2019: All Eyes on Buhari, Atiku Abubakar

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Now that the ruling All Progressives Congress and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party have formally announced their candidates for the next presidential election, the focus is now on both President Muhammdau Buhari and Atiku Abubakar as leading candidates even though there  are 24 others who are also in the race to Aso Rock

By Anayo Ezugwu  

In the party presidential primaries which were conducted on Saturday, October 6, Nigerians now have an ample of candidates to pick from. But counting on the weights of the parties and candidates, the focus appears to be between President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reports Buhari received 14.8 million votes from the APC members in a direct primary, announced early on Sunday morning by Kayode Fayemi, the governor-elect of Ekiti State, who was the chairman APC Presidential Primary Election Committee. Fayemi had also chaired the APC convention in Lagos, in 2014 that elected Buhari as the party’s candidate. The result was later affirmed by no fewer than 7,000 delegates from across the federation and the FCT through a yes vote.

On his part, Abubakar, a former Customs officer and a multi-billionaire businessman, defeated 11 other aspirants to win the PDP’s presidential ticket for the 2019 general elections at the convention which held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Saturday, October 6. In the result announced by Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta State and the chairman of the PDP Convention Committee, on Sunday morning, Atiku polled 1,532 with Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, his nearest challenger, polling 693 votes. The other results were given thus: Bukola Saraki, 317 votes; Jonah Jang, 19 votes; Datti Ahmed, 5 votes; David Mark, 35 votes; Tanimu Turaki, 65 votes; Sule Lamido, 96 votes; Attahiru Bafarawa, 48 votes; Ibrahim Dankwambo, 111 votes; Ahmed Makarfi, 74 votes and Rabiu Kwankwaso, 158 votes.

Abubakar, who was Nigeria’s vice president between 1999 and 2007, is now poised to square up against Buhari, the incumbent president. Both Buahari and Abubakar have started their campaign in earnest.

Reacting after being overwhelmingly endorsed by 14,842,072 members of the APC to contest for a second term, Buhari in his acceptance speech on Sunday, October 7, morning took a swipe at the PDP. He accused the PDP which had ruled the country for 16 years, until May 2015, of being profligate. He said: “Fellow Nigerians, think how much PDP governments earned between 1999 to 2015. Think what they did with it.

“Infrastructure down! Security down! 18 local governments of Nigeria under control of a hostile army of insurgents. Reserves depleted! Bankruptcy around the corner.

“​What did they do with your money?” Buhari asked in a tone indicative of fireworks to be expected in the weeks ahead for the electioneering campaign. The president thanked all eligible members of the party who stepped down their ambition to allow him emerge as the party’s sole aspirant and now its candidate. “I thank you all for your encouragement and support, and I will not disappoint the people of Nigeria,” he said.

Buhari assured Nigerians that the federal government will not stop its fight against corruption, rebuild the economy and develop infrastructure, and said that the APC was proud of its achievements on these areas.

He also said that his recent interactions with the international community had been very encouraging, adding that the international community was giving the Nigerian government the necessary support.

Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, who is the chairman APC National Presidential Convention Committee, described Buhari as the “antidote for all political locusts.”

“He is the insecticide for all political termites and the saviour of the oppressed and downtrodden, and the best president for the people.

“We are impressed by his exemplary honesty, sincerity and commitment to a greater Nigeria,” he said, adding that President Buhari had positively impacted on the lives of Nigerians in the last three and half years. He called on Nigerians to vote for him again in 2019 to enable him consolidate on his achievements and take the country to greater heights.

Adams Oshiomhole, the APC national chairman, formally presented Buhari to the convention as the party’s 2019 presidential candidate, amidst cheers from delegates and other party members.

“I hereby formally present President Muhammadu Buhari as the candidate of our party for the 2019 presidential election to everyone here and to Nigerians, and by the grace of God, victory shall be ours,” he said.

On his part, Abubakar who shared the podium with some of his rivals at the convention when he was declared winner of the presidential ticket, similarly took a swipe at the ruling administration, saying Nigerians were now aware of the capabilities of the APC. He accused the APC administration of mismanaging the nation’s economy of Nigeria and enjoined his party to be more committed to the country’s growth. Abubakar said: “Nigerians are now yearning for the PDP to return to power because they have been able to test the APC and they know the difference. We have been able to identify the challenges afflicting the people and we must proffer solutions to them.

“It is not only one man’s job and that is why we must work together to achieve our goal.”

He maintained that the PDP must not be intoxicated by power should it win the presidential election in 2019, the candidate said he had garnered experience after working as the vice-president to former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He said further: “I will not be standing where I am today if my former boss (Olusegun Obasanjo) had not made me the vice-president. All the experience I got then will impact on our government when we win. I give tribute to him (Obasanjo).”

Reacting, former President Goodluck Jonathan, while congratulating Abubakar on his emergence, described him as a man who had the capacity to take the country to greater heights. Jonathan, in a text message to the PDP presidential candidate said: “I congratulate His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, Waziri Adamawa, and by the grace of God and the votes of Nigerians, the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Our party members have spoken and have nominated you as the candidate for the forthcoming presidential election.

“I am convinced that you have all it takes to take Nigeria to greater heights and transform her into a hub for prosperity and happiness. Congratulations.”

Similarly, in his congratulatory message, Ike Ekweremadu, deputy Senate president, said the PDP presidential candidate is the next president of Nigeria. The senator, in a statement by Uche Anichukwu, his special adviser on Media, said: “I join our teeming party faithful and supporters to congratulate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the incoming President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, by God’s grace, on his nomination as the standard-bearer of the PDP in the 2019 presidential election. This is a watershed and a momentous occasion for the PDP and indeed the nation. More important in the race was the transparent, free, fair, credible, and peaceful process.”

Indeed, on his part, Saraki described the presidential primary that produced Atiku as the best since the inception of the PDP, adding that the former VP’s emergence was well deserved. Saraki, who came third in the exercise, promised that the former aspirants would work with Abubakar to ensure that the PDP won the 2019 election.

The party hierarchy led by Uche Seconndus, the PDP national chairman, gave a similar assurance. Secondus, however, called on the INEC to learn from the PDP convention, saying: “We invite INEC to lift from this template and know that elections can be conducted without intimidation and harassment. We will carry out the most civilised campaign in this country to reclaim power.”

Indeed, while reacting to Atiku’s victory as the PDP candidate, the SMBLF enjoined the INEC to take a cue from the party’s convention, saying the courts would not be filled with petitions and there won’t be post-election violence if elections were free, fair and credible.

On its part, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, in a statement on Sunday, October 7, by Yinka Odumakin for South-West; Bassey Henshaw, South-South; Chigozie Ogbu, South-East; and Isuwa Dogo, Middle Belt, reminded Abubakar about his commitment to the restructuring of the country. The forum said: “The election of Atiku from a keenly contested primary election in what is generally seen as a free and fair process is a breath of fresh air to the democratic project in Nigeria which appeared threatened by manipulation of processes in intra-party conduct and general elections.

“It is never too early to remind the presidential candidate of the clear commitment to the fundamental issue of restructuring he has made overtime and which the former chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the Party, Senator Makarfi confirmed as the party agenda.

“It is clear today that no amount of good governance can get Nigeria out of the woods without a proper structure that can restore Nigeria to productivity under federalism.”

That, has indeed, shown that both Buhari and Abubakar are, perhaps, the most important candidates in the next presidential election.

But there are other 24 others who have been elected as presidential flag bearers of their respective parties. Of all the candidates there are only two women in the race. They are Oby Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN and Eunice Atuejide of the National Interest Party.

For now, we have the likes of Donald Duke, a former governor of Cross River State, as candidate of the Social Democratic Party; Kingsley Moghalu – Young Progressive Party, YPP; Fela Durotoye, the Alliance for New Nigeria, ANN; and Omoyele Sowore, the African Action Congress, AAC; Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim – Alliance for People’s Trust, APT; John Ogbor – All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA; Edozie Madu, Independent Democrats, ID; Williams Awosola, Democratic People’s Congress, DPC; and Habu Aminchi, Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM.

Others are Tope Fasua of the Abundance Nigeria Renewal Party, ANRP; Eunice Atuejide – National Interest Party, NIP; Olusegun Mimiko, Zenith Labour Party, ZLP; Adesina Fagbenro-Byron – Kowa Party, KP; Chike Ukaegbu – Advanced Allied Party, AAP; and Hamza Al-Mustapha,  People’s Party of Nigeria, PPN.

The rest are Alistair Soyode, Yes Electorates Solidarity, YES; Obadiah Mailafia, African Democratic Congress, ADC; Ahmed Buhari, Sustainable National Party, SNP; Usman Ibrahim Alhaji – National Rescue Movement, NRM;  Eniola Ojajuni, Alliance for Democracy, AD; Yabagi Sani – Action Democratic Party, ADP; Moses Shipi – All Blending Party, ABP; Peter Nwangwu – We the People of Nigeria, WTPN.

– Oct. 8, 2018 @ 17:55 GMT |

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