The 2019 Presidential race is now set to begin in earnest as heavy weight candidates have been thrown up by the political parties in a contest that will unarguable be fierce with each candidate already beating their chests and sounding optimistic of winning the coveted presidential crown and occupy Nigeria’s political power pinnacle.
In the Early hours of Sunday, October 7 at the Eagle Square in Abuja, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in a special convention for the party’s primaries, simply affirmed President Muhammadu Buhari as its flag bearer in the race. The Returning Officer in the presidential primaries, Kayode Fayemi said Buhari polled 14, 842, 072 million votes.
According to him, “that gives you a pointer to what we are going to have in the 2019 elections. This is the registered votes of the registered members of our party. We are not talking about other Nigerians who will vote for the president in the general elections”, he said.
Shortly after he was declared as the APC candidate, President Buhari gave assurance to members of the party and Nigerians that he will not disappoint them if he is re-elected as President in 2019.
“I thank you deeply for your support and confidence in me. I will not let you or the people of Nigeria down. “Fellow party members, it is with a deep sense of humility that I stand before you today to accept the nomination of our party, the APC to be its candidate and flag-bearer in the 2019 presidential elections.
“As I stand today before you, there is no honour greater than the confidence given to me by all of you when you affirmed my nomination. “I accept this honour as a tribute and mark of confidence to carry the responsibility as we all join hands to continue the good work of the APC government to 2023 and beyond,” he said.
On the same Sunday morning, the main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in keenly contested presidential primaries during the party’s convention held at the Adokie Amasiemeka Stadium Port Harcourt,elected former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as its Presidential Candidate.
Atiku polled a total of 1,532 votes to beat his closest rival, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto who polled total votes of 693 votes, Senate President, Bukola Saraki who came third with 317 votes and former governor of Kano state Rabiu Kwankwaso, who garnered a total of 158 votes to finish fourth. Gombe state governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo secured 111 votes while former Jigawa state governor, Sule Lamido polled 96 votes. Former Kaduna state governor, Ahmed Makarfi had 74 votes while Tanimu Turaki, ex-Minister of Special Duties garnered 65 votes. Attahiru Bafarawa, David Mark and Datti Baba-Ahmed finished last after they got48, 35 and 5 votes respectively. 68 votes were void.
Atiku in his acceptance speech lauded the delegates and the leadership for choosing him promisingto work with the 11 other aspirants to work for the victory of the party in 2019.
“Today, we are witnessing a landmark event because the rebranding of the PDP and the return of democratic governance in this country, we are witnessing the most credible, transparent and fairest primaries.
“I am prepared to listen to you, to take your advice so that together we can be part of the success. “I believe we have learnt our lessons and we shall continue to improve on this,” he said.
Atiku said further the PDP “cannot afford to fail Nigerians who having seen the failure of the All Progressives Congress, APC, are now prepared to return the PDP back to power. “It is not just enough to say APC has failed but the PDP must be able to offer solutions to the challenges affecting this nation. That is the only way to take over power from this clueless government. ”
On Saturday October 6 at the Old Parade Ground in Abuja, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) also elected former Governor of Cross River state, Donald Duke as its flag bearer during a special convention. Out of 1,726 valid delegates of the party across the nation and the FCT, Duke clinched the SDP ticket by polling a total of 812 votes to beat former Minister of Information and National Orientation, Professor Jerry Gana, who got total of 612.
Niger Delta activist, John Dara, came third with 104 votes. Erudite scholar Iyorwuese Hagher, came fourth having secured 72 votes, while Delta state- born clergy man Felix Osakwe got 10 votes to come behind.
Duke had in a remark said that he will work to redeem Nigeria from the shackles of poor leadership and initiate policies that will transform the nation and put it on a path of progress, justice and sustainable development.
Addressing party faithful before the commencement of the primary, National Chairman of the SDP, Olu Falae, urged politicians to focus on the welfare of the masses and stop the disgraceful spread of political monetisation in our country.
He lamented that Nigerians had helplessly watched their leaders degenerate in recent years with widespread neglect of the interest of the masses. He regretted the ineffective and incompetent leadership, in the country, stressing that it had resulted to what he called “social and food insecurity, lawlessness, impunity, insurgency, widespread corruption, nepotism and poverty.”
In September, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Moghalu emerged presidential candidate of Young Progressives Party (YPP) during the party’s national convention held in Abuja.
The 55-year-old public intellectual and a former officer of the United Nations was unanimously voted by delegates from all the states of the federation through the Option A4 voting system adopted by the party for its presidential primary, which was monitored by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Moghalu, who polled 243 votes out of 253 accredited delegates, stressed that Nigeria desperately needs a leader of international repute, not politicians that had failed the country. He said “more than ever before, Nigeria needs to be driven by a vision, informed by a worldview that determines everything else.
“Up till about 40 years ago, China was viewed as a basket case; overpopulated, unproductive and ruined economically by policies of the decades prior to that.
“Today, they snap their fingers and nearly every single African Head of state shows up in China with their hands out, eager for Chinese largesse. That’s what a country driven by a worldview can achieve.
“In accepting the presidential ticket of this great party, I stand here before you to say that Nigeria is fully capable of achieving greatness at home and abroad in our lifetimes. But this cannot happen with the normal way of doing things, the so-called Nigerian way.”
He solicited support from all Nigerians irrespective of their ethnic or religious background adding that he has developed the right vision, character and competence to lead Nigeria out of economic backwardness and political instability.
Former Vice President of World Bank and Co-founder of Bring Back Our Girls, BBOG, movement, Oby Ezekwesili, on Sunday October 7, won the presidential ticket ofAllied Congress Party of Nigeria, (ACPN) during that party’s the national convention in Abuja.
In her acceptance speech, Ezekwesili regretted that Nigeria under the President Muhammadu Buhari Government remains in “unsustainable failure” adding that 2019 is a defining moment which provides opportunity to unite and galvanise the potentials of the Nigerians to build a great nation.”
The former education minister said her campaign slogan “Project Rescue Nigeria” was apt for the moment even as she lamented that it was a great tragedy that Nigeria instead of making progress is rather derailing and moving towards total economic collapse.
She promised to offer equal opportunities to all Nigerians irrespective of tribe, gender or belief saying “Enough is now enough; we have decided that Nigeria will no longer accept a leadership of mediocres, which has kept it down and allowed wanton and senseless waste of innocent lives.
“I bring a message of hope to you that I and millions of supporters will march in solidarity to ensure that Nigeria gets a new and focused leadership in 2019.”
Also on Sunday, the National Chairman of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Yabagi Sani, was elected as the presidential flag bearer of the party during its national convention in Abuja on Sunday. The trained Engineer was affirmed as the party’s candidate after over 5 million delegate votes adopted him as the candidate.
In his acceptance speech, Yabagi said the condition of the country is terrible such that only a proactive and visionary leader can change the fortunes of the country for the better. He promised that the ADP is the credible alternative. “My vision is to transform the economy through massive investment in agriculture, industry, manufacturing, and food processing by the establishment of cottage industries across the 774 local governments in the country to provide jobs for the unemployed. This is the only way the country can change and the issue of insecurity ravaging parts of country can be easily curtailed,” he said.
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) conducted their Presidential primaries on Sunday October 7 Abuja and elected John Gbor, a retired Major General in the Nigerian Army as its flag bearer, by a unanimous decision in the exercise conducted by the chairman of the National Planning committee Joe Anyinka.
In his acceptance speech, Gbor said “my government will be committed to a strong, united and prosperous Nigeria where no one and no place is left behind. He said that Nigeria urgently needs restructuring to enable the constituent units explore its full potentials instead of the current system that breeds indolence, greed and laziness.
Now the stage is set for contestation of votes ahead of the electionpossibly on the fundamental issued troubling the nation. Alliances are also looming as some of the parties that do not have wide reach and with less formidable opponents are already poised for the alliance.
Innocent Odoh, Abuja