Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state and former Senate President Bukola Saraki have reportedly been selected as the “consensus candidates” to represent the northern region in the race for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential ticket.

Over the past months, four presidential hopefuls — Saraki, Bala Mohammed, Aminu Tambuwal, governor of Sokoto, and Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, a former managing director of the now-defunct FSB International Bank – held consultations across the country on consensus candidacy.

According to a report signed by Ango Abdullahi, elder statesman, the four aspirants visited Ibrahim Babangida, former military ruler, and “gave him the mandate to lead the process for a consensus, and agreed to abide by the outcome of the decision”.

Abdullahi added that after several consultations with northern stakeholders, a three-phase approach was taken.

“In the first phase, the opinions of six distinguished persons each from the three geopolitical zones were sought with regards to each of the four aspirants. Each of the zonal delegates were allocated two votes to choose the first and second choice making a total of 36 votes overall. The outcome of that consultation was as follows: 7 votes for candidate (A) Aminu Waziri; 10 votes for candidate (B) Bala Muhd; 10 votes for candidate (C) A-B Saraki; 5 votes for candidate (D) M Hayatu-deen,” the report reads.

“One of the elders deferred his votes on grounds of continuing consultations with traditional rulers and other major stakeholders. Two members did not cast their second ballots bringing the total to 32 votes casted out of 36.”

Abdullahi said the second phase of the exercise involved zonal assessment “based on regions which was concluded as follows: a. North Central – (Eight); b. North East- (Seven); c. North West – (Two); One is still under consultation”.

For the third phase of the exercise, the consultations involved looking into the past experiences of the PDP in terms of northern candidates.

Abdullahi added that he made recommendations to Babangida, which the latter approved.

“It was resolved that a leading aspirant from the North Central and one from the North East are to be presented as northern presidential candidates. The two would in turn be required to make further concessions so that in the end one of them would be presented as the consensus candidate, out of the four that presented themselves from the North,” he said.

“For the purpose of this exercise, it is hereby resolved that Gov Bala Mohammed from the North East and former Senate President Bukola Saraki from the North Central be presented as the northern consensus candidates for the moment.

“The successful aspirants are hereby urged to work together to make allowance for further consultations to foster understanding among themselves, and the PDP community to ensure a rancor free primaries in which all eligible candidates would be free to exercise their right.”

But Sokoto state governor, Tambuwal has rejected the outcome of the exercise, saying that was not the agreement reached at a previous meeting involving the four aspirants.

“The attention of Tambuwal Campaign Organisation (TCO) has been drawn to a news item that former Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Gov. Bala Muhammad of Bauchi state have emerged as consensus candidates from amongst the four of us announced at a meeting in Minna, Niger state,” a statement by Nicholas Msheliza, TCO director of mobilisation, reads.

“This is, to be candid and forthright, not correct. The correct situation is that the team met on Wednesday, 20th April, 2022, at Bauchi Governor’s lodge in Abuja and had a review meeting; and, unanimously agreed that the consensus arrangement was not working.

“The team further agreed that Sen. Saraki should come up with a draft statement on how to communicate this decision to the Nigerian public. This was the last time that members of the team sat and mutually agreed on anything. The proposed meeting to review and vet the statement scheduled for 10 pm of the same day was aborted unilaterally by Sen. Saraki via a WhatsApp message.

“However, on Thursday, April 21st, 2022, same Sen Saraki circulated yet another WhatsApp message suggesting that members of the team should head to Minna for a meeting on Friday. Gov. Tambuwal reached other members of the team and informed them that he stands by the decision of the team that the initiative is not working.

“This is the reason Gov. Tambuwal was absent at today’s (Friday) meeting in Minna. As a result, therefore, the outcome of the Minna meeting has no consequence or any implication on the aspiration of Gov. Tambuwal, who had earlier on informed his colleagues of maintaining their agreed position that the initiative has collapsed.

“Members of the public should be reminded that what was canvassed for was a consensus candidate and not consensus candidates. For the avoidance of doubt, Gov Tambuwal has submitted his presidential nomination forms and now that the quest for a consensus candidate out of the four has clearly collapsed, will go ahead and face screening and indeed contest the PDP presidential primary.

“This is in consonance with his acclaimed outlook as a pan-Nigerian candidate, with pedigree of national service as the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, life member of the Body of Benchers and now in his second and final term as Governor of Sokoto state.”

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