Tuesday, December 16, 2014 12:01 pm
Oluokun Ayorinde & Kazeem Ugbodaga
General Muhammed Buhari (retired) defeats four other aspirants to win the All Progressives Congress presidential ticket. But will he be fourth time lucky in 2015, after contesting in 2003, 2007 and 2011? Here are the deciding factors
Last Wednesday and Thursday were days of decision for the two Nigeria leading political parties-the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC. In Lagos, the atmosphere was charged, all roads in the metropolis led to the Teslim Balogun Stadium. Thousands of Nigerians, from all States of the federation, thronged the stadium. Security was tight as combatant policemen, fully armed, were on ground to provide security. Anti-bomb experts ensured that people entering the stadium were thoroughly screened before being allowed in. Areas within the neigbourhood of the stadium were condoned off.
That was the 3rd National Convention and Presidential Primary of the All Progress Congress, APC, to choose its presidential candidate for next year’s presidential election. The venue was shifted to Lagos as the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is holding its Convention and Presidential Primary in Abuja simultaneously to endorse President Goodluck Jonathan. In a carnival like national convention held in Abuja, slightly less than 3,000 members of PDP virtually crowned President Goodluck Jonathan as its candidate in the 2015 general elections, in a process deliberately orchestrated to be a one-man duel for the party’s presidential ticket.
Buhari’s Emergence As Candidate of APC
About 8,000 delegates, both elected and statutory, drawn from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, gathered at the Teslim Balogun Stadium to choose from the five aspirants who were asking to be elected as the party’s candidate for a presidential election. The Presidential candidates are Major General Muhammed Buhari (Rtd), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President; Governor of Kano State, Rabi’u Kwankwaso; his Imo State counterpart, Rochas Okorocha and the founder of Leadership newspapers, Sam Nda-Isaiah. By the time the results were announced Thursday evening, Buhari won with 3,430 votes. While Atiku scored 954 votes, Kwankawaso got 974; Okorocha, 624 and Nda-Isaiah, 10. Buhari was announced winner.
As early as 9.00am on 10 December, 2014, delegates started arriving the venue of the convention while verification of delegates did not begin on time. As the day dragged on, many wondered why the event had not kicked off early as expected. Accreditation of the delegates ended around 6.00pm, but the five aspirants, APC governors and other dignitaries were not at the stadium.
This may not be unconnected with the horse-trading and lobbying being carried out by some party bigwigs to ensure the emergence of Buhari as the presidential candidate of the party. At least, 12 APC governors, out of the 14, met at the State House, Marina where they agreed to endorse the candidacy of Buhari. This apparently sealed the fate of other aspirants as the governors and other party bigwigs told their supporters where the pendulum should swing.
There was also rumour in the social media that three of the aspirants, Kwankwaso, Okorocha and Nda-Isaiah, had stepped down for Buhari. But the aspirants quickly debunked such insinuation. This rumour was punctured when all the aspirants were introduced in the night as contestants for the presidential ticket of the party. With boredom and restiveness on the faces of delegates who had waited for long for the kick-off of the grand event, comic relief set in as the party brought in musical artistes and comedians, such as Gongo Aso Crooner, Abolore Akande aka 9ice and comedian, Seyi Law, to thrill the audience and they did not disappoint. They held the people spell bound, leaving them wanting more. 9ice’s hit track, ‘Street Credibility,’ featuring Tuface Idibia, was on replay at the convention.
The audience could not hide their excitement as they sang along with the hip hop act. Popular tracks performed by the musician includes: ‘Gongo Aso,’ ‘3310,’ ‘No Be Mistake,’ among other hit tracks. Comedian, Seyi Law had earlier held the audience to scintillating rib-cracking jokes. Tony Tetuila equally gave an account of himself by performing his hit track, ‘You Don Hit My Car,’ to the delight of the crowd. Another musician who performed at the event was Silva Sadi, a hip hop act from the north. The event was compered by Desmond Elliot and Tony One Week. About 7,214 delegates were accredited to vote at the convention, though 8,000 delegates were initially expected.
Dignitaries from all walks of life, including leadership of the APC, from the state and national levels, graced the occasion. All 14 governors of the APC states were at the event. The main programme started after the accreditation around midnight with a speech delivered by the National Convention Committee Chairman, Dr. Kayode Fayemi. Fayemi established that the mode of the primaries was going to be by secret ballot, saying that after the delegate had completed their voting, it would be counted and the winner would be announced.
“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 his or her clear choice. The delegates were chosen from the state congresses and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Abuja held earlier in the year,” he said. According to him, “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.”