11th December, 2014
Kazeem Ugbodaga, Henry Ojelu & Yisa Jamiu
There are strong indications that former Head of State, Major General Muhammadu Buhari is coasting home to victory in the All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential primary taking place at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, western Nigeria, on Thursday.
At the time of this report (2:00 p.m. Thursday) Buhari was leading four other aspirants by a wide margin as most of the votes being sorted out before the final counting were in his favour.
If Buhari eventually wins the APC ticket, he will square up with President Goodluck Jonathan, who clinched the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP’s ticket, in next year’s presidential election.
At press time, Governor of Kano State, Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, and Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha and founder of Leadership newspapers, Sam Nda-Isaiah, in that order were still trailing Buhari during the sorting of the votes.
National Convention Committee Chairman, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who is the returning officer of the primary election, is expected to announce the winner later in the day.
At least 7,214 delegates were accredited to vote at the convention. 8,000 delegates were initially expected at the convention.
Earlier, accreditation of delegates did not start until in the evening of Wednesday and continued late into the night. The main programme started after the accreditation around midnight with a speech delivered by the National Convention Committee Chairman, Fayemi.
Fayemi announced that the primary was going to be by secret ballot, saying that after the delegated had completed their voting, it would be counted and the winner would be announced.
“And in order to ensure free and fair election, we have provided transparent boxes. And the delegates are statutory and elected political delegates. And we have provided banners stating where delegates from each of the state should sit and they would be called in alphabetical order.
“It is a simple process and before the election, the aspirants will have the opportunity of wooing the delegates. This, we believe could assist any delegate to make their clear choice. The delegates were chosen from the state congresses and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja held earlier in the year.
“We also have statutory delegates; these were people who qualified as delegates based on the post they held in the past and present. And these, added to those who were elected to represent the 774 local governments,” Fayemi stated.
The five presidential aspirants were allowed to address the delegates before the commencdement of voting around 2.00am.
Speaking earlier, Buhari urged the delegates to remember that history, change and the hopes of Nigeria were there with them and that the delegates should vote according to their conscience.
“We seek a new Nigeria. It starts with us. It starts today. I have placed myself before you seeking your help to nominate me as your standard bearer for our progressive party, APC. Personal ambition does not drive me in this regard. I seek to be the next president of our beloved nation because I believe I have something to offer Nigeria at this time of multiple crises.
“Insecurity, corruption, and economic collapse have brought the nation low. Time is past due that we work together to lift Nigeria up. I am ready to lead Nigeria to its rightful future. I have always served Nigeria to the best of my ability. I have always tried to give more to the nation than it has given me.
“This is the principle of service that has guided my public life. Thus, I am not a rich person. I cannot give you a bucket of dollars or naira to purchase your support. Even if I could, I would not do so. The fate of this nation is not up for sale,” Buhari said.
He said what he would give the nation was all his strength, commitment, sweat and toil in the service of the people, adding, “what I can give you is my all. I do not intend to rule Nigeria. I want to democratically rescue it with your help. I seek a Nigeria where Christians and Muslims may practice their faith in peace and security.
“I seek a Nigeria that is just and where corruption no longer trespasses into our institutions and national behaviour. And I also seek a Nigeria where our diversity could be used for our national prosperity. Nigeria is our home. Let us now turn it into the great nation we know it can and should be.”
Speaking, Abubakar said Nigerians wanted change because they were fed up with paying for electricity and getting darkness which was also destroying the nation’s industries and contributing to unemployment and crime.
He said Nigerians were tired of the dangerous PDP mathematics that is destroying “our democracy, the mathematics where 16 is greater than 19 and seven is greater than 19. I’m of course referring to the Nigerian Governors Forum and recent events in Ekiti State respectively.
“Nigerians are tired of the abuse of power, lawlessness and impunity of the PDP government; the type of impunity that sees a court sacked and judges beaten up by thugs under the direction of a party to a litigation, a governor-elect.”
Earlier, while unveiling the party’s manifesto, National Chairman, APC, John Oyegun described the event as historic in view of the fact that a presidential candidate that will liberate the nation from the mismanagement of the PDP would be selected.
“APC is ready to provide leadership for a new Nigeria. Change is imminent. We have five people that can lead this nation, anyone of them can do it and with the five of them together, they will be unbeatable. They are all winners because they have agreed to support whosoever emerged winner today.
“The imperative of this excersie is to rescue Nigeria and this demands that all our hands should be on deck. I appeal to you delegates to proceed for the exercise and do so with all sense of responsibility. Vote according to your conscience,” he said.
Unveiling the manifesto, Oyegun said it had six cardinal points, which were national security, good governance, human capital development, economic development, land and natural resources and foreign policy.
APC National leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu said one person would certainly be chosen.
He noted that APC was set to liberate the nation from its current quargmire, addin that change is beckoning.
Tinubu stated that APC is the party to bring about a change in the nation in the midst of crises, urging that the primary be conducted in the spirit of openness, fairplay and transparency.
“APC is the party that will bring care to this nation, Nigerians may be in despair, but we promise them help. Nigeria will change for the better and the economic doom Nigeria is facing will be wiped away by the cure the APC will bring,” he said.
Chief Ogbonanya Onu, Chairman, Presidential Screening Committee lamented that for 16 years, one party had been governing the nation, saying that the PDP had plunged the nation into the abyss, with Nigerians suffering tremendously.
He stressed that the time for a change had come, while calling on Nigerians to make the right choice.
Onu said Nigerians must give the APC the chance to govern if the nation must be changed and transformed, saying that the change in power was possible because this was the first time the APC is controlling 14 states in the nation, but that with the support of the populace, the victory would be won.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal opined that the APC made history when several parties came together under one umbrella to form the party because of the yearning to usher in a change in the country.
He said the APC was presenting to Nigeria the most credible alternative; better than what “we have in Nigeria today. We call on Nigerians to come together and support the presidential candidate of the APC and vote out the incompetent administration we have in Abuja.
“Today, Boko Haram has taken over Nigeria and this is regrettable. APC will arrest this situation when we come into office. The aspirants should be ready to accept the outcome of this exercise and join the winner to move the nation forward. You have to support the APC candidate in the coming election.”