•Ex-Senate President cautions against ‘imposition of candidates’

Former Senate President David Mark and ex-Plateau State Governor David Jang and their supporters are kicking over alleged moves by Senate President Bukola Saraki to engineer the selection of a consensus presidential candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the Northcentral zone.

All three are seeking the party’s ticket for the 2019 presidential election.

A report at the weekend, from Saraki’s camp, suggested that stakeholders from the zone had opted to pick a consensus aspirant from the zone to contest with similar aspirants from the Northwest and Northeast.

But loyalists of Mark and Jang are not amused by the report.

Mark’s camp, in particular, warned PDP against imposition of candidates.

The supporters said the consensus agenda was a plot to ambush their principals to forego their presidential aspirations for Saraki.

Mark’s loyalists, The Nation gathered, were uncomfortable that a private session organized by Saraki was turned into a consensus forum.

“What happened on Wednesday was not a meeting of Northcentral leaders per se. It was Saraki who conveyed the session to brief some leaders from our zone on his presidential aspiration. The former President of the Senate, Chief David Mark was not even there,” a source in Mark’s camp said.

“There was no communiqué agreeing on consensus. The leaders only advised the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of PDP, Sen. Walid Jibril to set up a committee to consult with the three aspirants from North-Central and come out with something.

“They asked the committee to liaise with the aspirants from the zone. No one is talking of a consensus candidate at all.

“The session was more of a personal agenda by Saraki because at the end of the day, a statement from the gathering was signed by the Director-General, Abubakar Bukola Saraki Campaign Organization, Wakil Mohammed.

“With such a sensitive decision on consensus, should the statement come from Saraki’s Campaign DG or stakeholders in Northcentral? Shouldn’t there be a communiqué?

“Why must only a party be the one to sign and issue a statement? We are suspicious of the session; it was a ploy to outsmart other aspirants in the zone.”

Responding to a question, the source said: “The former President of the Senate has not been consulted on consensus option; he is going ahead with his aspiration and plans for primaries.”

A reliable source in Jang’s camp said: “The meeting was called by the Northcentral zone of the PDP at the request of Saraki. It was chaired by the Zonal Chairman, Theophillus Dakas Shan, himself.

“Saraki wanted to brief the zone about his ambition. It was not a Middle Belt meeting but Northcentral and consensus was not up for discussion.

“Actually, it was ex-Governor Babangida Aliyu who urged the meeting to set up a small committee to encourage the three aspirants from the Northcentral to discuss among themselves.

“Going by our plans, Jang will on Monday submit his presidential nomination form.”

When contacted, the Zonal Chairman, Shan said: “We didn’t reach any agreement on consensus.

“We resolved to allow our elders in PDP in Northcentral to talk to all the aspirants. If there is a possibility, we will bring one candidate and if it is impossible, they will go for the primaries. Whatever we are going to do, the three aspirants must reach an agreement.”

Asked if the PDP in the zone had raised a committee on consensus by the three aspirants, Shan said: “We are not going to set up any committee; our elders will talk to the aspirants.”

He admitted that Saraki came around to brief Northcentral PDP on his presidential aspiration.

He added: “We are expecting Mark and Jang to come and brief us on their presidential aspiration too.”

A former governor in one of the Northcentral states said: “I think the DG of Saraki Campaign Organization misrepresented the meeting. There was a suggestion by the President of the Senate for the adoption a consensus candidate by PDP Northcentral which does not amount to automatic recommendation.”

In an address at the session on Wednesday, Saraki said: “Leaders from the North Central need to work together to ensure that a PDP candidate emerges from the zone.

“It is clear that the only way to achieve unity in the country is when you have a leader who can manage the differences and galvanize our energy towards achieving development.

“It is not about where you come from, but it is about what you can do for our country. If there is anybody who can do better than those of us in the North Central Zone, let them stand up.

“It is important that in October, our delegates from the Northcentral should work to ensure that a Northcentral candidate emerges – and they should work together with delegates from across the country to ensure that a Northcentral candidate emerges. We request your support.”

Mark cautions PDP against imposition of candidates

In a statement in Abuja, Senator Mark cautioned PDP leaders against imposition of candidates.

He urged all members of the party to conduct themselves peacefully with a view to ensuring respect for law and order.

“As we converge to elect delegates to the Congresses beginning from Saturday, we must be guided by democratic tenets and observe the principle of fairness and justice,” Mark said in the statement signed by his media aide, Mr. Paul Mumeh.

He added: “We must demonstrate to fellow country men and women that we are truly democratic.

“I am sure that our members nationwide will showcase our reformed and rebranded party as the preferred choice for the people.”

Senator Mark said he joined the presidential race because “I believe I can make a positive difference in Nigeria.”

Continuing, he said: “nobody can shy away from the fact that Nigeria is currently faced with intractable security, economic and socio-political challenges that unarguably threatens the corporality of the country.

“Rarely has our country been faced with such a state of uncertainty, despair, suspicion and division.

“The time has come for all men and women who care and have the requisite experiences and courage to stand up, retrieve it from the brink and lead our nation into prosperity.”

Senator Mark expressed optimism that his roadmap to economic recovery and prosperity tagged ‘730 model’ will turn around the economy of the nation within two years of his administration if he is elected President.

He said he has assembled a team of young professionals who can hit the ground running and facilitate the economic recovery.

He also pledged to give education top priority as the bedrock for development.

His words:”We will focus on education and create a pool of highly trained citizens with excellent IT skills who will be employable as well as create jobs.”

“We will support Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) as a matter of priority with interest free cooperative loans and appropriate technology, which will be the main driver of the economy with attendant rate of huge employment opportunities.”

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