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Atiku Defeats Wike, Becomes PDP Presidential Candidate
*Former VP pledges to unite Nigeria
*EFCC operatives storm venue of primary, search delegates’ bags
*Tinubu congratulates Atiku, says former VP will be his opponent
Ejiofor Alike in Lagos and Chuks Okocha in Abuja
After weeks of dilly-dallying and horse-trading, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday ignored the clamour for the rotation of the 2023 presidency and elected former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as its presidential candidate for next year’s general election.
In his acceptance speech, Atiku pledged to unite Nigeria, describing his election as one of the freest in the history of the country.
Before the commencement of voting, one of the aspirants and Governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal had stepped down from the race and asked his supporters to vote for Atiku.
Tambuwal also congratulated the former vice president after he emerged victorious.
The National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC) and frontline presidential aspirant, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has congratulated Atiku on his victory and welcomed him to the presidential contest in the 2023 general election.
In the result of the primary election announced by the Chief Returning Officer and former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, Atiku polled 371 votes to defeat his main challenger and Governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyesom Wike, who scored 237 votes. Former President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki came a distant third with 70 votes, while Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Udom Emmanuel and his counterpart in Bauchi State, Senator Bala Mohammed scored 38 votes and 20 votes, respectively.
The delegates cast 763 votes; 12 votes were voided while the number of valid votes was 751.
A former Senate President, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim got 14 votes while Mr Sam Ohuabunwa and the only female aspirant, Terila Diana Oliver, got one vote each.
A former Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayo Fayose got zero, while the Publisher of Ovation, Mr Dele Momodu, also got zero votes.
Following the alleged inducement of delegates in the ongoing primaries being conducted by political parties, the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday stormed the venue of the PDP national convention in Abuja.
The officers who were in red jackets with the “EFCC” crested at the back, were seen in their numbers walking around and inside the venue.
Some of them were caught on camera searching the bags of some delegates.
Before the commencement of the voting, Tambuwal withdrew from the race and urged his supporters and delegates to vote for Atiku.
He said having consulted widely across the country, he decided to withdraw from the race for posterity.
Dr Nwachukwu Anakwenze and Mr Mohammed Hayatu-Deen also withdrew from the race.
While Hayatu-Deen withdrew on Friday, Anakwenze announced his withdrawal during his remarks at the venue of the convention yesterday.
Anakwenze, however, urged the delegates to vote for aspirants that can develop the country.
In his acceptance speech, Atiku pledged to unite the country, which he said, has been divided by the APC-led administration.
“Today, we are making another history which we believe will bring fundamental changes in the country, both by providing adequate security and fixing the economy,” he said.
He described the election as one of the freest and a milestone to bring about democratic changes in Nigeria.
Atiku sought the cooperation of his fellow contestants, promising to give them a sense of belonging in his administration.
He promised to deal decisively with insecurity and revive the economy.
Atiku also appealed to all aggrieved members of the party to return to the party, adding that the internal conflict resolutions would be reactivated to address and resolve all disputes.
The former vice president had in 1993, contested the Social Democratic Party presidential primary, losing to Moshood Abiola and Baba Gana Kingibe.
He was a presidential candidate of the Action Congress in the 2007 presidential election, coming third to Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of the PDP and Muhammadu Buhari of the ANPP.
He contested the presidential primary of the PDP during the 2011 presidential election losing out to incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.
In 2014, he joined the APC ahead of the 2015 presidential election and contested the presidential primary but lost to Muhammadu Buhari.
In 2017, he returned to the PDP and was the party’s presidential candidate during the 2019 presidential election, but lost again to incumbent President Buhari.
PDP Focused to Win 2023 General Elections, Says Ayu
In his remarks, the National Chairman of the party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, said the focus of the party is to win the 2023 general election.
Ayu said the victory of PDP in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) area council elections and other by-elections was a signal that Nigerians wanted PDP back to power in 2023.
“Our focus is on 2023, but we seek to retake both Osun and Ekiti states in July elections as our low-hanging fruits.
“The electoral triumphs from there will sustain our momentum, boost the morale of party members and amplify our notice to the overwhelmed All Progressives Congress (APC) that PDP is coming.
“With PDP, Nigeria shall rise again,” Ayu said.
He added that his leadership had worked to unite, rebrand and reposition the party, while also reviving the intellectual arm of the party, the Peoples Democratic Institute (PDI).
PDP Convention, Call to Salvage Nigeria, Says Mark
Speaking during the convention, a former President of the Senate and Chairman, of the 2022 PDP National Convention Organising Committee, Senator David Mark, described the convention as a call to salvage Nigeria and offer solutions to its present challenges.
Mark said the country is currently faced with challenges: including over three months strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), insecurity, unemployment and poverty.
He said that history beckoned on PDP to rescue the nation.
“Today’s convention is beyond the ordinary, it is a call to salvage Nigeria from the brinks. Nigeria has had chequered socio-economic and political problems but never has it descended so low.
“The 2023 election is not a contest between the PDP and other political parties, it will be a moment of historic decision of all Nigerians to right the wrongs at the moment and faith in the PDP as the vehicle to redeem the situation and give them a chance to live again.
“No wonder, our logo the umbrella, is a veritable shade and shield for Nigerians and Nigeria as an entity.
“It is therefore a call to patriotic national service, for all of us; delegates to make the wise decision which will ultimately save Nigeria,” he said.
Tinubu Congratulates Atiku, Says former VP will Be His Opponent
Meanwhile, the National Leader of APC and frontline presidential aspirant, Tinubu, has also congratulated Atiku for emerging as the flag bearer of the PDP.
Tinubu commended Atiku for his patriotism and commitment to Nigeria’s progress.
In a signed by the Director of Media and Communication of his campaign organisation, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, the former Governor of Lagos State also congratulated the other contestants for the orderly and peaceful way they conducted themselves and for pledging to rally round the winner, in the true spirit of democratic sportsmanship.
Tinubu said he expected Atiku to be his worthy opponent, by the Grace of God and the support of APC delegates, in the coming 2023 presidential election.
“I welcome the victory of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the just concluded primary. I look forward to squaring up with him as a worthy opponent in the coming election. I have known the former Vice President as a formidable politician and a patriot who believes in the unity and progress of our dear country,” Tinubu said.
Tinubu, however, added that the PDP and its candidate would be burdened to explain why Nigerians should give them another opportunity, after squandering 16 years at the central government, without much to show.
“Nigerians are yet to forget the national ruin and mismanagement of our country for 16 years by successive PDP administrations and this bad memory will dog the campaign of the PDP Candidate,” Tinubu added.