…As he unveils SDP Presidential Campaign Council
By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA – THE presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP,Prof. Jerry Gana,has hinted that he may opt for the former Cross River State governor and fellow contestant in the party’s presidential ticket,Mr Donald Duke,as his running mate in 2019 poll.
This came as he approved directors of his presidential campaign team for the election he boasted that he would humble both the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP which are parading incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar,respectively,as candidates.
The former Minister of Information and National Orientation, who said this while speaking to reporters on the sideline of unveiling of his presidential campaign programme, tagged:”Reworking Nigeria Together”, however said he may be constrained given that the South South geopolitical zone where Duke hails from has had its fair share of the position under former President Goodluck Jonathan in the present democratic dispensation.
“On January 5, we will be having a meeting with all the stakeholders across the nation, where they will take away the campaign programme and then thereby we will be everywhere.
“The party will definitely have a strategy for winning. I don’t mind at all having him as my running mate. But let us be very realistic. The South South has just completed the term of the presidency through president Goodluck Jonathan.
“If Nigerians are to be real they will know that it is too soon to have a presidential running mate from that zone. There are other zones that want to have the post. If we want to win the elections, the party will not do that except it wants to just play mere politics.
“I am not set out to do that. I want to win the election and take Nigerians with the programmes we have presented,” he said.
Recall that a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had nullified the candidature of Duke as the presidential candidate of SDP, following a petition written by Gana on the basis of article 5 of the party’s constitution, which states that the president and the party’s national chairman shall not come from the same zone.
Earlier, the politician unveiled his presidential programme codenamed SWIFT which according to him, represented (Security re-egineering; Wealth creation; Infrastructure excellence and Power supply; Technology, Education and Human Development).
Some members of the his campaign team include, a former Minister of Police Affairs, Humphrey Abah; former President, International Federation of Female Lawyers (FIDA), Barr Hauwa Shekarau amongst others.
Speaking earlier, Director General of G19, Dr. Ike Neliaku, noted that his boss, Gana, has not received a Court of Appeal notice filed by Duke; thereby urging the party supporters to intensify their campaigns in a bid for Prof. Gana to emerge victorious.
The occasion recorded partial defiance of Friday’s directive of the party’s national chairman,Chief Olu Falae that officials stayed away from the events since Gana,who was only thrown up as a candidate by the court has an appeal to contain with.
While the National Treasurer Mr Emeka Atuma and the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Alpha Mohammed, were in attendance at the occasion, others stayed away in obedience to the directive of Chief Falae.
Falae had on Friday,in a statement,urged party faithful to stay away from the events scheduled by Jerry Gana and his presidential campaign committee, arguing that violation of the directive may be viewed as contempt of the court which judgement had been appealed against at a higher court.
Recall that the SDP’s presidential election which took place on October 7, saw Mr Donald Duke, emerge as candidate having defeated Professor Gana with 812 votes against 611 votes.
But Gana,who had stormed out of the election venue minutes after the declaration of Duke in protest,later headed for the court where he asked that he be declared winner instead, given that the party violated its internal arrangements which prohibited both chairman and its presidential candidate from emerging from the same geopolitical zone.
In line with his prayers,a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, sacked Duke and declared Gana as candidate of the party on December 14.
Chief Falae said the party was at the Appeal Court to set the judgement aside but Gana’s campaign director,Dr Ike Neliaku,said he was yet to be served any appeal papers.