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2015 polls: Parties explore consensus to evade violence at primaries

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A head of the general election in 2015, major political parties may have chosen to toe the consensus path in the selection of their presidential and gubernatorial candidates which will only be ratified at congresses to reduce tension and violence that usually characterise election process at conventions, BD SUNDAY has learnt.

It was also gathered that the option of consensus would enable the parties to secretly deal with their internal problems without having to wash their dirty linens in the public.

According to those who spoke with our correspondent, the consensus option will nip-in-the bud internal wrangling as the parties would evolve some mechanisms to address bruised egos, and assuage the anger of those whose aspirations may be cut short through the selection process being adopted.

A highly credible source within the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who spoke with BD SUNDAY from his Abuja base, said it was such considerations that gave birth to the recent adoption of the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan as the party’s flag bearer in the next year presidential election.

“The leadership of the party, having considered many issues, particularly interests of some highly placed members of the PDP who had even covertly and overtly shown their intention to run or support some other persons, decided to bare its fangs by moving fast to announce the consensus thing. It is hoped that with that method, no member of the party will nurse such ambition any further. The party also recognises that such an arrangement will ruffle feathers, hence, the move to reach out by making promises to ‘settle’ such persons with some other juicy appointments,” the source said.

Charles Idahosa, a political adviser to Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, expressed optimism that the party primaries this time around would be rancor-free.

“There will be no problem in the APC primaries. You just saw what happened in Adamawa; that was a test run of what to expect. The guidelines for choosing National Assembly members, governors and others are out. We are going to follow the guidelines, but the constitution of APC also recommends consensus. What consensus means is that if we all agree on a particular candidate, it is okay. In a situation where we don’t agree, we go for congress,” he said.

Henry Seriake Dick¬son, governor, Bayelsa State, said the consensus option is to enable the party reduce the huge cost asso¬ciated with politics of second term and the in-fighting it breeds.

According to him, it would also pro¬mote stability in the party and allow the incumbent to concentrate on the party programmes for the elector¬ate without the distractions associated with securing a second term ticket.

“It is not a dec¬laration of sole candidacy. The term sole candidacy connotes a far cry from what we have done. What we have done, is to stabilise the po¬litical system. What we have done as the dominant party in the country, is to say that we don’t want to subject our members to the costly and stressful experiences. What we have said is that once you are a president from a politi¬cal party, you have a right of first refusal. It will reduce in-fighting and cost of lobbying and campaigns,” the governor explained.

A governorship aspirant in Abia State, who craved anonymity, said although consensus has its advantages, it is, however, not a cure-all.

“In politics, aspirations are welcomed, but we have seen in this country where those who have the capacity to decide who succeed them or those to occupy certain positions are short-changed; they go by sheer sentiment, not on the capacity of individuals to deliver, but because of some other considerations that tilt more to selfishness and illogicality, go for someone that will not only embarrass himself, the party, but also the entire state.

“My candid advice this time around as we sing this consensus tune is that those who it is in their powers to make the selections, for the governorship, National Assembly slots, must be open-minded so as to choose the best people for the jobs. I know that there’s no way the process can be 100 percent flawless given the human frailty, but there must be high level of credibility in the whole process,” the aspirant said.

Parties and consensus option

A social commentator, describing the consensus option, particularly the type given to Jonathan by PDP, popularly known as the right to first refusal, said the process saves any party that adopts it the ordeal of scouting for aspirants and from going through rigorous and most often, acrimonious primary elections to produce a candidate.

According to the pundit, “It is an established fact that primary elections task aspirants to political offices much more than actual elections. Primaries are known to destabilise political parties and leaving them less cohesive if they are not handled with tact and caution.”

Zebulon Agomuo