Some powerful members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), concerned about the possible implosion of the party after the 5 October primary election to pick a presidential candidate, are in frantic search of a consensus candidate.
The promoters of the consensus arrangement see it as the “only veritable option” open to the party in view of the huge number of members who have already indicated interest in the party’s presidential ticket, The Nation reported.
There are 11 aspirants at the last count. They include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State; Governor Ibrahim Dankwabo of Gombe State; a former Special Duties Minister, Tanimu Turaki; and a former Governor of Kaduna State, Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
Also in the running are two former governors of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and former Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau; former Governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa; former Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido; and an industrialist, Dr. Baba Datti Ahmed.
Senate President Bukola Saraki said on Tuesday that he is “consulting and actively considering” joining the race.
The PDP has picked October 5 and 6 for its national convention to decide who will fly its flag in the February 16, 2019 election.
But some top members of the party fear that the large number of those seeking the PDP presidential ticket may trigger a fratricidal conflict, the end of which may be difficult to predict.
A similar crisis erupted in the PDP soon after it lost the 2015 elections, leading to the emergence of two factions.
The push for a consensus candidate, it was learnt, has gained momentum among members of the National Working Committee (NWC) who are said to be wary of the backlashes a proper primary might cause the party.
This was after chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party, Walid Jibrin, expressed concerns over the number of presidential aspirants within the PDP about three weeks ago.
He said: “Efforts are on ground by BoT to bring all the PDP presidential aspirants together to consider how best they should accept one of them to stand, realising that despite their number, only one person will emerge as a candidate during the primaries and also only one person will emerge as the president of Nigeria.
“We have men and women of honour in the BoT that will never sell their conscience, and ensure that the best will come out of the presidential aspirant without fear and favour.”
He urged all organs of the party to “partner with BoT in this respect.”
Another highly-placed party official said: “the APC is already settled which gives them a head start with Buhari guaranteed the ticket.
“We cannot afford to lose time and resources with the primary. By the time we are ready settling disputes and appeals, we would have lost valuable space to regain lost grounds.
“So, the consensus option appears the way to go though we have worries whether or not it might sit well with the aspirants.”
Asked if it could be misinterpreted as imposition considering the status of the aspirants involved, the source said: “well, we plan to make it as rancour-free as possible. Yes, one or two of them might kick or even leave but it would have saved us from needless headaches and battles.”