Former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, recorded 1,532 delegate votes to secure a landslide victory at the National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The figure was an impressive 49 per cent of the total 3, 274 accredited delegates while the other 11 contestants shared 51 per cent.
Atiku was closely followed by Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, President of the Senate, Bukola and Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo who polled 693, 317, 158 and 111 respectively.
Other contestants were Sule Lamido, 96, Ahmed Makarfi, 74, Kabiru Turaki, 65, Attahiru Bafarawa, 48, David Mark, 35, Jonah Jang, 19 and Datti Ahmed, five votes while 68 votes were voided.
With the feat, he secured another opportunity to square up with old political foe and incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), whose nomination was also affirmed at the party convention held in Abuja on Saturday.
Atiku ran against Buhari in the APC primary elections in 2015 and came third behind former governor Rabiu Kwankwaso.
In the 2007 presidential election won by the late Umar Yar’Adua of the PDP, Atiku ran on the ticket of the defunct Action Congress (AC) while Buhari flew the flag of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP).
Political analysts have already dubbed the emergence of the two formidable candidates as standard bearers of the two mega parties as battle of political Titans.
Meanwhile, Saraki, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Governors Ifeanyi Okowa and Seriake Dickson of Delta and Bayelsa respectively, former governor Peter Obi, chairman, Northern Elders Council (NEC) and Tanko Yakasai have congratulated Atiku on his victory.
In a statement by his media aide, Saraki congratulated Atiku and all the aspirants for running credible and mature campaigns.
“Like I said in my speech at the convention after the official declaration of Alhaji Atiku as winner, all the other aspirants, especially myself, are ready to walk and work with him to spread the positive message of the PDP and his campaigns across the nooks and crannies of the country such that the PDP will win the 2019 general elections.
“Those who expect that the party will degenerate into crisis after the primaries have miscalculated. We will all work for the Atiku-PDP ticket to succeed and contribute ideas into solving the problems confronting Nigeria today.”
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Reacting to the outcome of the convention, Ekweremadu, in a statement described emergence of Atiku as watershed and a momentous occasion for the PDP.
“More important in the race was the transparent, free, fair, credible, and peaceful process. I commend the party leadership and the Convention Planning Committee for giving us one of the best primary elections in Nigeria’s history.
“Our party has, by this, demonstrated the full revival of internal democracy and total rebranding for the best democratic ethos. I commend the aspirants for the maturity, decorum, friendship, and mutual respect that characterised the jostle for the presidential ticket. I urge them and the party faithful to continue to work together for the party’s victory in the 2019 general elections.”
He said the mission to rescue Nigeria towers above individual interest is one that the party cannot afford to fail Nigerians.
Governor Okowa in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Charles Aniagwu in Asaba, expressed optimism that having won the party’s ticket, the former vice president would leverage on his track record as an entrepreneur and great employer of labour to grow the nation’s economy.
Okowa further applauded other aspirants who took part in the keenly contested primary, and urged them to uphold the values and philosophy of the PDP by coming together to support Atiku in the forthcoming general election, in a bid to ensure the PDP wins the presidency.
He noted that the PDP values internal democracy, describing the success of the primary election as another testament to the PDP’s democratic credentials.
He also assured members of the party and Nigerians that the party would not rest until they return the country to the part of good governance, rule of law as well as security of lives and property.
Dickson also hailed Atiku, who he said has the requisite experience and knowledge to tackle the challenges bedevilling the country.
“Let me congratulate the former vice president and now the presidential candidate of our great party for the next presidential election over his resounding victory in a free, fair, transparent and credible primary election.The delegates have spoken and they have elected a man who understands our country, the Niger Delta and a man who has the requisite experience. He can build bridges of understanding and unity and form a great team to address the challenges that are facing our country. We look forward to working, collaborating and supporting him in that onerous responsibility. As he rightly said, it is not a job left for him alone.”
Meanwhile, Yakasai has reminded the presidential candidate of the PDP to ensure he carried everybody along irrespective of victory and defeat at the just concluded primary election towards achieving success at the forthcoming general elections, as he promised.
Yakassai said the best time for all members of the PDP to unite is now in order to form government at the national level.
The Northern leader, who described Atiku as his son, further advised him not to be carried away by victory at the primaries that may slow him down from working hard for the presidency.
“It is natural that a winner must emerge in every election, Atiku is my son, so I wish to advise him that he should not forget to carry every contestant and all members of the party along irrespective of victory and defeat at the primary election because it is a promise he made.
“All of them should come together and be united as they have agreed before the election to work hard for the interest of the nation and the party they belong.
“They must realise that bigger victory is ahead of them, and so they should form a formidable front to clinch victory at the presidency come 2019.”
Former governor Obi described the victory of Atiku as a consummation of the wishes and desires of most Nigerians, both high and low.
Obi emphasised that what the PDP delegates did in Port Harcourt was a mirror of what Nigerians wanted – free and transparent election. Obi said that because all the candidates were eminently qualified, with each coming with his support base, the victory of Atiku showed that he was widely accepted. He commended other contestants for putting up brave contest and conducting themselves in a way befitting true leaders in name and in fact. Describing Nigeria as a nation that has tripped off the paths of development due to what he called cumulative leadership failure, Obi said going by Atiku’s wealth of experience, track record of wealth-creation, knack for identifying excellence among excellent people, detribalized nature and perfect understanding of the ills of the country, he Atiku has all it takes to restore the glory of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the PDP has charged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and APC to learn from its presidential primary, how elections ought to be conducted in the country.
The PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan said the peaceful and transparent conduct of its presidential nomination is a lesson to INEC and the ruling party.
The opposition party noted that the emergence of Atiku without any form of rancour showed that Nigerians wants credible electoral process.
“The process has shown that the electoral umpire, in its manifest compromises, has been responsible for the electoral crises at various levels of elections. It also shows that our citizens, irrespective of their individual and group interests, are capable of holding peaceful and credible elections that meet global standards.