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2011: Choice Of Northern Consensus Candidate Fails

Source: EWACHE AJEFU, ABUJA BUREAU CHIEF - thewillnigeria.com
PHOTO L-R: FORMER VICE PRESIDENT, ALHAJI ATIKU ABUBAKAR; FORMER SENATE PRESIDENT AND MEMBER OF THE NPLF, DR IYORCHIA AYU AND FORMER MILITARY DICTATOR, GENERAL IBRAHIM BABANGIDA.
PHOTO L-R: FORMER VICE PRESIDENT, ALHAJI ATIKU ABUBAKAR; FORMER SENATE PRESIDENT AND MEMBER OF THE NPLF, DR IYORCHIA AYU AND FORMER MILITARY DICTATOR, GENERAL IBRAHIM BABANGIDA.
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ABUJA, Nov 07, (THEWILL) - The plan by the Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to handpick a consensus presidential candidate from its four top contenders from the north has hit a gridlock following disagreements over the choice of one of the candidates which was not acceptable to the other three aspirants in the consensus deal.

A source with knowledge of the dealings of the northern political elders told THEWILL over the weekend that the group has settled for a candidate chosen by the screening committee headed by Mallam Adamu Ciroma and the candidate was to have been formally named last week.

Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Governor of Kwara State, Dr Bukola Saraki according to the source emerged the two top contenders for the group’s endorsement but the screening committee eventually settled for Atiku Abubakar.

According to the source, the choice of Saraki was jettisoned because the group felt his shady dealings at collapsed family bank, Société Générale Bank (SGBN) and Intercontinental bank, where he allegedly facilitated the appointment of the current Group Managing Director, who allegedly wrote off performing loans the Saraki’s owed the bank, would rear its head and frustrate the north’s chances at the polls. Another factor that seriously worked against Saraki is that he is not considered a true northerner coupled with the manner his father, Dr Abubakar Saraki also known as ‘Oloye’ has stampeded Kwarans via the imposition of his children into political offices.

Oloye has publicly ordained his daughter, Senator Gbemisola Saraki as the next PDP gubernatorial candidate in the state. The NPLF felt Bukola would be difficult to sell to the electorate because of these factors and thereafter opted for Atiku who according to the source, was favoured because he had been a Vice President and could easily be presented to the electorate as someone with knowleged of the workings of government and the presidency.

But when the choice of Atiku filtered to the aspirants before they were invited for a meeting with the selection committee, a sharp disagreement followed which resulted in a boycott of the meeting, which has left the deal in a limbo.

From all indications according to the source, the four candidates may have opted to go to the PDP primaries which is expected to hold in January without a consensus candidate, for purely selfish reasons, THEWILL gathered.

Some of the aspirants in the consensus arrangement like General Ibrahim Babangida believe they have the required number of delegates to win the primaries which is why their interest in the arrangement have waned.

Recall that the Mallam Ciroma led screening committee had continually shifted the date for the announcement of the north’s consensus candidate until last weekend when the disagreement peaked, fueling speculations that a consensus candidate may never emerge.

“I am not surprised that the arrangement has fallen apart considering the character of the individuals involved. They are all fighting for their own individual interests not because of the North or the nation,” the source who opted to remain anonymous told THEWILL.

“Is it Atiku who will give up for IBB or is it Gusau who will give up for Atiku or Saraki?” the source queried further.

The NPLF screened four presidential candidates in its search for an acceptable northern candidate for the north. They candidates are: General Ibrahim Babangida, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, General Aliyu Gusau and Dr. Bukola Saraki.