May 24, 2024

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NORTHERN PDP CONSENSUS: Ango Abdullahi played one man show Over Saraki, Bala’s Choice – Baba-Ahmed

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By Abdullahi Idris, Bauchi

The rumpus over a Northern consensus candidate among presidential aspirants of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has thrown the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) into complete confusion

Spokesman of the elders’ forum, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, yesterday disowned their leader, Prof Ango Abdullahi, saying he was acting on his own when he endorsed former Senate president, Bukola Saraki, and Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, as consensus presidential candidates of the North for the PDP.

Specifically, a statement issued by the NEF’s director of Publicity and Advocacy noted that the entire process to produce the consensus candidates did not involve the forum.

According to him, Prof Abdullahi concluded the assignment on Northern consensus candidate, released a detailed report and recommendation, which he signed in his individual capacity.

Prof Ango Abdullahi,
He noted that the forum has remained consistent in its conviction that all parts of the country should play their parts freely, unhindered by restrictions in line with the principles of inclusion and fairness.

Baba-Ahmed said the forum believes that the North has excellent candidates whose fate should be left to party delegates and voters to decide.

The statement reads in part: “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.

“The idea to attempt to engineer a consensus among the aspirants was that of the aspirants themselves. governors Aminu Tambuwal and Bala Mohammed, former Senate President Bukola Saraki and Malam Mohammed Hayatudeen had informed Badamasi Babangida of their intention and requested elderly intervention and advice in the event that their efforts failed to produce consensus.

“President Babangida, in turn, requested Professor Ango Abdullahi in his individual capacity to design and manage a process that could improve a consensus agreement among the four aspirants.”

Disowning Prof Abdullahi, Baba-Ahmed said “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. Professor Ango Abdullahi is free to undertake any lawful activity as a citizen, and genuine misinterpretations of his role are understandable.

“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”.

The statement added that the forum remains united behind the protection and projection of interests of the North and Nigeria, and will play its role as it had done whenever circumstances demand.

But hitting back at Baba-Ahmed, Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, said it smacks of insubordination for the NEF spokesman to issue a statement after their chairman, Prof Abdullahi, has taken a position on the matter.

He insisted that Abdullahi acted on behalf of the NEF, even though not all members of the organisation were invited to participate in the process of choosing the consensus candidates.

The governor noted that the committee was not a party affair but a community affair.

He said rather than being criticised, the Northern elders should be commended for their selfless effort in ensuring they choose a candidate for the North.

Lambasting the NEF spokesman for the statement, Mohammed stated that what Baba Ahmed said was his personal opinon, adding that “he cannot speak on the behalf of what his chairman has already sais.”

The governor continued: “It is a sign of insubordination and I find it unbecoming because if the chairman comes up with a statement on behalf of the organization, it is really unbecoming for the secretary to come and issue a statement disowning it.

“Maybe there were some premonitions permutation or expectation that this consensus will work for others or someone other than myself”.

He further dismissed allegations by his Sokoto State counterpart, Aminu Tambuwal, that voting was done on the day they went to Minna for the outcome of the result.

He added that the committee had started voting since the two weeks period they met the former military president, Ibrahim Babangida.

He said as much as they gave Babangida the sole decision to choose among them who was best to be the consensus candidate, the former military president engaged the NEF because he wanted to expand the process.

He said Tambuwal backed out of the consensus deal because he probably had a premonition that it wouldn’t work in his favour.

“So maybe he had an expo and a free knowledge of premonition of what would happen and he decided to back out, but certainly, I respect his opinion and feelings,” Mohammed noted.

How We Arrived At The Consensus Choice – Unongo

Corroborating Governor Mohammed, a one-time minister of Mines and Steel in the Second Republic, Dr. Paul Wantaregh Iyorpuu Unongo, gave reasons for the choice of the former Senate president, Saraki and the Bauchi governor as the Northern consensus candidates of the PDP.

The elder statesman who was a former chairman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) told journalists in Jos, the Plateau State capital yesterday, that the endorsement of the PDP presidential aspirants for the forthcoming party’s primaries was meant to solidify unity in the North.

Unongo explained that the decision was taken in the interest of the North and North Central in particular to foster its unity.

“Both Saraki and Bala stood out; we felt that a person who was a former Senate president and two-term governor of Kwara State and performing governor of Bauchi State would be better choices for the North.

We felt we should present the two and let them choose among themselves.

“With somebody from the Middle Belt that is Senator Bukola Saraki, we felt he was qualified for the interest and unity of the North. Northern Elders Forum has competent elders.

I can not speak for those that were not there when the decision was taken but by the people I saw there, I felt everyone was represented.

“I was there with Prof Ango Abdullahi and many others and we gave our views. If our able and qualified elders like Yahaya Kwande felt we didn’t do well, they can go ahead and submit their own fresh names and we shall look into it but we felt we have represented all members.”

He said the elders are looking at it from the point of view of keeping the North united and making everybody to have a sense of belonging.

Unongo continued: “The decision was taken within the context of what is best for the Middle Belt and the north at large and was correct in terms of practical applications and past experience.

“It was correct for the North to say it is time for the people of the Middle Belt to produce among our children that are contesting for the presidency and it is proper for our children to refer to us and we advise them accordingly”.

He further hinted that the elders advised that the candidate should come from the Middle Belt, hence the choice of Saraki and Bala.

At This Point I am Quiting, Says Saraki

Meanwhile, following what appears to be the collapse of the consensus arrangement, former Senate President Saraki has caved in, saying he was ready to contest for the ticket at the PDP presidential primary.

He said it did matter if the consensus arrangement collapses, noting that he will contest at the primary to be nominated as the presidential candidate of the PDP in its forthcoming national convention.

Sarki, who was in Minna for the second time in 72 hours, first on Friday at IBB house to be crowned as consensus candidate, was also at the PDP secretariat, Minna, yesterday ahead of the national convention.

Expressing appreciation to the Northern Elders for their efforts in putting together the consensus arrangement even though it has collapsed, he assured the people that as an aspirant he was ready for the primaries.

He said, “We carried ourselves to the elders to intervene and select a consensus candidate from among us.

They left their comfort zone to attend to our request. I appreciate them, especially our elder statesman, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babaginda.”

The former Senate president added that “consensus is an individual decision which cannot be imposed, I am ready for primaries.”

He however said, “It is the turn of the North Central to produce the president. It is our time . Nigeria has not been this bad. We must do something about insecurity.

We must rebuild the country together.

There will not be bandits and terrorists when I become the President “.

Meanwhile he told Niger PDP delegates, that he will empower youths and create jobs if elected President saying that he will end insecurity, banditry and terrorism in addition to enhancing development of the country.

Also, Governor Bala Mohammed described his emergence alongside Saraki on bracket points as the recognition of Northern political establishment after their own decision to do the consensus along with two others.

He explained that their bracket emergence as two consensus candidates afforded them the opportunity to further consult with other aspirants within the country so as to minimize rancour, division and any unpleasant aimed at coming out with a candidate that would sweep the presidential polls for the PDP in 2023.

Governor Bala, who was fielding questions from reporters in Bauchi at the weekend, said, “I have spoken yesterday in Minna about the consensus.

It is the recognition of the Northern Political Establishment on my humble self and Senator Bukola Saraki after we on our own volition decided to do consensus with two others and we came on bracket after due consultation with other elders in the North.

“And we have been asked to further consult with ourselves and other aspirants within the country so that we can minimize rancour and division for us to come out with a candidate that would win the election for the PDP, a candidate that would rescue the country from the present maladministration that Nigerians are today experience.

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