General Ibrahim Babangida has received a face-saving delivery from impending political waterloo, through the hands of ethnical gladiators, led by Adamu Ciroma, who managed to quiten contenders for the presidency in the ruling party, PDP, in favor of customs man, Atiku Abubakar. Atiku Abubakar became the consensus candidate of the PDP in northern Nigeria and will run against President Goodluck Jonathan for the ticket of the party in the primary election slated for December.
Babangida accepted the defeat with immediate effect and alacrity. His campaign spokesman, Raymond Dokpesi, expressed “profound gratitude” to the Consensus Committee for its thoughtfulness in the search for a candidate that shut the door on Babangida's face.
Babangida's earlier venture into presidential politics met a similar fortune when he yielded to former president Umaru Yar'Adua. At the time, he bowed out when faced with the bleak reality Nigerians still disapproved of him for cancelling the June 12, 1993, elections.
Only history and the Nigerian people shall duly reward the Committee members, he enthused, expressing gratitude to the four aspirants who “willingly submitted themselves and their political ambitions and organisations” for a consensus candidate.
Dokpesi noted that “In between the Adamu Ciroma Committee on the one hand, and the aspirants on the other, there is a fundamental lesson which the Nigerian people, over time, will appreciate much more than now.
“Democracy can only be sustained and flourish under the principles of justice, rule of law, equity, and determination, particularly on the part of leadership to respect, adhere and advance the framework of upholding the constitution not only of the country, but also of various institutions such as the constitution of the (PDP).
“You cannot breach the rules and regulations of the party and yet pretend to foster the rules and regulations of Nigeria. Human conduct is a logical system and not merely of opportunism; more so under a regime of democracy and constitutional government.”
Consensus Committee General Secretary, Bello Abdulkadir, who made the announcement in Abuja, said the former Vice President was picked after consultations with all stakeholders and other aspirants, including Ibrahim Babangida, Aliyu Gusau, and Bukola Saraki. Saraki quickly congratulated Atiku.
Bello – accompanied by Northern Political Leaders Forum Secretary, Bashiru Ibrahim and a member of the Consensus Committee, Abubakar Mahdi – thanked all Nigerians, “supporters and critics alike for their views over these past several weeks.”
He said while the Committee noted the views and respected each one of them, it insisted that “no individual, organisation or society dreaming of success and greatness can achieve these dreams without respect for others and honouring agreement voluntarily entered into.
“This is especially so where these agreements have been transformed into a binding document, a constitution, which governs the conduct of those who subscribe to it. We call on all Nigerians to reflect on this.
“We also call on all delegates to the forthcoming party conventions to take these into account while casting votes.”
Atiku, in his acceptance speech, said he is humbled by the decision.
He commended the Committee for its sacrifice, patriotism, commitment, and integrity, saying it made an important contribution to the unity and stability of the country.
He said he is “profoundly grateful” to the other aspirants for their commitment to the consensus process.
To him, all of them are “eminently qualified” for the Villa.
His words: “Their decision to abide by the decision of the Consensus Committee is a further testimony to their patriotism, honour, service and selflessness.
“Nigerians will forever remain grateful to them for their contribution to the peace, unity and stability of this country. I will continue to count on their support in the campaign to win the PDP primaries and the 2011 Presidential election.
“I commend Nigerians for their patience, understanding, support, and prayers. I shall need the support of all as I seek the mandate to be the flag-bearer of the PDP in the 2011 Presidential election.”
Atiku said this is a time for a sober reflection on the challenges facing the country and the immense opportunities that exist for Nigeria to address them.
“I hope that the conclusion of this consensus process will mark an end to the divisive politics which our opponents have been promoting.
“In the days ahead I shall be addressing the press, and will continue to unfold my agenda for providing good governance and building a new Nigeria for all Nigerians irrespective of their ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliations. With your support and prayers we shall make good things happen.”
Turaki Vanguard National Co-ordinator, Dimeji Fabiyi, remarked that the decision of the committee showed that God is with Nigeria.
Former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, said he received the news with interest.
“While we understand the matter as purely a PDP affair, we nevertheless wish them luck in their coming primaries, hoping in the process that the PDP will ultimately give consideration to a national imperative as a guide to their party processes,” added Ribadu, himself a Presidential aspirant in the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Gusau also accepted the emergence of Atiku as the Northern consensus candidate.
He made this known in a congratulatory message he sent to Atiku through the Director General of his Campaign, Ben Obi.
Gusau reiterated his initial pledge and commitment to respect the verdict of the Committee and support whoever is the candidate.
“Without the slightest equivocation, my entire campaign organisation stand by this pledge.”
Likewise, Senator Jibril Aminu embraced Atiku and declared that his choice is in the interest of the North.
“Picking a consensus candidate from among Northern PDP Presidential aspirants will maximise the voting strength of the PDP delegates during the party’s primaries. The consensus candidate will be in the interest of the North,” Aminu stated.
“They said we do not want to split votes at the PDP convention. Instead of fielding so many candidates from the North, it is very important in the contest of our defensible or non defensible geo political interest to pick one person and that’s it.
“It is not as if the PDP is going to pick a Presidential candidate on consensus, but what this Northern group says is that they will field one person as sole aspirant from the North and this will be done with their consensus.”