…As candidate thanks Obasanjo for providing him “political tutelage”
By Dirisu Yakubu
Port Harcourt- The Adokie Amasiemaka Stadium, Port Harcourt, was agog yesterday following the victory of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Presidential primaries which ended on Sunday. Atiku who polled a total of 1,532 votes, beat his closest rival, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto who polled a total votes of 693 votes, Senate President, Bukola Saraki who scored 317 votes and Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, who garnered a total of 158 votes to finish fourth on the log.
Atiku’s success in the keenly contested delegate election is down largely to hardwork and deep understanding of the intrigues of the game.
Ahead of the exercise, the former Vice President secured decent accommodation in choice motels in the heart of Port Harcourt metropolis, leaving his rivals to settle literally for what can pass for “left overs.”
Atiku, despite the support of some PDP governors for Tambuwal, won the support of majority of votes from non-PDP states and got a chunk of votes from states under the leadership of his party as well.
Gombe state governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo secured 111 votes while former Jigawa state governor, Sule Lamido polled 96 votes. Erstwhile Kaduna state governor, Ahmed Makarfi had 74 votes while Tanimu Turaki, ex-Minister of Special Duties garnered 65 votes.
The trio of Attahiru Bafarawa, Senator David Mark and Datti Baba-Ahmed finished last on the log after garnering a paltry 48, 35 and 5 votes respectively. 68 votes were void. A total of 3221 delegates participated in the exercise.
Shortly after the announcement of the result, host and the Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike left the Adokie Amasiemaka Stadium, venue of the exercise, in what may not be unconnected with the outcome of the election.
In his acceptance speech, an obviously elated Atiku thanked the delegates and the leadership of the party for the confidence reposed in him and promised to work with the 11 other aspirants to work for the victory of the party in 2019.
“Today, we are witnessing a landmark event because the rebranding of the PDP and the return of democratic governance in this country, we are witnessing the most credible, transparent and fairest primaries.
“I am prepared to listen to you, to take your advice so that together we can be part of the success.
“I believe we have learnt our lessons and we shall continue to improve on this,” he said even as he thanked Governor Wike and the government and people of Rivers for playing a good host to Nigerians while the convention lasted.
Atiku said the PDP “cannot afford to fail Nigerians who having seen the failure of the All Progressives Congress, APC, are now prepared to return the PDP back to power.
“It is not just enough to say APC has failed but the PDP must be able to offer solutions to the challenges affecting this nation. That is the only way to take over power from this clueless government.
” Let us not get intoxicated by power but we should build on the achievements recorded in the past few days,” he added.
On a personal note, Atiku thanked his former boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo whom he said provided him the political tutelage which has provided him with the requisite knowledge to deliver on the biggest stage.
Speaking on behalf of other aspirants, Senator Saraki thanked and congratulated members of the convention planning committee for coming out with what he called “the most credible primary election in the history of the nation.
He pledged the readiness of all the contestants to work with Atiku to bring victory to the PDP.
“We are you and we are confident that come May 29, 2019, the green, white, red colours of the party will be hoisted as we take over power in our country,” he added.
On his part, the PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to learn from the convention exercise, saying the party has shown that free, fair and credible elections are still possible.