Save for the last-minute withdrawal of Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential race and his support for former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the latter would have had a tougher battle emerging as the party’s presidential candidate.
Atiku emerged PDP candidate for a second time in four years at the MKO National Stadium on Saturday during the party’s convention, scoring a total of 371 votes to defeat his closest rival, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike who got 237 votes.
However, in the contest which had 13 contestants, the majority of votes were shared among Atiku, Wike, former Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed, Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanual and former Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim.
Anyim got 14 votes, Udom got 38 votes, Mohammed got 20, while Saraki polled 70 votes.
Other aspirants in the contest are Charles Okwudili, former Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose, renowned pharmacist and business mogul Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Hon Tari Oliver, media magnate Dele Momodu, Chikwendu Kalu and Charles Ugwu.
However, while Ohuabunwa and Oliver got one vote each, Fayose, Kalu, Momodu and Ugwu got zero votes.
There were 12 void votes. Accredited delegates were 767 in number.
However, findings by LEADERSHIP showed that Atiku’s chance was significantly boosted by Tambuwal’s exit from the race and his call on delegates loyal to him to support the former vice president.
Tambuwal was the only aspirant from the North West geopolitical zone which had 182 delegates at the convention, the largest number by any zone.
Atiku’s chance was also boosted by the withdrawal from the race by investment banker Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, following pressure by Northern elders for Northern aspirants to back Atiku for the ticket.
However, the exit of Tambuwal, it was learnt, helped swell Atiku’s votes from the North even though he still had to contend with former Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Borno State governor, Bala Mohammed.
Unlike Tambuwal who outrightly declared support for Atiku after he withdrew shortly before voting commenced, Hayatu-Deen had earlier in the day announced that he was withdrawing from the race, decrying what he called the obscenely monetised primary.
Tambuwal had said, “Time has come for us to make sacrifices in the interest of our party and our nation. I have come to the conclusion that I have to step down.”
The exit of Hayatu-Deen, who hails from Borno State, from the race helped to give Atiku a fighting chance of taking the votes of Borno State’s delegates.
One of Atiku’s returning officers at the poll, Senator Dino Melaye had, in appreciation of Tambuwal’s action, lifted him off the ground in jubilation.
Weeks ago, Tambuwal and Hayatu-Deen had lost out in the Northern Consensus Candidate arrangement to former Senate President Bukola Saraki and Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed.
It was however learnt that Tambuwal agreed to step down for Atiku after he secured a deal with Atiku to emerge Senate president.
Although the voting pattern made it difficult to ascertain how each state voted, it was gathered that all the top contenders secured votes from their states.
The electoral committee, in a bid to protect the delegates, did not designate specific voting boxes for states. It instead laid out 25 polling boxes and restricted use of phones around the polling booths to guard against delegates snapping pictures to show how they voted.
LEADERSHIP learnt that Atiku, Wike, Saraki, Anyim, Emmanuel, and Mohammed were able to secure votes from their states. However, Fayose who was leader of the Ekiti team and scored zero votes, was said to have donated his votes to Wike, his staunch political ally.
While Saraki and Mohammed got votes largely from their geo-political zones of North Central and North East respectively, the Southern votes were shared among Wike, Emmanuel and Anyim.
Atiku, however, got votes beyond his state, Adamawa, as he was able to get votes from most of the Northern states that had no PDP governors.
LEADERSHIP Friday had predicted that Atiku would claim votes of states in the North without PDP governors.
While the accredited delegates were 767, the breakdown of the number of delegates per state are Abia 17; Akwa Ibom 31; Anambra 20; Bauchi 20; Bayelsa 8; Borno 26; Benue 23; Cross River 18; Delta 25; Ebonyi 13; Edo 18; Ekiti 16; Enugu 17; FCT 6; Gombe 11; Imo 24; Jigawa 27; Kwara 16; Kogi 21; Lagos 20
Others are Kaduna 23; Katsina 34; Kano 43; Kebbi 21; Niger 25; Nasarawa 13; Ogun 19; Ondo 18; Osun 30; Oyo 33; Rivers 23; Sokoto 22; Taraba 16; Yobe 17; Zamfara 12.
Anyim, Ohuabunwa, Saraki, Congratulate Atiku, Decry Voting Pattern
Some aspirants in the race yesterday reacted to the outcome of the primary, and while they congratulated Atiku, they expressed reservations over the way the delegates voted.
Anyim in his reaction said, “I must sincerely commend the PDP 2022 Special Convention Committee for doing a great job.
“I’m proud to have gone through the race to the end. However, I am shocked that consideration for voting the PDP presidential candidate was not based on burning national issues and how to resolve them, but still on the old primordial sentiments. It appears doubtful if our search for nationhood is yielding any results.”
He thanked all those who stood by him throughout the race, especially those that voted for him at the primary election.
“I want to assure all of you that we shall continue to stand tall until we birth the Nigeria of our collective dreams,” he said.
On his part, Ohuabunwa told LEADERSHIP that he congratulated Atiku after he emerged on Saturday at the venue.
He however lamented that the delegates did not vote based on the ideological leanings of the aspirants.
He said it was unfortunate that the delegates did not scrutinise the ideological convictions of the aspirant’s while casting their votes.
He nonetheless noted that his conviction to make Nigeria a first-class country remains intact.
Reacting also, the former Senate President in a tweet thanked all his friends and supporters across the nation for keying into “our vision to provide #RealSolutions and #FixNigeria!”
He said, “as we prepare for the future, I am proud that our message of #RealSolutions and deliberate leadership has resonated with millions of young Nigerians across the nation.
“Now, we must all rally around all our candidates across the nation to fix our economy, curb the insecurity, and put an end to the rising cost of living,” Saraki wrote.
Hoh Ndudi Elumelu has also congratulated Atiku, urged unity among party members
“I commend all the other presidential aspirants at the PDP National Convention for their courage, patriotism and remarkable spirit of sportsmanship which they displayed throughout the consultation period up to the National Convention.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that all our presidential aspirants are eminently qualified and that their aspirations were driven by patriotism in line with the mission of the PDP to rescue our nation from the catastrophic misrule of the vicious, corrupt and incompetent All Progressives Congress (APC).”
According to him, the emergence of Atiku Abubakar, with his excellent performance record and unmatched popularity across the nation, signals the beginning of PDP’s historic journey back to power in 2023 to commence the process of rebuilding the nation from the ashes of the misrule of the APC-led government.
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has described the emergence of former Vice President Atiku as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a ‘brazen affront’ on the people of Southern Nigeria by the party.
SMBLF, in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt yesterday, said it appears the unity and peace of Nigeria means little or nothing to a segment of the nation’s political elite.
The statement was signed by Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, for the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and the South-South; Ambassador Okey Emuchay, for Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide and South- East; Comrade Jare Ajayi, for Afenifere and South West; Dr. Isuwa Dogo, for Middle Belt Forum (MBF) and Hon. Ken Robinson, acting coordinator of SMBLF.
It reads in part: “SMBLF recalls that following the release of the guidelines for the 2023 general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), elders and leaders of Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt, under the aegis of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum, made unequivocal proclamations on the need for the presidency to be devolved to Southern Nigeria in 2023, in respect of the time-honoured practice of the rotation and zoning of high political offices between the North and the South by political parties as a way of strengthening national unity, peace and harmony.”
SMBLF further recalled that several engagements were held with various stakeholders across the length and breadth of the country on the subject to foster understanding, mutual respect and oneness.
It also recalled that following the meeting of 17 southern governors in Asaba, Delta State, in May 2021, they also called for the rotation of the presidency to the South in 2023.
The group lamented that the unity and peace of Nigeria means little or nothing to the political elite from the north as was showed in the PDP special convention of 28th May 2022 when certain aspirants from the North were pressured, coerced, and even intimidated to step down for former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in disregard to the established principle of zoning and rotation of power between the North and South.
“Undoubtedly, the singular motive is to perpetuate the hegemony of the North given that President Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim from the North and of Fulani origin will be completing his full tenure of eight years by this time next year.
“SMBLF, therefore, totally rejects the candidacy of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the PDP and calls on our people of Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt as well as all true lovers of peace and unity not to vote for him or any other Northerner in the 2023 Presidential election, in the interest of posterity,” the group said.
SMBLF further urged all aspirants for the office of President from Southern Nigeria to eschew the conceited attitude of individualism and self-confidence, and work collectively to achieve the shared objectives.
SMBLF called on all politicians of Southern extraction not to subjugate their people to political slavery by accepting to be running mate to any Northern presidential candidate.
Ohanaeze To Take Position On Atiku After APC Primary
Apex Igbo social-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday disclosed that it would not immediately comment on the emergence of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the PDP.
Atiku beat Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and other aspirants to emerge winner of the PDP presidential primary on Saturday.
But, in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP in Enugu, the spokesman of Ohanaeze, Alex Ogbonnia, said the body will not make any comment until after the presidential primary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ogbonnia said, “No comment, after the APC presidential primary before we take a position.”
Months ago, the president general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor, had warned the PDP it was committing political suicide for abandoning its zoning principle now it was the turn of the South East to produce a president.
Obiozor was reacting to the decision of the Governor Ortom-led PDP committee on zoning of the office of the presidential ticket which threw the presidential ticket of the party open to all aspirants from all parts of the country.
He had said: “For the purpose of clarity, rotation and zoning principle was ingrained into the PDP party’s Constitution in 2009. Article 7 (2) (c) of the PDP Constitution states: ‘In pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness, the party shall adhere to the policy of rotation and zoning of party and public elective offices, and it shall be enforced by the appropriate executive committee at all levels.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide reiterates the position of the Southern and Middle Belt Leadership Forum led by Chief E K Clark that any party that does not zone its presidential ticket to the South should not expect the support of the Middle Belt and the entire South. It is therefore curious that the PDP should commit political hara-kiri at a time it is struggling for fresh air.”
Umahi Insists On South East Presidency, Vows To Defeat Atiku At Poll
Adding his voice to the zoning debate, Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi yesterday insisted that the South East should be allowed to produce the next president of the country for the sake of equity, fairness and justice.
The chairman, South East Governors’ Forum, made the declaration in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital, while addressing members of the Central Working Committee (CWC) of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and that of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) who were in the state for their quarterly meeting.
He called on the people of the country to not only consider equity and justice in choosing the next president of the country but to also look into the credentials, performances, capabilities and experience of all those angling to be president next year, insisting that only the best is good for the country at the moment.
Governor Umahi, who described as shameful the bribery witnessed in the just concluded PDP national convention in Abuja, stated that the president should have ordered for the arrest of those sharing money and cars at the convention.
Governor Umahi boasted that should he emerge the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) primary, he would defeat the PDP candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the 2023 general election.
He called on Nigerians to always question the wealth of moneybags politicians, adding that many of them were never wealthy until they occupied political positions and looted public funds.
Umahi said “My heart bleeds for this country, to be very frank, because in this quest to be the candidates of various parties, I got exposed to the nakedness of this country and the insincerity of this country and I saw a people that are driven by money.
“The measure of how strong you are is driven by how much you have and I began to ask the question, where did all these monies come from? Which of us has had companies before? Which of us had N100 million before?”
He challenged journalists to project only people with good qualities for the people to vote for in the general election and called on the electorate to reject moneybag politicians.
Atiku Will Rescue Nigeria From Current Challenges – Reps’ Caucus
Meanwhile, the Minority Caucus of the House of Representatives yesterday gave assurance that Atiku Abubakar had what it took to rescue Nigeria from daunting challenges.
Minority leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, while congratulating the former vice president on his victory at Saturday’s primary election, commended other aspirants for their spirit of sportsmanship
He noted that Atiku was qualified to rescue Nigeria from its current challenge.
He said, “There is no gainsaying the fact that all our presidential aspirants are eminently qualified and that their aspirations were driven by patriotism in line with the mission of the PDP to rescue our nation from the catastrophic misrule of the vicious, corrupt and incompetent All Progressives Congress (APC).”
According to Elumelu, the emergence of Atiku Abubakar, with his excellent performance record and unmatched popularity across the nation, signals the beginning of PDP’s historic journey back to power in 2023 to commence the process of rescuing, reuniting, redirecting and rebuilding the nation from the ashes of the misrule of the APC-led government.
“What Nigerians expect from our party at the moment is to put aside all personal and sectional interests, reinforce our unity and lead the charge to salvage our nation and return her to the path of unity, national cohesion and economic prosperity,” he added.
He commended the party’s various organs and structures across the federation for their collective efforts in ensuring the success of the national convention.