…Tambuwal steps down for ex-VP
By John Alechenu, Abuja
After a fierce contest for the ticket of the Peoples Demo cratic Party (PDP), former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, last night, emerged as the presidential candidate of the main opposition party for the 2023 general elections.
Atiku polled 371 votes to beat his fellow contenders for the PDP ticket.His closest rival, Governor Nyeson Wike of Rivers State, scored 237 votes; Senator Bukola Saraki, 70; Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom State, 38; Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, 20; Senator Pius Anyim, 14; Mr Sam Ohuabunwa and Oliver Diana, one vote each.
There were 12 voided votes out of the total 767 ballots.With the victory, Atiku is set to go head-to-head with the winner of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential primary in the February 2023 election.Before the commencement of voting,yesterday, the Chairman of the Chairman, 2022 PDP National Convention Organising Committee, Sen. David Mark, announced that one of the aspirants had an announcement to make.
Party members and delegates waited with bated breadth as Sokoto State Governor Waziri Tambuwual approached the dais.Soon after he had mounted, he dropped the bombshell- he was withdrawing from the race.
He based his decision on wide consultations, noting that it was in the best interest of the PDP and the nation. Tambuwual urged his supporters to vote for Atiku.
The crowd of supporters went wild in jubilation. His decision altered earlier permutations that delegates from the North-West would vote for Atiku in block.Matter were further complicated by an announcement by the David Mark-led Electoral Committee banning the use of electronic devices such as phones around the voting area.
This did not go down well with an agent of one of the aspirants who protested openly.The Electoral Panel also announced that of the 774 delegates expected to participate in voting, only 767 were accredited and were the ones cleared to vote.
Wike, Atiku, Saraki in popularity contestEarlier, the leading PDP presidential aspirants had engaged in popularity contest at the venue of the Special National Convention.
Wike caused a stir when, on arrival, he led a team of his aides to the Oyo, Plateau, Ogun, Ondo, and Sokoto stands to greet delegates.They cheered and sang his praises with delegates from Rivers leading the chant of his name and singing a local song in his honour as he waved while clutching a traditional elephant tusk. He went on to greet delegates from other states in their stands.As if taking a queue from Wike, Atiku also moved from his seat and made his way to the delegates stand to pay homage .
He raised his hands in greeting while his supporters hailed. Not long after, Saraki joined the contest as he started his round of greetings from the VIP stand before making his way to the delegates stands.
The APC has brought nothing – Mark
In his address of welcome, the Chairman, 2022 Peoples Democratic Party National Convention Organising Committee, Sen. David Mark , expressed sadness that the All Progressives Congress-led administration has brought nothing but sorrow, tears and blood.
According to him, Nigeria is today in the grip of kidnappers and other miscreants because of the failure of the ruling party to provide leadership. This, he said, was the reason the PDP is seeking to return to rescue the nation and set it on the path of development.
Mark said, “This Congress is the first step towards this process. Today our students are at home for over three months on account of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike for failure of government to address issues affecting the education sector.“Fellow countrymen and women are today in captivity with kidnappers and our government has mortgaged the future of Nigerians by ceaseless borrowings with nothing tangible to show.
Nigeria is now the poverty capital of the world.“The intractable insecurity situation, raising unemployment, poverty, ineptitude and corruption and above all the poor management of our diversity have become the hallmark of the APC administration.
These have made living in Nigeria worthless.”After his address, National Chairman of the PDP, Sen. Iyiochia Ayu, gave a run down of activities carried out by the party under his watch.
He said Nigerians were looking up to the PDP to provide leadership because they were tired of the rudderless APC regime.Ayu said, “Nigerians have woken up from the anesthesia of false promises. They have seen the limit of propaganda. And they want a return to development which PDP represents.”After several other speeches, aspirants were given five minutes each to address delegates.In his address, Atiku appealed for unity among party members.
He also appealed to party leaders who felt slighted by recent events during the last state congresses to bury the hatchet in the over all interest of the party.While expressing gratitude to the party leaders for the orderly conduct of the convention, he said “ I hope the primary would be organized in a credible manner.
“Therefore distinguished delegates, I want to appear for unity in this party, no matter the discrimination, provocation and threats, it is only temporal.“ I am distressed that a number if our members are excluded from the process that that have taken place across the nation..I appeal to them to be patient and bear with the party. They say no condition is permanent.”Tambuwual, in his address, said Nigeria was at the cross roads and was in dire need of redemption.He said, “We are at a Crossroads. I decided to throw my hat in the ring after due consultations with the various strata of the Nigerian society.
I poses the qualities required to rescue Nigerians.” He later withdrew for the contest.Another aspirant, Dele Momodu, decried what he described as ‘dollar rain’ but said he was undaunted because of his passion for Nigeria.He said, “ Some have ran away because of the dollar rain but I’m still standing.”On his part, Saraki, said, “This is a defining moment for our country.
This is a moment that we must chose hope against hopelessness, we must chose peace and security over fear.“The destiny of over 200 million Nigerians is in your hands. The candidate you select today will mark the beginning.”Saraki said he was the man for the job because he ticked all the boxes of competence and capacity adding “enough talk, let’s fix Nigeria.”
EFCC operatives storm venue Amidst speculations of dollar rain by presidential aspirants, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) stormed the Velodrome of the MKO Abiola Stadium Abuja, venue of the convention, to monitor proceedings.Over a dozen officers were sighted moving around the delegates stands.
Delegates per state as announced by Gov Okowa
Akwa Ibom 31
Cross River 18
Total = 767 accredited to vote