2019: Atiku emerges PDP candidate, beats Tambuwal, others

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…race for Atiku’s running mate intensifies

…Daniel, Dickson, Obi, Iweala, Wike and Fayose make VP list

By Ayo Fadimu, Ikenna Omeje, Mary Amodu, Abuja and Barth Ndubuwah, Port Harcourt

The former Vice President and front runner in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Primary Election Alh Abubakarhas won the party’s presidential primary, thus emerging the candidate to fly the party’s flag in the 2019 general elections.

Atiku achieved the feat in a keenly contested delegates primary during a 2-day National Convention of PDP held in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Capital Saturday and Sunday2018.

Atiku   scored a total of 1,532 votes to beat his closest rival, Aminu Tambuwal who scored 693 votes.

He was followed by the SenatePresident Bukola Saraki who polled 317 votes to place third.

The least of the 12 aspirants was Dr Daiti Baba Ahmed who scored 5 votes.

Declaring the result, the Governor of Delta State and Chairman Planning Committee of the 2018 PDP National Convention, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa said  ”Alhaji Abubakar Atiku having scored the highest lawful votes, is hereby declared winner. Thus he will fly the Presidential flag of PDP, in 2019 general election in the country.” In his acceptance speech after the primary, Atiku said he was humbled by the support given to him by the  3,221 delegates  of the party and promised not to let them down.

“I want to thank the delegates for the support you showed me. Let me also pay tribute to His Excellency, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State for organizing the most transparent and credible primary election in the history of PDP. I look forward to working with you until PDP returns to power in 2019. Nigerians are clamouring for PDP’s return to power, because they have compared the PDP and APC governments. The next phase of my campaign is to proffer solution to the already identified problems plaguing the country”.

Alh Atiku also paid glowing tribute to his former boss, former President Obasanjo for his mentorship, which he said prepared him for the task ahead.

Earlier,the National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus assured Nigerians that in 2019 PDP will take over the mantle of leadership in the country.

He identified hunger, unemployment, insecurity and poverty as some of the numerous problems confronting the nation, assuring that the PDP government will tackle  them frontally if elected in 2019

“Your Excellencies ,dear delegates as you must have been following developments in our country today is very disturbing as the ruling APC has progressively shown in all ramifications that it lacks the wherewithal to  manage this country. Poverty ravages our land, as economic mismanagement and lack of clear direction have reduced Nigeria to the global warehouse of the pooor and dispossessed,“ Secondus said. The PDP National Chairman emphasized that his party would right the wrong if given the chance by electing  her into office in 2019.

“Today I call on our country men and women to rise from the valley of hopelessness to the hilltop of a new beginning. The new PDP is rising from the creeks of the Niger Delta to the destroyed savannah of Borno to renew our nation pledge. We shall defend our unity by including everybody in the running of the affairs of our country. We shall uphold the honour and our glory of great country by restoring our sense  of national purpose and destiny.

PDP will secure Nigeria. We will end the carnage in the North East. We will stop the bloodletting whether by cattle rustlers or farmers and herdsmen’s conflict through a law and order approach,” Secondus stressed.

In similar vein,  the jostling for who will be running mate of Atiku has started in earnest  According to sources close to Atiku, he has referred the question of who will be his running mate to the party elders to decide. This, many believe, would serve to heal any wounds that may have arisen from his landslide over Governor Aminu Tambuwal who had been enjoying the unhindered support of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and the state delegates loyal to him.

There are many eminent PDP members across the country who are qualified for the role but discussions with top PDP stalwarts at the venue of the just concluded PDP National Convention revealed that the front runners for the position of Vice Presidential candidate are Chief Gbenga Daniel, Governor Nyesom Wike, Dr Peter Obi, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Gov Seriake Dickson and Gov Ayodele Fayose.

Chief Gbenga Daniel is a former two-term Governor of Ogun State and the Director General of the Atiku Campaign Organization who was able to garner the delegates from the south west states, except Ekiti State delegates, to deliver block votes for Atiku at the primaries.

He is believed to be more suited for the job as he would be able to reduce the votes to and the dominance of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the south west states. He would also balance the influence of the current Vice President to President Buhari who is also from OgunState.

Gov Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State was the only governor that openly supported Atiku and mobilized support from fellow PDP governors, in direct opposition to people like Wike who publicly supported Tambuwal.

Governor Dickson’s unalloyed support for Atiku also contributed to Atiku’s recent victory as the presidential candidate of the PDP. Dickson has been a stabilizing factor in the Niger Delta and is widely accepted as a grassroots politician with strong ties with the Yoruba being that his grandmother is from Ogun State. His giant strides in various sectors in Bayelsa State continue to stand him in good stead as a purveyor of peace and development to the people in general. Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the renowned Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister of the Economy in President Goodluck Jonathan’s Government. She comes with immense experience and capacity together with a largely unblemished public service record.

Though not a politician, her candidacy should put presidential hopefuls from the south east states at ease as she would not be competing with them to take over from Atiku at the end of his single term plan. She would also help to rein in sympathetic votes from Nigerian women across party lines and ethnic or tribal affiliations.

Gov Nyesom Wike is arguably the latter day leader of the PDP who has fought to steady the course of the party in the last turbulent years after the loss of the presidency to the APC. Though he did not support Atiku in the primaries, pundits say that his control of the party systems through his appointed Chairman- Chief Uche Secondus is very strong.

Gov Ayodele Fayose is the current Governor of Ekiti State who stepped down from the presidential primaries race ostensibly to support Tambuwal. Despite the fact that his candidate lost the governorship elections to the APC candidate, pundits say he still commands a lot of support in the south west states.

Fayose, though considered a rabble rouser by a cross section of the society for his many verbal engagements, should therefore help the PDP garner votes in the south west states as Vice Presidential Candidate to Atiku.

Last but not the least is Dr Peter Obi. He is the immediate past and very successful governor of Anambra State. Obi brings economic sagacity and an unblemished public service record to the table but may raise fears from other possible successors to Atiku at the end of the single term as being vice president would put him in pole position to take over.

Following the emergence of Atiku, goodwill messages have continued to pour in for the man who will contest for presidency with President Buhari next year.

Former president, Goodluck Jonathan, while reacting to Atiku’s victory at the primaries, described him as a man who has the capacity to take the country to greater heights.

Jonathan said,”I congratulate His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, Waziri Adamawa, and by the graceof God and the votes of Nigerians, the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Our party members have spoken and have nominated you as the candidate for the forthcoming Presidential elections. I am convinced that you have all it takes to take Nigeria to greater heights and transform her into a hub for prosperity and happiness.”

The Senate President while speaking on behalf of 11 other aspirants, at the venue of the convention, promised to support him. “You truly deserve this. On behalf of all of us, we congratulate you,” he told Atiku.

Reacting to Atiku’s victory, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara wrote on his official Twitter handle, “Congratulations to H.E. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar

[@atiku] on his emergence as the @ Official PDPNig presidential candidate.

“I am hopeful that come February 2019, PDP will lead Nigeria to the transformation that we so dearly desire as citizens of this great country.”

The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, while reacting said: “I join our teeming party faithful and supporters to congratulate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the incoming President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, by God’s grace, on his nomination as the standard-bearer of the PDP in the 2019 presidential election.  “This is a watershed and momentous occasion for the PDP and indeed the nation.

“More important in the race was the transparent, free, fair, credible, and peaceful process.

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