2023: Consensus plan unsettles APC, members warn against imposition

 

The All Progressives Congress has begun moves to adopt the consensus method at its presidential primary due to the high number of presidential aspirants which has almost hit 30,

Despite the decision of the party to peg the cost of its presidential form at N100m, more aspirants are joining the race.

It was gathered that the high cost of the form and the inclusion of the voluntary withdrawal forms were part of the moves aimed at adopting the consensus method at the primary scheduled for May 30.

However, aspirants and their campaign groups, who had gotten wind of the planned adoption of the consensus method,  were divided over the plan with some of them warning that it could lead the party into a major crisis.

While campaign groups of the APC National leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, warned against imposing the method, organisations campaigning for the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, said their principal would emerge the consensus candidate.

On his part, the Minister of Niger Delta, Godwill Akpabio, in an interview on Channels Television, said consensus and selection were not elections.

But a group backing the adoption of The Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, said other aspirants should step down for the minister.

The APC had pegged the cost of its form at N100m  all in a bid to reduce the number of aspirants and ensure a seamless presidential primary. The cost, however, failed to scare aspirants.

“The reason we pegged the price at N100m was to separate the pretenders from the contenders. But the opposite has happened and we are heading for a crisis if things are not properly handled. So, the NWC (National Working Committee) will meet and decide on the next step since NEC (National Executive Committee) has relinquished its power for the time being.

“The President prefers consensus that is why it is included in our forms but the problem now is that it will be difficult to push a consensus when there are too many aspirants,” a member of NEC told The PUNCH on the strict condition of anonymity.

So far, 12  aspirants have purchased the presidential form. They are: Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, APC stalwart, Bola Tinubu, the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajuiba, Lagos pastor, Tunde Bakare, Governor Mohammed Badaru of Jigawa State, his Ebonyi State counterpart, Dave Umahi, and Senator Rochas Okorocha, Governor Yahaya Bello; the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio; Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi,  Ms Unu Onaneye, the only female and Nicholas Felix.

Others who have joined the race and are expected to purchase the form include Governor Ben Ayade, Ex-Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Governor Kayode Fayemi, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, former Governor Ibikunle Amosun, Senator Orji Kalu, ex-Speaker, Dimeji Bankole, and Senate President Ken Nnamani.

Mr Yakubu Mohammed; Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim; Tien Jack-Rich; Tech Entrepreneur, Adamu Garba; Rev. Moses Ayom; Dr Ibrahim Bello-Dauda; and Ibinabo Dokubo are also expected to pick forms.

The Minister of Science and Technology,  Onu; and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; are expected to join in the coming days. Supporters have also offered to purchase forms for the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele; and former President Goodluck Jonathan

However, while groups loyal to Tinubu rejected the consensus option, those supporting Osinbajo welcomed it.

The Ekiti State Coordinator, South West Agenda for Asiwaju Tinubu, Prince Bamgboye Adegoroye, on Thursday expressed reservation over the much-touted plan by the APC national leadership to impose consensus to produce its presidential candidate.

Adegoroye, who wondered why APC would not adopt indirect primary as done to elect Muhammadu Buhari in 2014, said adopting consensus could be difficult.

He said, “Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has the largest followers in APC. The people following Tinubu are more than the APC. In fact, Tinubu’s supporters are in other parties including the Peoples Democratic Party.

“In case of consensus, if it is Tinubu that is picked, it will be well. And if it is not Tinubu, it will be difficult. Why won’t APC go to an elective primary? I don’t believe APC is planning consensus.

“Consensus cannot be imposed. Consensus simply means agreement among all the aspirants. When you start imposing, it is no longer a consensus, it is something else and anything else can happen after. I don’t want to speculate.”

Also in a chat with The PUNCH, Lagos lawmaker and founder of the Tinubu Support Group, James Faleke, said Tinubu would accept any mode of primary that is stated in the APC constitution.

When asked if consensus would be accepted, Faleke, who picked the N100m APC form on behalf of Tinubu last week said, “There is no such thing as consensus in the APC constitution.”

An associate of Tinubu, who wished to remain anonymous, said the party would be plunged into a crisis if it insisted on adopting the consensus method.

“The national leadership of the party is aware of the consequences of imposing a presidential candidate in the name of consensus. The effect will be too devastating. On several occasions, the President has said he would not impose a candidate on the party. We hope the leadership of the party will listen to this. We are watching. We want to give the National Chairman, Senator Adamu Abdullahi, the benefit of the doubt.”

But the Convener of the Osinbajo Grassroots Organisation, Kwara State, Ganiyu Galadima, said during a telephone interview on Thursday that Osinbajo was the most qualified and would emerge as a winner if a consensus candidate was adopted.

He said, “The Electoral Act recognises direct and indirect primaries and a consensus, and a consensus has not in any way violated the laws of the APC. Osinbajo is not above the party, but I want to put it to you that I am very sure that he is going to make the one if there is going to be a consensus. He has the requisite knowledge, he has been groomed in national politics in the last seven years and is aware of the challenges and the successes.

“And now, as far as the presidency is concerned, tell me who among the aspirants has been a vice president? Under normal circumstances, he has the right of first refusal such that even in advanced climes, all the aspirants must support him except if he says he is not interested. So, at the end of the day, if there is a consensus, he is going to be the consensus candidate. None of the aspirants is above the party; the party is supreme and the people will be voting for the party and not the candidate.”

Galadima added that there would be no consequence for the party if it decides on a consensus because all the aspirants would have been carried along.

Also, the leader of Progressives Lawyers for Osinbajo, Mr Kayode Ajulo, told Ta journalist in a telephone interview that Osinbajo had the right of first refusal and would be selected as the consensus candidate.

“Osinbajo is the popular aspiration as it is, and parties all over the world listen to popular aspirations. And when you look at it from the issue of law, the conventions all over the world, Osinbajo has the right of first refusal so whatever may be the consensus adopted by the party, it will take into consideration the right of first refusal which can never be denied to Osinbajo.

“So, from whichever angle we look at it, if it is by popular aspirations, by the way and manner people are rooting for him, mind you he will stand to be the only candidate by popular demand, because in any formula, whether by zoning or consensus or the position of aspiration of the candidates with people and delegates, it all falls on the side of Osinbajo,” he said.

 

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