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Aspirants snub consensus option to select PDP presidential standard-bearer

Signs that the suggestions in some quarters for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to fall back on the consensus option in the selection of the party’s presidential candidate for next year’s election would not sail through emerged yesterday as most of the aspirants insisted on outright primary.
Senator Ahmed Makarfi
Worried by the large number of aspirants jostling for the PDP presidential ticket, some stakeholders, including the chairman of its Board of Trustees, Senator Walid Jibrin, started mooting the idea of consensus so as to eliminate rancor and post primary recriminations that might douse the cohesion of the party during the February 2019 poll.
However, checks by The Guardian revealed that consensus arrangement could trigger widespread suspicion that would not only endanger PDP chances at the poll, but also lead to mass defection of presidential aspirants and their supporters to rival platforms.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, denied that the party leadership was directly or indirectly involved in the search for a consensus presidential candidate, stressing that although some chieftain could be examining that approach, the party has not come to that conclusion as yet.
Also, immediate past national caretaker chairman of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi disclosed that nobody has contacted him over the arrangement, stressing that he was working assiduously to earn the mandate of the delegates and members of PDP.
While expressing optimism that he would emerge as the popular choice of members as its presidential standard bearer for 2019 Presidency, Makarfi declared that he was not desperate for the position since according to him, he chased the mandate in 2007 and bided his time.
On his part, former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido, said talks about consensus at this point in time are neither here nor there, pointing out that those who are flying the kite of consensus should remember that the current PDP is no longer the party of yesteryears.
He said that just as the proponents of name change failed to sway the majority, the idea of consensus might not cut the ice, “because this is Peoples Democratic Party and emphasis is now on democracy of the people.”
Lamido said those serious about contesting the election are picking the expression of interest and nomination forms adding that the aspirants should be allowed to test their acceptability and popularity among PDP members.
But reacting to insinuations that he is fronting for a certain aspirant and waiting on the wings to step aside from the race, former minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Special Duties, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (SAN), has laughed off the suggestion saying such exists in the imagination of the purveyors.
Narrating the positive reactions his aspiration has been garnering in the course of his nationwide consultations with delegates, he declared: “There is nothing like that. He will never step down for anybody.
We are not working with anybody; the very idea of Turaki stepping down for anybody is ridiculous. That will never happen.”
Responding through a statement by the Kabiru Tanimu Turaki Presidential Campaign Organisation, the presidential hopeful said: “Turaki is eminently qualified to provide the kind of leadership Nigeria needs at this critical juncture of her history.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, he has risen to the top of his profession, Law.
“Turaki has requisite managerial and leadership experiences, having served his country meritoriously as a former Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Supervising Minister of Labour and Productivity, and Chairman, Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of the Security Challenges in the Northeast.”
The statement said the former minister is neither old nor too young to warrant such pettifogging, stressing: “He is strong, vibrant and possess a first-class intellect and the kind of radical ideas needed to take Nigeria out of the woods and make her a respected member of the comity of nations whose citizens would be proud of, instead of the present situation where many Nigerians have lost hope in the country and would do anything to migrate abroad through any means possible.” 
The campaign organization disclosed that ass the current chairman of former PDP Ministers’ Forum, the senior advocate “has picked his Presidential Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms, taken a head start in the presidential race and has no reason to back down for any reason.”
The statement added: “Turaki has toured more states than any other aspirant and has received assurances of support from many of the states so far visited.
He is the New Face of Hope Nigeria needs at this time and we are confident that PDP will give him the mandate to contest and defeat President Muhammadu Buhari, whose visionless administration has set Nigeria several years backward.”
However, the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation, said whether by consensus or outright primary the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar remains the candidate to beat in the election, even as it admitted that beating President Buhari at the main election was easier than picking the PDP ticket.
Speaking on behalf of the former Vice President, the Director, Media and Publicity of the campaign organization, Segun Sowunmi, said political parties must evaluate themselves relatively to what the challenges before them are.
Rationalizing the merits of consensus and outright primary, Sowunmi said: “If you find out that instead of having a catfight where all the aspirants are clawing themselves and wasting all the money, I think it is important to put everybody together and look at who is able to provide the best leadership for all of us.
“But, it cannot be at the expense of democracy itself. Democracy is the imagination that people must generate their own leadership at all levels and in that process, a free fair primary will be the best.
If we want to reduce the cost, because some of this movements are quite expensive, if in the process we want to speak to ourselves as politicians and party leaders and people with the interest of Nigerians at heart.
Then we are able to look at who is the best man that can solve the employment problems in the country; that can unite the country; that can open up new opportunities for the economy and everyone that can tackle insecurities.”
Former acting governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Umaru Fintri, said whatever approach PDP decided to adopt is welcome so far as Atiku picks the ticket, pointing out that the state’s delegates’ votes are for Atiku. 
Fintri, who declared his gubernatorial intentions at the Galadima Aminu road, said he joined the race to rescue the people from the poverty induced by poor governance and visionless ruling party.
The former acting governor disclosed that his 87 days in office serves as testimonial of his mission and vision to reconstruct, rebuild, rebrand and revive the comatose economy and restored the lost glory of the state by improving the welfare of the civil servants and infrastructure.
State PDP chairman, Alhaji Shehu Tahir, told the gathering that the entire delegates votes from the state are intact for Atiku, contending that since Northwest has produced enough presidents, it is now time for the Northeast to occupy the presidency.
He disclosed that the All Progressive Congress (APC) emerged victorious in the 2015 general election due to the support of PDP members, who were protesting the imposition of Alhaji Nuhu Ribadu on the party as gubernatorial candidate.
About 12 presidential aspirants have thrown their hats in the ring for the PDP presidential ticket, a development that has become a source of great concern to stakeholders, who are apprehensive about a stormy primary poll.
The party has tentatively scheduled the event for October 5, 2018.

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