Ahead of the presidential primary election of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) scheduled to hold in May, some leaders of the party have warned against imposition of a candidate or forcing aspirants to accept the consensus candidacy method.
The party, at its national convention few days ago, produced the new national leadership of the party through consensus arrangement after President Muhammadu Buhari appealed to the governors and other stakeholders that it is the best way to avoid rancour at the convention.
Following the successful outcome of the convention, some stakeholders in the party, loyal to President Buhari, popularly referred to as ‘the cabals’ are already pushing for the same consensus method to be adopted during the presidential primaries.
This, however, has not gone down well with other stakeholders in the party who felt that having imposed his preferred aspirant for national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, on the party through the consensus arrangement, President Buhari and his camp may repeat the same during the presidential primary election. They are, therefore, calling for an open contest where all the aspirants will test their strength.
Leading the campaign against a consensus arrangement is the South-West Agenda for Asiwaju 2023 (SWAGA’ 23) which said the idea of a consensus presidential candidate for the APC is unacceptable as it will cause rancour and division in the party.
Speaking with Daily Independent, Hon. Bosun Oladele, SWAGA’s National Secretary, said any aspirant seeking to be the consensus presidential candidate is only trying to get the ticket through the backdoor.
“Like I said, there is nothing like consensus presidential candidate. That will be a short cut which they know cannot be possible through a primary if all the aspirants file out on the field. Nobody should think of getting the ticket through the back door”.
Also, a former House of Representatives member, Abdulmumin Jibrin, who is the Director-General (DG) of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Support Groups Management Council (ABATSGMC), said the way the APC manages its upcoming primaries will determine the survival of the party post-2023.
In a veiled reference to the consensus arrangement, Jibrin in a post on his official twitter handle urged the party leaders to allow the choice of the people to prevail, saying anything short of that will spell doom for the party.
“I have said it repeatedly how the APC manages its upcoming primaries at every level (states and national) including presidential will determine survival of the party. Anything short of allowing the choice of the people to prevail in the primaries will spell doom for the party!”
However, speaking with Daily Independent, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), said while the law provides for consensus, it must not be forced on the aspirants as it may lead to litigation afterwards.
He said, “On the issue of consensus presidential candidate, the law provides for it. However, it states clearly that all the candidates must agree in writing to the person picked as the consensus candidate. I think I prefer that because it means if they all agreed in writing, then nobody can go to court to challenge the outcome after the consensus candidate has been adopted.
“Now, what this means in effect is that if everybody does not sign accepting that particular candidate, then the election remains open for everybody to contest. That is the implication of not agreeing to the choice of a consensus candidate. If by tomorrow, even if the president’s preferred aspirant does not have the written endorsement of all the aspirants to become the consensus candidate, then the election will be thrown open so as not to invalidate the decision of the party”.
“If those who are contesting, come together and agree that the person who is the consensus candidate is the best to handle the position, there is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is where the aspirant is imposed on unwilling aspirants as the consensus candidate. That to me is not being fair and unacceptable and there has to be an election. If all of them agree on one person as the consensus candidate, then there is no need for an election. That is also very good”.
Also sharing Sagay’s view, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, former presidential candidate and APC chieftain, said consensus shouldn’t be forced on any of the presidential aspirants.
He said, “Whether it is consensus or whatever mechanism, there is none of it that is strange to democracy. What is important is that it should not be forced. It should not be imposed. Let every interest compete and let candidates negotiate among themselves to reach that consensus”.
“I am not afraid of a consensus arrangement and I don’t think it is strange to democracy. But it must be through the principle of voluntary participation in the process in such a way that no one is seen to have been cheated out of the process. That is key and it is important”.