Gana Rejects Emergence of Duke as SDP’s Presidential Candidate

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Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

Trouble looms in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) as one of presidential candidates Prof. Jerry Gana wednesday protested against the candidacy of the former Cross River state governor, Mr. Donald Duke.

The Director General of Gana’s presidential campaign, Dr. Ike Neliaku, said they based their position on the grounds that the doctrine rotation enshrined in the SDP constitution did favour the candidacy of Duke. He said that the presidency was zoned to the North in accordance with the constitution of the party .

He said the party should declare Prof. Gana winner of the primary election while Duke who hails from the South should be disqualified as the party’s standard bearer.

Duke emerged victorious after scoring 812 votes to defeat four other aspirants.

Prof Jerry Gana polled 611 votes, John Dara- 104 votes, Amb. Iyorwuese Hagher 72 votes while Ambassador Felix Osakwe got 10 votes.

The Gana Campaign team maintained that “Duke did not meet the condition precedent for participating in the presidential primary of the party in the first place, saying the singular constitutional provision clearly disqualifies Duke from the contest.

He further stated: “Accordingly, our candidate, Prof Jerry Gana being the candidate from the North that scored the highest number of votes should be returned as the candidate of the party for the 2019 presidential election,”

The campaign organisation insisted that it had drawn the attention of the party leaders before, during and after the convention to the fact that the presidential ticket was zoned to the north.

He stated that the G19’s advice which was ignored was not a mere wishful thinking but a weighty constructional matter.

Quoting section 15.3 of the SDP Constitution, which dwells on rotation and zoning of offices, Neliaku argued that “since the National Chairman of the party Chief Olu Falae is from the South , it follows logically that in accordance with the tenets of our party, the letter and spirit of our Constitution; the contest for the presidential candidacy of the party ought to have been restricted to aspirants from the North.”

He further cited an interview granted to one of the national dailies by Falae where he stated that the “SDP will pick it’s presidential candidate from the northern part of the country.”

Neliaku said: “On the strength of the above constitutional provision of the party and the very assurances of our national chairman, the G19 team was influenced and encouraged to field a presidential candidate, in the person of Prof Jerry Gana.”

“It is important to state that the national chairman’s conclusive statement above on the issue of zoning partly compelled the distinguished Professor Femi Olufunmilade, Ph.D from the South to drop his earlier desire to contest for the presidency of Nigeria on the platform of the SDP.”

He urged the party leadership to do the needful by ensuring a firm, just fair and timely resolution of the matter in line with the provisions of the party’s constitution, with a view to reassuring Nigerians that the party is serious.