October 4, 2022

A fierce contest lies ahead within the swelling rank of presidential aspirants on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The titanic battle is between proponents of zoning/power shift versus consensus/open contest.

A day after Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, in Benue State, tossed his hat into the ring, announcing his bid to run for office of president in 2023, the trio of presidential hopefuls, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal and Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, were in Makurdi, Benue State capital, for a sole reason – to propagate the gospel of consensus.

 

While welcoming Wike’s declaration, Benue governor, Samuel Ortom, who doubles as the chairman of the party’s zoning committee, expressed support for his Rivers counterpart for standing by the state during its herdsmen crisis, adding categorically: “On Southern presidency I stand.”

 

Not letting the matter go unchallenged, Saraki said yesterday that the reason they are pushing for a consensus candidate among the presidential aspirants on the platform of the PDP was to reduce the rancour in the process of getting the party’s flag-bearer.

 

Addressing Ortom on behalf of the team, he disclosed that they decided to form a unity team, mainly to enable them reach a consensus among themselves in the days ahead. He stressed that they took the initiative to work as a team without anybody forcing them to do so, adding that it became necessary because the country was too divided by personal interests.

 

Saraki said the team of – Saraki, Tambuwal and Mohammed – would be meeting the former Vice President and another presidential aspirant, Atiku Abubakar, later on Monday on the mission to find a consensus among the number of presidential aspirants.

 

The former Kwara State governor said their visit to the state was to inform the governor, Ortom, who is a critical stakeholder, of their mission and purpose.

 

Saraki said: “I’m here today with two brothers, Tambuwal and Mohammed, as part of the ongoing consultation of the three of us who have shown indication to aspire for presidency under our great party. On our own, a couple of weeks ago, we felt that, in the interest of the party, we should be able to come together and find a consensus candidate among us.

 

“Our interest is very little compared to our country at this time, which is at a very defining moment. I believe only our party can rescue this country from where it is today and those of us who are aspiring are committed to ensure that we find somebody who will unite us, whom we will all support.

 

“That’s a better way to unite the party and reduce the rancour in the process. To do that, we must also carry along key stakeholders of the party, leaders like yourself, and that’s why we are here today.”

 

Responding, Ortom said that, in spite of his belief in a Southern presidency, “the decision of the party on where presidency should be zoned takes pre-eminence.”

 

He appreciated the team for coming up with the consensus idea and submitted that it is high time Nigerians supported younger people.

 

“Any person beyond 70 years should not be looking for presidency. We are in computer age and these three gentlemen you see here are computer literate and they have the capacity to lead the country. We cannot continue to be in analogue. The world has changed, we are now in the digital world and we must computerise and digitise governance too,” he said.

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