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2019 Presidency: The Gladiators And Their Self-assessment

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After weeks of speculations, horsetrading and intense campaigns, all the major political parties eventually fielded their presidential candidates. In this report, JONATHAN NDA-ISAIAH x-rays what some of the contenders for the number one seat in Aso rock think about their political credentials.

For the first time in the history of Nigeria, the number of persons who came out to take a shot at the presidency is legion. About 50 persons indicated interest in the nation’s number one job. Reasons for this large turn out, political observers say, are not far fetched. Political consciousness in the country is at an all time high. There is a new wave of political awakening among Nigerians and certain dynamics in the country’s political space may have given filip to the number of candidates. 

Sunday October 7 was the deadline given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for submission of names of presidential candidates and other offices. With this in mind, political parties adopted a rapid fire approach in ensuring that they put their acts right. As at Sunday, the parties who intended to field presidential candidates had already wrapped up their presidential primary elections. Bellow are some of the presidential flag bearers for the 2019 presidential poll and what they have to say about their credentials.

Muhammadu Buhari

The incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari, was the sole candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Like all advanced democracy in the world, the incumbent president is always given a right of first refusal and it was no different as Buhari ended up as the sole candidate of the APC. Another factor that led to him becoming the sole candidate was the high cost of presidential forms of the party, which was sold at N45 million. In spite of the fact that Buhari was the sole candidate of the APC, a direct primary system was adopted for the election where he polled 14 million votes.

Last Saturday night, the APC held a special session to ratify Buhari’s candidature. A total of 7000 delegates affirmed President  Buhari as the candidate of the party in the 2019 presidential election through voice vote under the supervision of Ekiti State governor-elect, Kayode Fayemi.

The affirmation was done after the results of the direct primary election from all the 36 states and the FCT were announced. President Buhari scored 14, 842,072 votes from the 36 states and FCT.

At the convention, after a voice vote to affirm the president’s candidacy, Fayemi disclosed that President Buhari’s name would be sent to INEC for ratification. Chairman of the convention planning committee, Governor Abiola Ajimobi, urged all the delegates to affirm Buhari.

Hear Ajimobi: “We have a tested general who is complemented by his deputy, Vice President Yemi Osibanjo and supported by political veterans. This convention opens yet a new chapter in our political space. This party today will again pick a time tested general in the person of Muhammadu Buhari as its sole candidate. He is the antidote of all political locusts, the machine gun for all the political mercenaries. He is the best president for the people.

“I call on all of us to reaffirm the greatness of Nigeria by endorsing President Muhammadu Buhari as a man to lead us simply because his records represent a man that can lead us. Let us not succumb to the wicked propaganda of our opponents; let us be steady and keep our eyes on the goal. Let’s join hands with President Muhammad Buhari and roll up our sleeves.”

On his part, APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, said “Sir (president) we are most privileged. I will give thanks to Almighty God for making today possible for us to be able to hold this convention. The purpose of today is to formally affirm the presidential candidate of our great party. But even before now we had decided with your encouragement that we will conduct direct primaries for the presidential candidate. We are very appreciative of the support you gave.

“You are the first president to be elected through direct primaries. When I saw while you (President Buhari) were away how party members turn out to support you, that meant everything. It means that we have moved from the era of deceit”.

In his acceptance speech, Buhari reeled out his achievements in the last three years. He said, “The result of the presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress this time is different because I am the only candidate. I thank all other eligible candidates who deferred to me in the interest of our party unity and over-all national stability.

“Fellow party members, it is with a deep sense of humility that I stand before you today to accept the nomination of our party, the All Progressives Congress, to be its candidate and flag-bearer in the 2019 presidential elections.

“As I stand today before you, there is no honour greater than the confidence given to me by all of you when you affirmed my nomination. I thank you for your support. I thank you for your guidance. I thank you for staying committed to the CHANGE agenda. I accept this honour as a tribute and mark of confidence to carry the responsibility as we all join hands to continue the good work of the APC government to 2023 and beyond.

“We are very proud of our record from 2015 to date:a. We have arrested and checked the slide to anarchy on the security and economic fronts.. Boko Haram is reduced to dastardly attacks on soft targets. Normalcy has returned to much of North East and neighbouring North West states. Our currency has stabilised. Our reserves are now $44 billion, a lot higher than we had in 2015.

“Power generation capacity has reached 8,000 megawatts against less than 4,600 when we came into office. As we invest in new power generation infrastructure we are strenuously working to address the legacy deficiencies and challenges of transmission and distribution networks across the country.

“We are executing Independent Power Projects in 9 Federal Universities to deliver uninterrupted power supply and we intend to expand to a total of 37 Universities. We have revived most of our capacity to produce fertilisers locally. Security down! 18 local governments of Nigeria under control of a hostile army of insurgents.

Reserves depleted! Bankruptcy around the corner.What did they do with your money? Internationally, Nigeria is now respected. My interaction with foreign heads of state and government has been very encouraging. The international community is very supportive of our efforts to put our country in order”.

Atiku Abubakar

After many years of vying stubbornly for the presidency, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, on Sunday emerged the candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Since 2003, Atiku Abubakar has been contesting the presidential elections, either as an aspirant or candidate. In 2011, he lost in the PDP presidential primary to then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. He also lost the 2015 primaries on the platform of the APC to Buhari.This year, he is third time lucky as he will be flying the flag of major a political party. In 2007, he contested the presidential elections on the platform of the ACN.

In last Saturday’s convention of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar polled 1532 votes to get the ticket, defeating his closest rival the Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, who polled 693 votes at the party’s National Convention held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, chairman of PDP Convention Committee, disclosed this on Sunday at the Adokiye Amaesiamaka Sports Complex, Igwurita-Ali, Port Harcourt while announcing the results of the 2018 special national convention of the party.

In his acceptance speech, Atiku said he learnt a lot under Obasanjo when he served as his deputy from 1999 to 2007. He also described the primary election as the most credible since the return of democracy in Nigeria.

Atiku said, “Today, we are witnessing a landmark event. A landmark event in the sense that since the rebranding of our great party, the PDP, and infact I daresay, since the return of democratic rule of governance in this country, we have witnessed the most credible transparent and fair primaries.

“Let me also commend my fellow competitors for displaying a sense of unity, a sense of purpose and a sense of commitment. This is a very rare event; my fellow compatriots have really shown that the interest of the party and that of the people of this country is paramount and more important than our individual interest.

“I want to pay tribute to each and every one of them assure you that I am ever ready to work with each and every one of them for the realisation of the victory of our party in the forthcoming elections.

“I cannot do it alone, I need your support, your assistance, I need your understanding and I need your participation. It is not a one man’s job, it is a collective responsibility and I am prepared to listen to you,  to take your advice, consult with you, work with you and together, we’ll succeed and after we succeed, we shall all be partners in that success.

“Finally, on a personal note, I wouldn’t have been standing where I am standing today if my former boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo have not made me his vice-president. Under his tutelage, I learnt quite a lot and I believe the experience and care I got is going to definitely impact on how we eventually govern this country, I wish to pay my personal tribute to him.”

Donald Duke

Former governor of Cross Rivers State, Donald Duke, emerged the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The former governor was declared winner  at the party’s national convention held at Old Parade Ground, Abuja. Abdul Isiaq, the returning officer, said Duke polled 812 votes to defeat Jerry Gana, former minister of information, who polled 611 votes.

In his acceptance speech, Duke said his emergence was a collective victory for all aspirants that participated in the contest. While calling for the support of other aspirants and party members, Duke said he “will reawaken in Nigerians that yearning that we are destined to be, but we cannot do this alone.

“What divides us is inadequacy and wants, because in the face of this survival of the fittest comes in, which ought not to be so because there is more than enough for everyone. This is what good governance is all about and that is what I stand for”, he added.

Kingsley Moghalu

Former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Kingsley Moghalu last month emerged the presidential candidate of the Young Progressive Party (YPP). His  emergence was at a delegates’ election at the party’s first national convention and presidential primaries.  Moghalu obtained 243 votes from 253 accredited delegates to beat his only opponent, Donald Igwegbu, who stepped down for him.

Igwegbu, while announcing his decision to step down for Moghalo, said he took the decision not because he was not qualified to contest in 2019 but because Moghalu shared the same vision with him. CallIng on party members and his supporters to support  Moghalu, he urged other politicians to emulate his spirit of sportsmanship.

In his acceptance speech, Mogbalu noted that Nigeria needs a leader of international repute, not politicians that had failed the country. He said, “More than ever before, Nigeria needs to be driven by a vision, informed by a worldview that determines everything else. Up till about 40 years ago, China was viewed as a basket case; overpopulated, unproductive and ruined economically by policies of the decades prior to that.

“Today, they snap their fingers and nearly every single African Head of state shows up in China with their hands out, eager for Chinese largesse. That’s what a country driven by a worldview can achieve. In accepting the presidential ticket of this great party, I stand here before you to say that Nigeria is fully capable of achieving greatness at home and abroad in our lifetimes.

“But this cannot happen with the normal way of doing things, the so-called Nigerian way. It is a choice between remaining a mere fractious assortment of ethnicities and religious on one hand and building a real nation on the other.

“It is a choice between freedom and slavery under our recycled and corrupt politicians; between poverty and prosperity for our masses of the poor, and the unemployed, and between stability and continuing instability of the Nigeria state.”

Isaac Ositelu 

Accord party unanimously presented the party’s flag to Isaac Ositelu to contest against President Muhammadu Buhari in the forthcoming presidential election slated for February next year. At a national convention held in Abuja at the party’s national secretariat, the delegates from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) ratified Ositelu to be the party’s flag bearer in an indirect primary election monitored by INEC official.

In the election, there were 98 delegates, all of who voted for Ositelu, without any voided vote. Speaking during convention, the national chairman of Accord, Muhammad Lawal Nalado, said it was the first time the party will be presenting a presidential candidate since it was registered by INEC in 2007.

He said though many people had approached the party in previous general elections to fly the presidential flag of the party, Accord refused because it did not want to go into the presidential election for mere show, especially given that it felt it did not have the required national spread to win presidential the election.

He expressed confidence that given how fast the party had spread over the years across the country, Accord is convinced that it now has what it takes to win the 2019 presidential election, hence it is fielding Isaac Ositelu, who he said will not disappoint Nigerians.

Speaking further, Nalado said Accord remains one party that does not have a godfather or sole financier like other parties, adding that the convention remains the highest decision making organ of the party.

In his acceptance speech, Ositelu said he took interest in the presidential election because he believes that Nigeria should be mindful of the kind of future to bequeath the upcoming generations.

He lamented the high level of joblessness, lack of basic infrastructures like road and social safety facilities in the country. He said if elected, the government of Accord will create six million jobs yearly. This he said, is achievable if the government has both the right policy and political will to implement such policies.

While vowing to confront the root causes of corruption rather than the symptoms as being done by the APC government, Ositelu said he has packaged a radical manifesto called I-TEN, which implies grassroots infrastructure development, trust between government and the citizens, economic revolution and provision for the next generations.



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