Hope for the emergence of a northern consensus presidential candidate for the All Progressives Congress has dimmed as efforts by leaders of the party from the region to broker a deal failed on Tuesday night.
Only a former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, who is one of the four aspirants from the region showed up for the meeting which held at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja.
The others – Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Rabiu Kwankwaso and Sam Nda-Isaiah – were absent from the parley convened by the APC Deputy National Chairman (North), Alhaji Lawali Shuaibu.
Although no reason was given for the absence of Buhari, a former head of state and Kwankwaso, who is the Kano State governor; Nda-Isaiah was quoted as saying he was unaware of the meeting. Nda-Isaiah is the publisher of Leadership newspapers.
When contacted, the Coordinator of the Atiku Media Office, Garba Shehu, said he was yet to get the details of the meeting. But he stated that the position of the former vice-president on the issue of consensus was already well known.
Shehu said, “I am yet to be briefed but the Turaki’s position on this issue is already well known. He has been meeting with delegates in preparation for the primaries.”
He also explained that the APC had since left the issue to the aspirants and that to be best of his knowledge, there had not been any recent meeting where the presidential aspirants met to discuss or agree on the emergence of a consensus candidate.
But the Director of Publicity, Buhari Support Group Centre, Dr. Chidia Madueke, said the absence of the former Head of State and other aspirants from the meeting should not be misconstrued for lack of interest.
He said, “Caucus meetings are normal at times like these. Like you rightly pointed out, it was a caucus meeting, representatives of the various interests were there, even when the principals were not there, it does not diminish the importance of the meeting. Consensus building is an ongoing thing.”
Madueke, a former member of the House of Representatives, expressed confidence that ongoing consultations would yield fruits that the party and its supporters would be proud of.
A highly placed APC member, who was privy to the Tuesday night meeting which was attended by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, and the Zamfara State Governor, Abdulazeez Yari, however, said that the consensus option appeared to be losing its appeal.
The source said, “To be honest with you, the mood among those of us who attended the meeting did not show that the consensus thing will work out.
“All the aspirants, even the most vocal advocates of consensus arrangement, are preparing for primaries. The party’s leadership has also set in motion the machinery for a primary election so, I don’t see how the issue of consensus can gain currency at this point.”
Abubakar had earlier in an interview published by an online newspaper, The Cable, on Wednesday, said that the possibility of the APC producing a consensus presidential candidate was very slim.
He said, “I would like to say, perhaps, we have passed the consensus option, because this is an option that did not go through the National Working Committee; did not go through the NEC (National Executive Committee). So, I think if it did go through all these statutory structures then there is as very slim chance, unless out of the willingness of five us (Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha inclusive), we decide to sit down and produce a process that will throw up a consensus candidate.”
He dismissed a claim that the APC ticket was there for Buhari to pick, adding that he was more experienced than any other aspirant in the party.
The former vice-president stated, “I have been involved in primary election since the early 1990s, and that has given me a lot of experience when it comes to primaries whether they are direct or indirect because we have participated in both types of primaries.
“The perception that the ticket is there for Buhari to take is a mistaken perception because Buhari has never participated in any primaries.”