Voting at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential primary was delayed after last-ditch attempts to reach an agreement among presidential aspirants of the for a consensus candidate did not work.
Over 3,600 delegates across the country were accredited for the election yesterday, with thirteen aspirants jostling for the PDP presidential ticket in the Rivers State capital.
The aspirants include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; Gombe State governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo; Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; former governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State; former governor Ahmed Makarfi of Kaduna State; and former Minister of Special Duties, Alhaji Kabiru Tanimu Turaki.
Others are former Senate President David Mark; former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa; former governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang; the founder of Baze University, Sen. Datti Baba-Ahmed and Mr. Stanley Osifo.
While it’s too early to call a clear favourite, sources said majority of the votes would be cast for Tambuwal, Atiku and Saraki.
In his address to the delegates and aspirants, the national chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said the party would retire President Muhammadu Buhari back home during the 2019 elections.
Secondus noted that the APC used propaganda to win election in 2015, but forgot that propaganda cannot guarantee good government.
He said: “The PDP will take over the realm of governance in 2019 and restore Nigeria to the path of progress and justice; 2019 is a time for Buhari to go home.’’
The governor of Delta State and chairman of the PDP National Convention Planning Committee, Ifeanyi Okowa, said the convention was delayed because most of the delegates arrived late following the belated congresses to elect National Assembly candidates in the states Friday.
“People had to travel long distances. Most of the delegates, especially from the North, are just arriving now because of the congresses which ended yesterday (Friday),” he said.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, in his speech, said the defection of the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Reps and governors to the PDP were signs that the party was going to take over power in 2019.
“Twelve people just spoke to us, but one of them will be the next president of Nigeria. I can say that they are eminently qualified to lead this country, but we are going to select one of them, the person that can bring Nigeria together. Let us have Nigeria first and other things will follow.
“PDP is clearly the party to take over power. I have had discussions with all the aspirants and they all agreed that only one of them can emerge. I thank them for their commitment to support whosoever emerges,” he said.
In last minute campaigns, Atiku Abubakar promised to lead Nigeria into economic progress if elected as the party’s presidential flag- bearer and eventually during the general elections.
Senate President Bukola Saraki said he would uphold justice and make the country better with a youth-driven government.
Aminu Tambuwal rolled out past offices he held, pointing out that at 52 he has experience as a legislator, starting from Minority Leader to Deputy Chief Whip and Speaker of the House of Representatives, and as governor of Sokoto State he has executive experience.
Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo pointed out that when some other aspirants ran from the PDP in 2015, he stayed and kept faith with the party, worked for the party, contested and won as governor in the party. He said at 56, he is not too young to run and not too old to retire.
Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former governor of Kano State, said he would ensure a government that would embrace everybody, Christians and Muslims. He also pledged adequate reforms to revive the economy, police and other security institutions to ensure the success of government.
A former governor of Kaduna State, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, said he would address security challenges. According to him, he is a man of many phases who championed the course of restoring the PDP to the part of greatness.
A former Senate President, David Mark, said he was gender sensitive pledged quick action to unite the country on ethnic, religious or political lines.