BusinessDay

How Atiku emerged victorious

…Sets eye on big fight ahead …Bids for six times: 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019, 2023 …Wike pledges to cooperate …With PDP Nigeria shall be great again – Ayu

Atiku Abubakar, a former vice-president, has emerged the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate for the 2023 general election, amid horse trading and strong determination to wrest power from the incumbent All Progressives Congress (APC).

The desperation by the party to win informed its decision to take some drastic measures, chief of which is the zoning arrangement that is also enshrined in its constitution.

Atiku was declared victorious after a keenly contested primary held at MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja, Saturday.

About 767 delegates elected from across the country voted in the presidential primary.

The chairman of the Convention Organising Committee, David Mark, announced the result of the election Saturday night/early morning Sunday, which saw Atiku, defeating 12 other aspirants to pick the party’s ticket.

In the result, Atiku scored 371 votes to defeat his closest rival, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who polled 237 votes.

Former Senate president, Bukola Saraki scored 70 votes; governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel scored 38 votes; Anyim Pius Anyim, former Senate president, scored 14 votes; Bala Mohammed – 20; Sam Ohabunwa – 1 and Olivia Tariela – 1. There were 12 void votes.

Initially, 17 aspirants purchased the party’s nomination form at N40 million each but two aspirants, Cosmas Ndukwe, a former lawmaker, and Nwachukwu Anakwenze, a United State-based medical doctor were disqualified by the screening committee.

Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State, had resigned his membership of the PDP just few days to the presidential primary, citing hanky-panky dealing.

Also, a few hours to the primary, investment banker, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen announced his withdrawal from the presidential race.

About 24 hours to the primary two aspirants, Charles Ugwu and Chikwendu Kalu announced their decision to step down from the race and support Governor Wike.

Few minutes before the commencement of voting, Aminu Tambuwal, governor of Sokoto State, announced his decision to step down from the race and give his support to Atiku.

There were intrigues hours to the convention after a meeting among key leaders of PDP from the North failed to broker a consensus deal among aspirants from the North as several of them declined to shift ground; preferring to participate in the primary.

There was also a long hours of closed door meeting Saturday at the Transcorp Hilton Abuja by top members of the party, which created apprehension that the party may shift its convention in continuation of the mind game with the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The last few months leading to the presidential convention had been trailed by debates on whose region the PDP presidential ticket should be zoned to.

There was intense pressure from the South-East for the presidential ticket of the PDP to be zoned to the region since it was the only zone among the three leading ethnic groups in Nigeria which had not produced a president since the return to democracy in 1999.

Initially, the party was undecided on the issue, but later decided to throw the race open and gave every aspirant an opportunity to test their popularity in the presidential primary.

With the victory, Atiku is set to face whoever will emerge as the APC candidate from the 25 aspirants jostling to be president of Nigeria from May 29, 2023.

Bids for six times

In a recent interview, optimistic Atiku had said, “I’m the best of them all,” alluding to his astuteness in the game of politics.

He had recently pointedly told the leadership of the party that what the party really needed was an individual that could deliver victory to the PDP and not about zoning.

Atiku has since he joined politics in 1993, contested for the office of the president five times, without success.

He tried it in 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019. This is the sixth time he would be taking a shot at the presidency. Would he score the bull’s eye this time around?

Why Atiku’s victory was expected

Meanwhile, Atiku’s victory was eagerly expected in some quarters, as he was seen as perhaps, the only aspirant, with the most formidable structure with national spread, mileage and popularity across the country capable of winning the presidential election next year. He was also seen in many quarters as capable of mustering the war chest that can give the ruling party a serious fight. These, pundits say, may have informed the party’s leadership decision to jettison the zoning arrangement that is enshrined in its constitution.

Atiku was also the party’s presidential candidate for the 2019 general election.

Read also: The ruling party has ruined all our achievements – Atiku

Wike pledges to cooperate

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, earlier before the voting, vowed to support whoever may emerge as the PDP presidential candidate.

He said, “I want to speak on two subjects. One is the party. Let me vow, today, anybody who emerges here, I’ll support the person to the fullest. I’ll support the person to the fullest because I’m a committed party person. Because I love this party. Because since 1998 I’ve been in this party. I work for this party. I’m not going anywhere. This is my party.”

With PDP Nigeria shall be great again – Ayu

In his remarks at the convention, the PDP National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu called on Nigerians to vote for the main opposition party in the 2023 general election, saying that the country will rise again under its administration.

Ayu made the call on Saturday during the 2022 Special National Convention which was held at the MKO Abiola International Stadium in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He berated the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government for its handling of the nation’s economy, lamenting that Africa’s most populous country is now the headquarters of poverty in the world.

According to the PDP National Chairman, Nigerians are yearning for the return of the opposition party at the federal level.

This, to Ayu, is because the indices under the current administration from terrorism to job creation, debt as well as security challenges has shown that things have worsened.

“In December when we took over, I urged you all to keep hopes alive that with PDP, Nigeria shall rise again. Today, as I welcome all you delegates, observers and stakeholders to our national convention, I repeat the same words to you. Don’t lose hope, don’t give up on Nigeria. PDP is coming to the rescue,” he said.

“We have done fairly well in the byelections that have held across the country. If we competed on level-playing grounds, if INEC were resisted to external pressures and if security agents did not militarise some of the election’s environment, your great party – the PDP – would have done much better.

“The by-elections serve as a very important point, they are a referendum on APC’s misrule. The outcomes of the elections show that Nigerians want us back in power. The reasons are obvious.

“Nigeria is now both the poverty capital of the world, also Nigeria is the third most terrorized country. The economy has collapsed, the government now prints or borrows money to pay salaries, unemployment is about 35 per cent, the government now shares sovereignty with terrorists.”

767 delegates to decide ex-VP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Governor Nyesom Wike, ex-Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and others’ 2023 presidential fate.

The breakdown is as follows:

Bayelsa: 8; Cross River:15; Delta:25; Rivers:23; Edo:18; Abia:17; Anambra:21;
Ebony:13;Enugu:17; Imo:21; Oyo:33; Osun:20; Lagos:20; Ekiti:16; Akwa Ibom:13; Ondo:18; Ogun:20; Adamawa:21; Bauchi:20; Borno:27

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