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From Abio­dun Alade, Vic­tor Edozie, Saawua Terzungwe and Bassey Wil­lie, Port Har­court

Last minute at­tempts to reach an agree­ment among pres­i­den­tial as­pi­rants of the Peo­ples Demo­cratic (PDP) for a con­sen­sus can­di­date did not work yes­ter­day in Port Har­court.

The fail­ure to agree on a con­sen­sus can­di­date re­sulted in the party go­ing into vot­ing to pick the can­di­date. But the vot­ing did not start as at 1.30am when the story was filed.

Over 3,600 del­e­gates across the coun­try were ac­cred­ited for the elec­tion yes­ter­day.

Twelve as­pi­rants com­peted for the PDP pres­i­den­tial ticket in the Rivers State cap­i­tal yes­ter­day.

The as­pi­rants in­clude former Vice Pres­i­dent Atiku Abubakar; Sokoto State gover­nor, Aminu Waziri Tam­buwal; Gombe State gover­nor, Ibrahim Dankwambo; Se­nate Pres­i­dent, Dr. Bukola Saraki; former gover­nor Sule Lamido of Ji­gawa State; former gover­nor Ahmed Makarfi of Kaduna State; and former Min­is­ter of Spe­cial Du­ties, Al­haji Kabiru Tan­imu Tu­raki.

Oth­ers are former Se­nate Pres­i­dent David Mark; former gover­nor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; former gover­nor of Sokoto State, At­tahiru Ba­farawa; former gover­nor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang; the founder of Baze Uni­ver­sity, Sen. Datti BabaAhmed and Mr. Stan­ley Osifo.

Daily Trust on Sun­day learnt that a meet­ing of the party’s stake­hold­ers and the as­pi­rants was held to en­cour­age some of the as­pi­rants to with­draw but with­out suc­cess.

Sources said ma­jor­ity of the votes would be cast for Tam­buwal, Atiku and Saraki.

Tam­buwal is be­lieved to have the sup­port of PDP gover­nors and a sec­tion of its lead­ers.

Del­e­gates to the con­ven­tion were said to have be­come the brides of the 12 as­pi­rants who wooed them with “bribes” to in­flu­ence their choice.

A chief­tain of the party, who pro­vided ac­com­mo­da­tion for some PDP del­e­gates in Port Har­court yes­ter­day, con­fided in our cor­re­spon­dent yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, that the del­e­gates were brought in by one of the pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls.

He said the as­pi­rant paid for their ac­com­mo­da­tion, feed­ing, trans­porta­tion and gen­eral wel­fare, just to se­cure their votes.

When asked to give spe­cific de­tails as to how much was given to each of the del­e­gates, the PDP stal­wart, who pleaded anonymity said, “They are re­ceiv­ing the pack­age based on their po­lit­i­cal an­tecedents.”

“But the cash is be­tween N200,000 and N500,000, depend­ing on the del­e­gate’s pedi­gree and re­la­tion­ship with the ac­tors,” he said.

Some del­e­gates who spoke with our cor­re­spon­dent, how­ever, de­nied be­ing in­flu­enced, in­sist­ing they were only on ground to vote in line with the pro­vi­sions of the con­sti­tu­tion of the PDP.

Con­ven­tion fails to com­mence on time

There was ten­sion in Port Har­court as the na­tional con­ven­tion started late. The con­ven­tion was orig­i­nally sup­posed to start by 10am, but due to what some party stal­warts called “in­trigues and horse-trad­ing,” it did not start even by 12:30am when this re­port was filed.

How­ever, the venue of the con­ven­tion was adorned with the PDP colours and the Out­side Broad­cast­ing Vans (OBV) al­ready po­si­tioned with video cam­eras for live broad­cast of the pro­gramme.

Our cor­re­spon­dent also saw a large turnout of del­e­gates from the 36 states of the fed­er­a­tion and the Fed­eral Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory (FCT).

There was also a no­tice­able pres­ence of security per­son­nel, in­clud­ing the Po­lice and Nige­ria Security and Civil De­fence Corps (NSCDC). Of­fi­cers of the Fed­eral Road Safety Corps (FRSC) were also on ground to con­trol move­ment.

Time for Buhari to go home Se­con­dus

In his ad­dress to the del­e­gates and as­pi­rants, the na­tional chair­man of the PDP, Prince Uche Se­con­dus, said the party would re­tire Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari back home dur­ing the 2019 elec­tions.

Speak­ing dur­ing the open­ing of the spe­cial con­ven­tion of the party to elect the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date of the party, Se­con­dus noted that the APC used pro­pa­ganda to win elec­tion in 2015, but for­got that pro­pa­ganda can­not guar­an­tee good gov­ern­ment.

He said: “The PDP will take over the realm of gov­er­nance in 2019 and re­store Nige­ria to the path of progress and jus­tice; 2019 is a time for Buhari to go home.’’

He said that the APC gov­ern­ment un­der Pres­i­dent Buhari had shown that they were un­able to solve Nige­ria’s prob­lems, mak­ing it im­per­a­tive for the PDP to re­turn.

Se­con­dus ex­plained that the PDP had ruled the coun­try suc­cess­fully for 16 years, from 1999 to 2015, but the APC is try­ing to thwart the good foun­da­tion laid by the PDP.

He promised the party’s re­solve to con­duct a free and trans­par­ent pres­i­den­tial pri­mary, where ev­ery as­pi­rant would join hands with the win­ner to wrest power from the APC in 2019.

Any as­pi­rant step­ping down must put it in writ­ing - Okowa

The gover­nor of Delta State and chair­man of the PDP Na­tional Con­ven­tion Plan­ning Com­mit­tee, Ifeanyi Okowa, ad­vised as­pi­rants who wanted to step down to put it in writ­ing and also an­nounce it pub­licly at the con­ven­tion ground. He made the dis­clo­sure be­fore the floor was opened for the as­pi­rants to ad­dress the del­e­gates.

“We made it very clear that any­body that wants to step down has to put it in writ­ing and make it pub­lic at the con­ven­tion ground,” he said.

He said that the bal­lot pa­pers to be used for the pri­mary elec­tion con­tained the names and pic­tures of all the as­pi­rants, adding that del­e­gates were ex­pected to thumbprint on their pre­ferred choice.

Okowa said the con­ven­tion was de­layed be­cause most of the del­e­gates ar­rived late be­cause con­gresses of the party to elect Na­tional Assem­bly can­di­dates in the states didn’t end un­til late on Fri­day.

“Peo­ple had to travel long dis­tances. Most of the del­e­gates, es­pe­cially from the North, are just ar­riv­ing now be­cause of the con­gresses which ended yes­ter­day (Fri­day),” he said.

PDP will take over power Jonathan

Former Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan, in his speech, said the de­fec­tion of the Se­nate Pres­i­dent, Speaker of the House of Reps and gover­nors to the PDP were signs that the party was go­ing to take over power in 2019.

“Twelve peo­ple just spoke to us, but one of them will be the next pres­i­dent of Nige­ria. I can say that they are em­i­nently qual­i­fied to lead this coun­try, but we are go­ing to se­lect one of them, the per­son that can bring Nige­ria to­gether. Let us have Nige­ria first and other things will fol­low.

“PDP is clearly the party to take over power. I have had dis­cus­sions with all the as­pi­rants and they all agreed that only one of them can emerge. I thank them for their com­mit­ment to sup­port whoso­ever emerges,” he said. Last minute cam­paign A former Vice Pres­i­dent Atiku Abubakar promised to lead Nige­ria into eco­nomic progress if elected as the party’s pres­i­den­tial flag- bearer and even­tu­ally dur­ing the gen­eral elec­tions.

Aminu Tam­buwal rolled out past of­fices he held, point­ing out that at 52 he has ex­pe­ri­ence as a leg­is­la­tor, start­ing from Mi­nor­ity Leader to Deputy Chief Whip and Speaker of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and as gover­nor of Sokoto State he has ex­ec­u­tive ex­pe­ri­ence.

For a former Min­is­ter of Spe­cial Du­ties, Tan­imu Tu­raki, the right choice needed to be made to sal­vage Nige­ria and Nige­ri­ans from hunger and di­vi­sion.

A former gover­nor of Sokoto State, At­tahiru Ba­farawa, told del­e­gates that he would repli­cate what he did for eight years as gover­nor for the coun­try.

Gombe State Gover­nor Ibrahim Dankwambo pointed out that when some other as­pi­rants ran from the PDP in 2015, he stayed and kept faith with the party, worked for the party, con­tested and won as gover­nor in the party. He said at 56, he is not too young to run and not too old to re­tire.

Sen­a­tor Datti Baba-Ahmed said he stood for security of lives and prop­erty be­cause he could not stand the mind­less killings un­der the cur­rent gov­ern­ment.

A former gover­nor of Plateau State, Sen­a­tor Jonah Jang, told del­e­gates that he would push for re­struc­tur­ing. Ac­cord­ing to him, Nige­ria would have a de­fin­i­tive re­struc­tur­ing and a laid down foun­da­tion for the youth to build a bet­ter Nige­ria.

Sen­a­tor Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former gover­nor of Kano State, said he would en­sure a gov­ern­ment that would em­brace ev­ery­body, Chris­tians and Mus­lims, a gov­ern­ment that would give recog­ni­tion to de­serv­ing party mem­bers. He pledged ad­e­quate re­forms to re­vive the econ­omy, po­lice and other security in­sti­tu­tions to en­sure the suc­cess of gov­ern­ment.

A former gover­nor of Ji­gawa State, Al­haji Sule Lamido, told del­e­gates to feel free and vote their con­science. “Your con­science is my con­science. Let’s do the right thing. If you don’t vote freely we will not do the na­tion good,” he said.

A former gover­nor of Kaduna State, Sen­a­tor Ahmed Makarfi, said he would ad­dress security chal­lenges. He de­scribed him­self as a man of many phases who cham­pi­oned the course of restor­ing the PDP to the part of great­ness.

A former Se­nate Pres­i­dent, David Mark, said he was gen­der sen­si­tive as the only as­pi­rant with a fe­male as cam­paign di­rec­tor-gen­eral. He pledged quick action to unite the coun­try on eth­nic, re­li­gious or po­lit­i­cal lines.

Se­nate Pres­i­dent Bukola Saraki said he would up­hold jus­tice and make the coun­try bet­ter. He urged del­e­gates not to vote on sen­ti­ments.

Photo: NCPC

Chair­man APC Na­tional Con­ven­tion Plan­ning Com­mit­tee 2018, Gov. Abi­ola Aji­mobi of Oyo State (2nd right); Gov. of Kogi State Yahaya Bello 93rd right); Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Nige­rian Port Au­thor­ity, Hadiza Bala Us­man (4th right) and oth­ers, inspect the con­ven­tion venue yes­ter­day, ahead of the event later in the night

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