AS CONSENSUS FAILS: DELEGATES ELECT PDP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
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.
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