All the presidential aspirants in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), except a former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, are open to the idea of the candidate of the party emerging through consensus, according to Sunday PUNCH.
The consensus method will entail the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, anointing one of the aspirants, while the others simply step down for him as was done during the March 26 national convention of the APC, which produced Senator Abdullahi Adamu as the chairman.
It was gathered that all the governors on APC platform of had also adopted the method at the state level.
However, based on the Electoral Act, any aspirant who agrees to step down must do so in writing. Anything short of this will make the consensus option impossible.
In a bid to force the consensus method, the APC had introduced a controversial section in its forms for aspirants to sign that they would step down. However, Sunday PUNCH learnt that this was rejected by the aspirants.
Some major aspirants have begun reaching out to the less popular ones with a view to making them to step down with promises that money used in purchasing forms will be refunded or promises of they will be given juicy appointments.
According to Sunday PUNCH the President would this week meet with the aspirants with a view to reducing the number of presidential hopefuls and also ensuring that all of them pledge to accept the outcome of the primary as was done during the APC presidential primary in 2014.
“The President will meet with the aspirants a few days to the primary with a view to ensuring that there is unity and harmony. He will also meet with the governors separately. The date is not fixed yet, but it should be this week if INEC doesn’t extend the deadline for the primary as we are all hoping,” said an APC chieftain who wished to remain anonymous.
“The President has a candidate. How to present the idea to the likes of Tinubu will be the challenge,” he added.
Buhari’s most senior spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, had said last week that the President indeed had a preferred candidate.
He stated, “In a previous interview when the President was asked whether he had a favourite candidate, he answered yes; but he will not mention him because mischief may happen to that person.
“That shows you that the President himself is interested in the process and he has a preferred candidate; but whether he will impose his candidate is what you cannot determine at the moment.”
When contacted on the telephone, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said he was not aware of any meeting the President would be having with the aspirants.
“I am not aware of any meeting as of now,” he said.
When Sunday PUNCH reached out to several aspirants, they said they were open to any form of primary adopted by the APC, including the consensus option.
The leader of the Progressives Lawyers for Osinbajo, Mr Kayode Ajulo, said the Vice-President was open to consensus. Ajulo said Osinbajo remained a party man and would accept whatever type of primary the party picks.
“We will not go against the wishes of the party. We will accept any form of primary,” Ajulo said.
A source close to a former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, stated that the aspirant would accept any form of primary.
“Senator Okorocha has said this publicly before. He will accept any form of primary,” the aide said.
The Deputy Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, who is also in the presidential race, told Sunday PUNCH that he was open to any form of primary adopted by the party.
“I am open to any form of primary adopted by the party,” he said.