2019: Anxiety as CUPP begins search for joint presidential candidate

CUPP is a coalition of 40 political parties, which signed a MoU to field a joint presidential candidate in 2019 to brighten the chance of the opposition…

Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja

There is heightened anxiety as the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) begins the process of selecting a joint candidate that would carry the flag of the coalition in the February 16, 2019 presidential election.

Already, there are fears that the CUPP may not effectively execute its plan to field a joint presidential candidate for the election.

The CUPP is a coalition of 40 political parties, which signed a MoU to field a joint presidential candidate in 2019 to brighten the chance of the opposition in defeating President Muhammadu Buhari in next year’s poll.

The MoU, which was signed on July 9, at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, by leaders of the political parties also indicated that the coalition will form a unity government if it wins the 2019 presidential poll.

The parties in the grand alliance are the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Action Democratic Party (ADP), All Grand Alliance Party (AGAP), Action Peoples Party (APP), Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD), Better Nigeria Progressive Party, Democratic Alternative (DA), Democratic Peoples Party (DPC), Grand Democratic Party of Nigeria (GDPN), Green Party of Nigeria (GPN), KOWA Party, Labour Party (LP), Mass Action Joint Alliance (MAJA), Masses Movement of Nigeria (MMN).

Others include: National Conscience Party (NCP), New Generation Party (NGP), National Unity Party (NUP), Nigeria Intervention Movement (NIM), Peoples Alliance for National Development and Liberty (PANDEL), Peoples Progressive Party (PPP), People for Democratic Change (PDC), Providence People’s Congress (PPC),
The Reformed All Progressive Congress (RAPC), a breakaway faction of the ruling All Progressives Congress Congress, Restoration Party of Nigeria (RPN), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), All Grassroots Alliance (AGA), National Interest Party (NIP), Nigeria Democratic Congress Party (NDCP), Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), and Young Democratic Party (YDP).

Unlike what obtained during the 1999 general elections, where the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and the All Peoples Party (APP) had a coalition; parties in the CUPP are yet to agree on a consensus candidate one week after the commencement of campaigns for the 2019 presidential election with some of them fielding their own presidential candidates.

In the 1999 general elections, which had former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Olu Falae as the AD/APP joint presidential candidate, the coalition had sorted out all issues relating to who will be their presidential candidate in good time.

That way only the APP, which was the vehicle for the coalition was on the ballot, thereby simplifying the voting process for their supporters.

But Sunday Sun gathered that the plan was for all members of the CUPP, who are interested in fielding candidates for the 2019 presidential contest to hold their respective primary to select the standard bearer, after which a joint presidential candidate for the coalition will be selected from among the candidates that emerged from the respective political parties’ primaries.

Inside sources told Sunday Sun that the whole process would be completed before the expiration of the time stipulated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the submission of list of candidates who are contesting for the 2019 presidential.

However, at the expiration of the November 17 deadline set by the electoral body for substitution and possible withdrawal of presidential and National Assembly candidates, it emerged that at least 18 out of the 40 political parties in the CUPP have fielded candidates for next year’s presidential poll.

Some of the presidential candidates in the various parties in the CUPP accord include: Atiku Abubakar, PDP; Donald Duke, SDP; Obadiah Mailafia, ADC; Habib Mohammed Gajo,YDP; Davidson Isibor Akhimien, GDPN; and Hamisu Santuraki, MPN.

Others are Mercy Adesanya-Davies, MAJA; Yunusa Tanko, NCP; Samuel Eke, GPN; Eunice Atuejide, NIP; Yabagi Yusuf Sani, ADP; Usman Muhammed, LP; Frank Ukonga, DA; Obinna Ikeagwuonu, APP; Isah Bashayi, MMN; Umenwa Godwin, AGAP and Peter Ameh, PPA.

Analysts say the inability of the CUPP to come up with its joint presidential candidate by now has raised serious doubt on the possibility of the coalition going to the presidential poll as a united front.

Regardless, the CUPP spokesman, who is also the National Chairman, Action Peoples Party (APP), Ugochinyere Ikenga, told Sunday Sun that there is no cause for alarm, noting that members of the coalition are committed to presenting a united front in next year’s presidential election.

Ikenga said that the CUPP Steering Committee, which is headed by former Osun State governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, had on Wednesday last week circulated the guidelines for the selection of a joint presidential candidate.

He stated that the various political parties in the coalition are studying the guideline and added that very soon the whole process will be completed.

“There is no problem. The central committee of the CUPP gave out the guideline for the selection of the consensus presidential candidate that was shared on Wednesday. In fact, there will be developments from tomorrow (Friday). Everything is going according to plan. We are not working with timetable. I will explain to you why we decided to go with the method we are going. Everything is working well,” the CUPP spokesman claimed.

Similarly, the National Chairman of the ADC, Chief Ralph Okey Nwosu, told Sunday Sun that the process of selecting the CUPP joint presidential candidate is on.

According to him, a debate has been scheduled for all the candidates that emerged from the respective parties, so as to enable the coalition decide who among them is more suitable and more acceptable to Nigerians to be the joint candidate. Nwosu said: “I am aware that the CUPP is organising a debate very soon for all the CUPP candidates.

We are in the process of selecting one person and we want that one person to be somebody that millions of voters across country will accept. We also want to seek their (voters’) opinion, by the time the CUPP is able to pick one candidate and the enlightenment is done, the voters will be able to support us. The Nigerian voters have become more enlightened, they will be able to discern what is best for the country.”

The assurances by the leaders of the CUPP on the their resolve to field a joint presidential candidate notwithstanding analysts say the inability of the coalition to have come up with their joint candidate before now may be a big drawback.

This is because with the period of substitution and possible withdrawal of candidates over, INEC may have started preparing the ballot papers for the 2019 presidential poll, in which all the candidates contesting the election, will be listed.

This means as much as 18 political parties in the CUPP will have their candidates on the ballot paper. Analysts argue that the implication is that even if before the election the coalition adopts a candidate, it may not yield the desired fruit as the candidates, who are already on the ballot will still garner some votes that if pooled together might make a difference in the election.

However, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan told Sunday Sun that the coalition is not lagging behind in tidying up the issue of the candidate it will back for in the 2019 polls. Ologbondiyan noted that leaders of the various political parties in the coalition are still talking among themselves on the issue of who will be the CUPP joint presidential candidate.

According to him, “nothing is foreclosed as we speak. Discussions are still ongoing. Our leaders in the various parties are still talking. And mind you until we get to the election, you cannot say that these are the people that are contesting. That is looking at it politically.

“I don’t think that the time for withdrawal of candidates is over. You can say that the time for substitution is over. Except in the case of death or resignation. I think we still have enough time. But what I want to assure you is the fact that we are talking with members of the CUPP. And we have not foreclosed any of our agreement.”

ADC chairman, Nwosu concurred as he said: “It was not stated in the MoU that they (presidential aspirants) must withdraw. They are candidates. All of them are candidates. This is an agreement to ensure we can rescue Nigerian. We can rescue our nation from APC.

“It is a process. And the fact that the ADC has a presidential candidate, it is still pulling voters from the different areas where the PDP candidate wouldn’t have been able to pull voters.

“The PDP candidate is pulling voters from areas where possibly my candidate will not be able to pull voters. The same thing for other candidates on the CUPP parties. It is important that they pull all these voters in. All the voters that have been pulled in will support the joint candidate.

“If we have stopped (chosen a joint candidate) a month ago, pulling the voters from the various areas would not have been possible. The only thing that will backfire is if the CUPP does not carry along the voters.”

The National Chairman of the PPA, Peter Ameh also told Sunday Sun that the apparent delay by the CUPP in coming up with a consensus presidential candidate is actually a strategy.

Like the other leaders of the coalition, he said the process of selecting a joint presidential candidate is on and would be completed very soon.

“There are different strategies that we have put in place as a buffer. That does not mean we are not going to rally around one candidate. The selection process has started. The consensus selection committee has started having their meetings. Soon, this thing will be wrapped off. And you will get to hear from us at a very big national occasion, that will unveil the one candidate that we are going to support. We are going to rally around one candidate. Strategies for politics are not dealt with on the pages of newspapers,” he explained.

Ameh, who is also the chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) ruled out the possibility of any confusion arising among CUPP supporters, in the event that all the presidential candidates from parties in the coalition are listed on the ballot paper.

According to him, “there will be nothing confusing. We will direct the voters where to go and what to do. There are reasons behind that. As electioneering starts, you will understand the reason these things are done and why it’s done like this for the progress of our coalition. CUPP is one the move. CUPP is consolidating and we are doing a lot of things behind closed doors. The public will not be disappointed with our plans.”

The post 2019: Anxiety as CUPP begins search for joint presidential candidate appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

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