Governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have rejected the idea of consensus candidature ahead of their national convention of the party on Saturday.
Multiple sources privy to the outcome of a meeting held at Government House in Port Harcourt told journalists the governors asked all delegates to go and vote for candidates of their choice.
“They have just met, and there was no consensus on any candidate” a source told journalists as he emerged from the meeting at 12:09 a.m. Saturday. “The delegates are now free to choose whoever they want.”
The decision could prove pivotal in a race largely considered too close to call even hours to its commencement.
There have been fears that all the twelve PDP governors may rally behind a candidate. Considering the formidable influence the governors wield over party affairs, political analysts expect whoever they endorse to easily coast to victory.
Two PDP governors are in the race, the remaining 10 governors felt it would be inappropriate to be openly partisan towards one of them.
But with delegates now being asked to go and vote independently without being instructed by the governors, who often play the role of custodian of delegates, the fierce competition already witnessed in the weeks leading up to the primaries may get even more intense well into the last minute.
Even though governors have their individual preference among the aspirants, the decision to let delegates be free to make their choice could mean there would be more delegates to lobby for aspirants.
At least 4,000 delegates are expected to participate in the primaries, according to party officials. They have been arriving in town since Wednesday, and the last set would arrive by morning on Saturday.
At least five of the 12 campaigns said their respective candidates would not step down for anyone else.
“No one is going to step down amongst the top contenders,” a source said. “You are more likely to see them win one vote and lose than to step down.”
Two of the aspirants, Senate President Bukola Saraki and Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe, publicly denied planning to step down for any candidate.
The 12 candidates in the race are: Atiku Abubakar, Ahmed Makarfi, Aminu Tambuwal, Datti Baba-Ahmed, Attahiru Bafarawa, Sule Lamido, Bukola Saraki, David Mark, Jonah Jang, Kabiru Turaki and Rabiu Kwankwaso.
They have all expressed confidence in their individual abilities to clinch the ticket and face President Muhammadu Buhari as the main challenger in the general election next February.