By Akinwande Soji-Ojo
Former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, have emerged as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) consensus candidates.
The duo were shortlisted by northern leaders ahead of the party’s presidential primary on May 28.
Their emergence was part of the recommendations made by a committee which is made up of northern leaders and presidential aspirants in the party.
The recommendations were contained in a communique signed by former vice chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Prof. Ango Abdullahi.
The northern leaders said the decision to elect Saraki and Mohammed was based on criterias adopted in the assessment of the four aspirants who submitted themselves for the exercise.
Aside the duo, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, and Mohammed Hayatu-Deen presented themselves for the exercise.
It was resolved that a leading aspirant from the North Central and one from the North East are to be presented as northern presidential candidates, the communique said.
The two “would in turn be required to make further concessions so that in the end, one of them would be presented as the consensus candidate.”
Prior to the election, the four aspirants visited former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, and asked him to lead the process for a consensus.
They also agreed to abide by the outcome of the decision.
The communique further explained the selection process and performance of aspirants.
In phase one of the exercise called “candidates assessment,” the leaders sought the opinions of six persons from the three geo-political zones. They were asked to also cast their votes.
“At the end of this phase, Saraki and Gov. Mohammed scored 10 votes each while Tambuwal and Hayatu-Deen got seven and five votes respectively,” the communique reaf.
In phase two, “zonal assessment,” Saraki got eight votes, while Mohammed and Tambuwal got seven and two votes respectively. And no vote was recorded for Hayatu-Deen
In the third phase, Abdullahi said resort was made to the historical antecedents of the PDP with regards to previous northern aspiration and the following conclusion was reached.
“That the North West has had the opportunity of contesting and even forming government in 2007.
“In 2011, a consensus was made among the four northern candidates, which North East got but lost at the primaries. In 2019, it got the slot again though the party could not form the government.,” it said.
The panel also noted that the North Central has not had a single opportunity to get the PDP ticket since the inception of the current fourth republic.
“For the purpose of this exercise, it is hereby resolved that Gov. Bala Mohammad from the North East and former Senate President Bukola Saraki from the North Central be presented as the northern consensus candidates for the moment,” the northern leaders said.
The northern leaders urged Saraki and Mohammed to “foster understanding among themselves, and the PDP community to ensure a rancour-free primary in which all eligible delegates would be free to exercise their right.”
This development comes amid uncertainty regarding the party’s final decision on zoning.
Although the Governor Samuel Ortom-led committee had made recommendations to the PDP National Executive Commitee few weeks ago, but the party is yet to take decision on the issue.
While northern leaders want the party ticket to be thrown open, the southern leaders insist the position be zoned to the South.
There are 17 aspirants jostling for the PDP presidential ticket.
How Saraki, Mohammed emerged PDP’s northern consensus candidates