*As party leadership fails to deny settling for consensus option ahead of presidential primaries
*Tinubu camp kicks, says we’re not expecting any consensus
*No definite date has been fixed for APC’s presidential primaries
*Party plans to prune list to 6 presidential aspirants from each geopolitical zone
By Lanre Oloyede
Thick air of confusion and anxiety Wednesday enveloped the National Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as news filtered in that the party might have settled for a consensus option to decide its presidential flag bearer for the 2023 general elections.
The failure of the party to come clean and open on the date and modalities for the conduct of its presidential screening and primary election had fueled diverse speculations and rumours from different quarters.
The report, (though unconfirmed), which filtered in the late hours of Wednesday stated that the ruling party has settled to pick its candidate for the 2023 Presidential election through a consensus arrangement.
It further claimed that the National Chairman of the party, Abdullahi Adamu, dropped the hint in an interview with some select journalists in office Wednesday evening.
A close party source also confided in our correspondent that the party hierarchy has hatched a plan to prune the number of the presidential aspirants from 23 to 6 with one aspirant emerging from each geopolitical zone through a zonal consensus.
The source said President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the aspirants to go and agree on a consensus candidate from each of their geo-political zones.
He said: “We heard they are screening to prune down the aspirants to one aspirant from each geopolitical zone so that the number of aspirants that will be screened will be manageable. Some people are trying to push the President to pick a consensus candidate from the North.”
“The consensus arrangement is to start from each geo-political zone and at the end of the day, a consensus candidate will be taken from the six aspirants that will fly the flag of the party”, the source said.
However, authorities of the ruling party have refused to confirm or debunk the report as all attempts and requests made by Nigerian Pilot to verify the veracity of the report proved abortive.
Anxious journalists covering the ruling party were left confused and stranded of information as staffers of APC too were bemused by the report as they too claimed they were confused about what was going on.
In an unsuccessful attempt to glean information from the party’s Deputy Director Publicity, Mr. Edegbe Odewengie, said: “I have zero information about the report. I saw it like every other person on the platform. Until I have an official statement, then I will release it.”
Meanwhile, associates and campaign frontiers of one of the leading presidential aspirants on the platform of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, have reacted to the claim of APC settling for consensus.
One of the principal personalities on Asiwaju’s campaign team who spoke with Nigerian Pilot correspondent on condition of anonymity said that Asiwaju is not looking forward to any consensus arrangement but rather he is awaiting for the party to release the date of screening and he is prepared to attend the exercise.
“They said the National Chairman is waiting for a directive from the President, they want to cause problems. They want to cause problems. But we are waiting for what will happen.
“They fixed the screening for Tuesday; Asiwaju had to cancel his trip because of that only for them not to do it again. Even yesterday (Wednesday) they refused to do it,” he stressed.
Speaking on the consensus rumour, he said: “It’s the rumour everyone is hearing but we are not looking forward to any consensus but however we are watching to see what they will decide.”
Also speaking, a high ranking member of Tinubu Support Group, TSG, claimed he wasn’t aware of the alleged consensus arrangement claiming that the group is waiting for directives from the party.
“I don’t know, I’m not aware, I’ve not seen him (Tinubu) today.
“We are waiting for the party to send us the time for the screening.
“We are interested in waiting for the party to begin screening, when we get to the river, we will cross the bridge”, he added.