On Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th August 2018, some presidential aspirants met at Chelsea Hotel, Central Area in Abuja to choose from among themselves what they referred to as a consensus aspirant.
They met under the banner of Presidential Aspirants Coming Together (PACT). Since their meeting however, my attention has been drawn to some media reports purporting to be coverage of the meetings and its outcome, in which I, Jaye Gaskia, along with some others who were not present at the meeting were included in the list of participants, and thus presenting to the unsuspecting public, the falsehood that deceptively portrays that I was present at the meeting, participated in the process, and endorsed it outcome.
Let me state very clearly and emphatically, for the avoidance of doubt that I was not part of the meeting, did not participate in the process, and could not have endorsed the outcome.
Those who claim that their aspiration to lead our country is driven by a mission to salvage and rebuild our country and lead us in a radically different direction from the path which the failed ruling class and its rotten establishment has been leading the country; cannot themselves behave in exactly the same manner as those who they seek to replace.
We must insist that the New Nigeria that we seek, cannot be built on the foundation of falsehood, nor upon the tradition of deceptiveness and lies.
The honourable thing to do is for the organisers to issue a statement based on facts to set the records straight.
That meeting of 30th unfolded in the presence of the media – print, broadcast and new media. So there are documentary evidence to show who was present or not.
For the avoidance of doubt, a group of us 16 Presidential Aspirants who described ourselves as Visionary, had met on 31st of July 2018 at Chelsea Hotel, Abuja. At the end of that meeting we had adopted a communique endorsed by all of us, under the banner of Visionary Presidential Aspirants Coming Together (PACT), and titled Election As Revolution. This communique was widely shared.
Resolutions 4, 5, & 6 of the 7 resolutions that we agreed on speak for themselves, and they are reproduced below:
“4: We understand that Unity is a process, and not an event, and as such, we undertake to effect necessary steps towards consolidating on the process of building a united front based on shared vision and ideas;
5: Towards this end, we are in agreement that internal party processes towards producing eventual party candidates and flag bearers should be allowed to reach its logical conclusion;
6: Furthermore, we are committed to step up the process of building a united front once party candidates have emerged; and shall continually hold consultations among ourselves and broker conversations with our parties towards ensuring that we are able to present a United Front towards the 2019 general elections;”
After the meeting of the 31st of July 2018, a subsequent meeting was called for 9th of August 2018 during which a new agenda to reverse the resolutions and replace them with a hurried process of arriving at the decision to choose from among us a consensus aspirant by the 30th of August 2018.
Four of us were not in agreement with his new position, we made our views known and subsequently opted our of the process. This was why we were not at the subsequent meetings of the 16th, 29th and 30th of August 2018.
Our disagreement with our colleagues was based on principle. We considered that the strategy with the greatest chance for success is one based on the election through a broadly participatory process, involving our parties, of a “Consensus Candidate” after the conclusion of our various party primaries; rather than the uncertain strategy doomed to failure of agreeing a “Consensus Aspirant” from among us through process involving only a few presidential aspirants.
In opting out, four of us – Sina Fagbenro-Byron, Tope Fasua, Eragbe Anslem and Jaye Gaskia had issued a joint statement released on the 20th of August 2018 and shared with our colleagues explaining our own strategic choice and direction, and highlighting our reasons for opting out; under the title ‘Consensus Building As A Process’.
The relevant parts of that statement is reproduced below:
“We want to state very clearly, that we remain committed to this process of producing from among ourselves a consensus candidate; and through our collective efforts, a strategic alliance of our political parties, as well as other pro-people and anti-establishment political formations across the country.
In our country at present, by our laws, only candidates presented by registered political parties can contest in elections.
The strategy with the most chance of being successful in our determination to convert the 2019 general elections process into a revolutionary process that can upstage the current failed ruling class and its establishment; is one that can ensure that whoever we chose as our consensus candidate, actually gets on the ballot, and is a candidate in the general elections.
The only way to guarantee that such a consensus candidate will be on the ballot, is to allow party processes to conclude, such that through party primaries, party candidates then emerge.
Once party candidates have emerged, whoever amongst us that we chose, through a broad process that will include our parties, other stakeholders, and citizens; will be assured to be on the ballot, because he or she would already have emerged as the candidate of a party registered to participate in the general elections.
Our believe is that the opposite strategy of arriving at a consensus aspirant before party primaries, is a strategy with no assurance of success.
Given that we belong to different parties, there is no assurance that any consensus aspirant agreed upon by us will go on to win the primary of his or her party and will therefore eventually emerge as a candidate that will be on the ballot, and that contest in the general elections.”
To conclude, I wish to state emphatically that while I wish our colleagues well in their chosen strategic direction, I believe that the path of honour is for this misrepresentation to be corrected by those who organised the meeting of 30th August 2018.
I affirm my continued commitment and fidelity to the conclusion of our joint statement of 20th August 2018 as quoted:
“It is in the light of the foregoing that we the undersigned Visionary Presidential Aspirants reaffirm our commitment to a process of consensus building, towards the emergence of a viable consensus Presidential Candidate; who will the Flag Bearer of a strategic alliance of our political parties and other political formations.
Furthermore, we restate our commitment to the strategy of building a United Front of radical pro-people forces, as only such a United Front can upstage the discredited ruling class, and undertake the arduous task of Reclaiming our Humanity, Rebuilding our country.”
-Jaye Gaskia, is convener, Take Back Nigeria Movement (TBN), member, Sustainable National Party (SNP) and 2019 presidential aspirant.