East, they are also persuading leaders and members of the PDP and other parts of the country to cede the 2023 presidency to the South-East
The South-East quartet, Mr. Peter Obi (former governor of Anambra State); Senator Anyim Pius Anyim (former Senate president and SGF); Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa and Dr Nwachukwu Anakwenze, who recently met to discuss and agree on one of them emerging as South-East candidate have also visited some governors and stakeholders including Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.A source disclosed that the Northern consensus team may next week hold a joint meeting with all other aspirants from other parts of the country who are not opposed to the consensus idea so that they can all agree on modalities for further reducing the number of aspirants in the interest of the party.
Why we’re for consensus – Saraki
Dr. Saraki who is the spokesman of the consensus advocates has repeatedly mentioned that all the four of them in the group are qualified to provide effective leadership and good governance for the nation. He said they believe that “the national interest and cohesion within the party are more important than individual ambition,” adding that what he and his colleagues have started is worthy of emulation as consensus building is needed at a critical time when the nation is troubled like now.Gains of consensus
Apostles of consensus argue that it could douse tension, if proper done, and enable the party to approach the 2023 polls with a united front.
Indeed, the PDP and the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, which have 15 presidential aspirants each have a tough nut to crack on the issue of choosing their standard bearer, which they must conclude on or before June 3, according to the deadline given by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to all the political parties to submit the names of their candidates.
As it is, the choice of presidential candidates is expected to test the ability of the various parties to manage crises and handle resultant conflicts of interest.
Already, the PDP and APC used to consensus to produce the new chairmen – Dr Iyorchia Ayu, and Senator Abdullahi Adamu, respectively and the leaderships appear willing to explore the option further. The PDP governors adopted the consensus approach in the election of the members of the National Working Committee, NWC last year during its national convention when Dr. Ayu emerged as national chairman. The APC also repeated this approach on March 25 when it elected the Abdullahi Adamu-led NWC.
Zoning puzzles in PDP
In the PDP, the leaders have been at the crossroads over where and how to choose a presidential flagbearer, who will earn the support of his co-contestants and be in a good stead to win the February 25, 2023 presidential election against the candidate of the ruling APC.The NWC is expected to meet this week to discuss the report of the zoning committee led Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, which reportedly threw the presidential race open.
Battle for PDP ticket takes shape
Following the push for consensus, the battle for the PDP ticket is taking shape. The crowd of 15 aspirants can be narrowed down to four ahead of the May 29 primaries. Depending on how far the various zones work on the consensus option, the North, South-East, and South-West may produce three consensus candidates, who will square up against aspirants from the South-South.
Since the consensus initiative started gaining traction, a host of PDP members have been commending Saraki, Tambuwal, Mohammed, and Hayatu-Deen for voluntarily deciding to prune down the number of aspirants, a situation that makes their ambitions become the first sacrificial lambs.
“What Saraki, Tambuwal, Mohammed, and Hayatu-Deen have started may become the trend that will determine the shape of the 2023 elections. The idea which is seen as limited to the PDP may also be adopted by the APC because of its numerous benefits. This consensus arrangement will reduce tension in the PDP. It will make the presidential primaries to be better managed. The fall-out will also be easy to handle. If the aspirants are already holding discussions with one another, then they are already creating grounds for mutual understanding and support for one another. So, whoever emerges will find it easy to rally the others and everybody will be a winner,” Peremebao Ohiwe, a PDP member from Bayelsa reportedly said.Initially, I did not believe the four men were serious about their plan. To think that they mean business gives me the impression that they are making a big sacrifice, particularly since the initiative is a voluntary move and nobody is being compelled to join. Also, the idea was not imposed by the party or is it being directed by any incumbent President or other external or internal force. The initiators deserve kudos,” another member of the PDP from Abia State, Okey Elenwo, said.
Analysts argue that without the consensus arrangement, the PDP might find it difficult to beat the APC at the poll with 15 aspirants if division arise from the primaries.
Battle for APC ticket
Apart from the PDP, the APC also has tough task at hand with 15 president aspirants. A bulk of the aspirants come from the South. Although some leaders of the party recently said there would be swapping of positions between the North and South in 2023, which means the South would produce President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor, some Northern aspirants have insisted on running.
Ahead of next month’s primaries, political watchers are hands akimbo watching out for how the consensus game will play out in the ruling APC and main opposition PDP.
•Governor Yahaya Bello
•Asiwaju Bola Tinubu
•Prof Yemi Osinbajo
•Chief Rotimi Amaechi
•Dr Chris Ngige
•Senator Orji Kalu
•Engr Dave Umahi
•Rev Moses Ayom
•Senator Rochas Okorocha
•Dr. Ibrahim Bello Dauda
•Dr. Tunde Bakare
•Mr. Tein Jack-RPDP
•Senator Bukola Saraki
•Senator Anyim Pius Anyim
•Mr. Peter Obi
• Alhaji Atiku Abubakar
•Dr Nwachukwu Anakwenze
•Mr Sam Ohuabunwa
•Mrs. Olivia Teriela
•Mr. Dele Momodu
•Mr. Ayo Fayose
•Senator Bala Mohammed
•Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal
•Mr. Udom Emmanuel
•Mr. Nyesom Wike
•Chief Charlie Ugwu
•Prof Kingsley Moghalu
•Mr. Chukwuka Monye
•Dr. Mani Ibrahim
•Mr. Adewole Adebajo
•Mrs. Khadijah Okunnu-Lamidi
•Mrs. Patience Key
•Chief Kola Abiola
•Mrs. Angela Johnson, APGA
•Professor Christopher Imunolen, Accord Party
Spread of aspirants
*Accord Party 1ich
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