Tambuwal, Bala, Saraki meet over 2023 presidential race

By Rex Enabulele and Joshua Omoloye

  • Ticket must go to South, ex-commissioner warns

Governor Bala Muhammad of Bauchi State has hosted his Sokoto counterpart, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and former Senate President Bukola Saraki to a consensus building initiative on the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) presidential ticket.

The three are of northern extraction and seeking the party’s presidential ticket. They met for about two and half hours in Government House, Bauchi, towards producing a consensus northern candidate against any from the South.

A statement by Governor Tambuwal’s Special Adviser on Media, Muhammad Bello, said: “At the close of the meeting they posited that it is their considered resolution that against the backdrop of the failure of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to provide good governance, all those seeking to be President under the PDP should unite and rally round one candidate”.

They were also said to have agreed that at a later date they will visit former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, another presidential aspirant from the North, to brief him on the outcome of their brainstorm.

According to the statement, Saraki who briefed journalists after the meeting said: “We appreciate that all of us have shown ambition but only one person could lead. “For this reason, we decided that we should all embrace consensus going forward in order to make things easier for our party’s stability.”

He pointed out that, taking cognizance of the sorry state of the country and its people, which the APC is not ready to alleviate, they are convinced that the PDP must lead the way in the March to rescue the country in 2023. He explained that although all of them seeking the presidential position are qualified to contest, they are ready to sacrifice their ambitions. “We have agreed to put our heads together and see how best to provide leadership and direction for this country, its unity, stability and progress.

“These are more important than our individual ambitions, thus the need for us to work together. “Today is momentous. The PDP is ready because what is important is Nigeria.

Whatever we do, Nigeria should come first,” the former Senate President further added. While Tambuwal was accompanied by a former Deputy Governor of Zamfara State, Barrister Mahdi Aliyu Gusau and a chieftain of the PDP in Sokoto, Engineer Bello Suleiman, Saraki came along with a former national chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje and others. Bauchi State Deputy Governor Engineer Baba Tela, was also at the press briefing. Meanwhile, a member of PDP, Prince Kassim Afegbua, has criticised Atiku Abubakar on recent comments made by the latter in respect of the party’s choice of presidential candidate ahead of the 2023 election.

Atiku had last week at a meeting with members of PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) in Abuja said the party may go into extinction in 2023 if it fails to get its presidential candidate selection right. Afegbua is a former Commissioner for Information in Edo State.

In a statement entitled, “How Atiku Abubakar goofed again,” Afegbua also cautioned PDP leaders to come clear on the direction for its presidential ticket.

He said: “Talking about 2023, I read somewhere that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar said PDP would go into extinction in 2023 if they didn’t get it right. How wrong?

The PDP has come to stay as a viable political party that will endure the test of time. The fact is, once Alhaji Atiku is beaten at the party’s primaries, he will surely go into extinction and run away to his usual destination, Dubai. “There is no sincerity of purpose.

What you see is a culture of desperation and huge sense of self entitlement as if the party was built or created for him. Only last week, the party talked about setting up a zoning committee to look into the issue, the following day, Alhaji Atiku ambushed the party by purchasing the nomination form.

Who does that? Where is the honesty and sincerity of purpose? “Why wouldn’t he wait for the zoning committee to be composed, meet and come up with a decision? He has also set 23rd of March for his official declaration at the Conference Centre without waiting for any position of the party.

“Still talking about extinction, when Alhaji Atiku left PDP in 2007 to contest in another party, the PDP still won the Presidential election and became stronger in form and stature, The Trumpet gathered.

Shortly after, he returned to the PDP again. In 2011, Alhaji Atiku also contested the primary in PDP and he was defeated by President Jonathan. He left the party and contested in another party, he still failed woefully.

“He later joined forces with the merger committee that gave birth to the APC and contested the primaries in Lagos with the incumbent President in 2014.

He was beaten flat at the Lagos convention of the APC. Yet, PDP remained strong. “Aside from losing the presidency, PDP was still able to retain 16 Governorship positions across the country.

The party never went into extinction, instead it has continued to remain the last hope of the common man. Alhaji Atiku returned to PDP realising that his journey in APC would not give him opportunity to contest the 2019 Presidential election. “Flowing from this narration, aside from age, Alhaji Atiku has not been consistent with the PDP. He’s driven by his ambition always and not the growth of the party to deepen democracy.

This was how President Buhari pleaded that he should be given opportunity in 2015 to rebuild Nigeria, now we have seen the albatross that has become our plight. “In 2019, Alhaji Atiku bulldozed his way and emerged the party’s Presidential flagbearer. After the election, he couldn’t even wait for us to prosecute the project at the tribunal, he bolted away to Dubai.

That was the last we saw him, except for now that he saw another Presidential contest coming, he suddenly emerged from the blues and wants the ticket to be ceded to him against the run of play.”

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Afegbua said with or without Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the PDP, as an organic party, has remained strong, viable and formidable. The party, he said, “is presently the only hope of the common man following APC’s underperformance in the last 7 years. Nigerians are looking forward to the PDP to get it right this time by fielding a candidate from the South. This position is an irrevocable one that cannot be compromised by any interplay of forces against the provisions of Article 7 of the PDP constitution. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar should quit the stage at.this time and.allow justice to prevail. I am very sure he will run away to Dubai again once he loses out.” Cautioning party leaders not to compromise PDP policy, he insisted that the south deserves the party’s presidential ticket this time around. He therefore warned them not to compromise party’s position.

He also asked Atiku to abide by the zoning policy which has become an unwritten convention that has guided PDP in the past. He added: “I have cautioned the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, for the umpteenth time, that it will be sacrilegious and morally reprehensible to continue to indulge Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and.other Northern aspirants in the race on who emerges the Presidential candidate of the party for the 2023 election.

“I have repeatedly said that for the sake of justice, equity and fairness, the ticket should be ceded to the Southern part of the country. This is how to promote party cohesion, unity and oneness of purpose. It was in realization of that, that the Southern axis allowed their Northern brothers to take a shot at the presidency alone and all alone in 2019. Now that it should be the turn of the South, you see the leadership of the party talking with its tongue in cheek.”

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