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PDP Presidential Primaries:Jonathan crushes Atiku

President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday morning scaled the first major hurdle in his bid to contest the April presidential election, as he beat his opponents, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Dr. Sarah Jibril, for the Peoples Democratic Party ticket.

As at 4:15am when THE PUNCH went to bed, Jonathan was in a comfortable lead with 2162 votes while Abubakar, a former vice-president, was trailing with 528 votes. Jibril had to wait till the wee hours of the morning to record a single vote. The vote came from her state, Kwara. Although only the votes of delegates from 29 states and the Federal Capital Territory had been counted as at 4.15am, there were no hope that Atiku would surmount Jonathan’s lead as the President is believed to enjoy the support of the governors and delegates of most of the remaining seven states.

Jonathan’s victory was particularly resounding as he floored Abubakar even in his home state, Adamawa. While he polled 76 votes, Abubakar scored 31. He also won in Yobe, the home state of Adamu Ciroma, the Chairman of the group of Northern politicians that selected Abubakar as the consesus candidate of the region. Jonathan won all the votes cast by the 105 delegates from Cross River State. The former vice-president won in Sokoto, Zamfara and Kano states. He scored 84 and 70 votes in Sokoto and Zamfara respectively against Jonathan’s 32 and seven votes while in Kano, he clinched 98 votes against Jonathan’s 26.

The other states that the President won were Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Bauchi, Rivers, Taraba, Yobe, Lagos, Jigawa, Nassarawa, Osun, Benue, Ondo, Gombe, Borno, Imo, Cross River , Edo, Kwara, Enugu, Delta, Katsina, Ekiti and Ebonyi as well as the FCT.

Immediately after Bauchi’s votes were counted, the electoral panel jettisoned the alphabetical order of counting. It began with Rivers which had 128 delegates with Jonathan scoring 128 votes against Abubakar’s two. One vote was voided.

Meanwhile, the sudden appearance of the Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, at the primaries nearly marred the event.

Nwodo, who did not arrive with other members of the party’s National Working Committee, suddenly put up an appearance at 5.55pm, to take the microphone from the party’s Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Bello Mohammed.

Nwodo had been restrained on Wednesday by an Enugu High Court from parading himself as the chairman of the party pending the determination of the suit filed by a member of the party in his (Nwodo’s) state, Enugu.

His non-appearance with other NWC members had given the audience the impression that he was complying with the court order.

Before his sudden appearance, Mohammed had taken his position by declaring the convention open.

When he was asked to vacate the podium for Nwodo, Mohammed had protested, saying there was no such order from the President. He was however persuaded and left.

Nwodo later read his opening speech.

Nwodo had in his address urged delegates to use their votes correctly.

“I urge you to use your vote correctly to strentgthen our party and entrench democracy in our land,” he said. Describing the aspirants as “worthy Nigerians and members of the great PDP family.” he said, “choose one of them to be our flagbearer.”

Nwodo added, “I pray you to do so with decorum, dignity and a high sense of patriotism to our party and the nation. We have made elaborate arrangements to make this process manifestly transparent, free and fair.”

But four items away from his speech, the organisers of the event suddenly realised that Nwodo’s action could render the convention a nullity.

This made the National Secretary of the party, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, to announce that Nwodo had written a letter transferring his powers to Mohammed.

He subsequently called on the National Legal Adviser, Chief Olusola Oke, to move a motion empowering Mohammed to act instead of Nwodo.

Oke claimed that the neither the party nor Nwodo was served with the court order. He said the party merely read the court’s order on the pages of newspapers.

Apart from this, he said members of the NWC also heard the court order as rumour.

But in order to save the party from embarrassment, he said the party decided to abide with what they read on newspapers.

His motion was seconded by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Nafada Bayero.

At this point, Mohammed was invited to the podium where he read the same address earlier read by Nwodo.

“I now declare the convention open and hereby adopt all the activities that have taken place so far,” the acting chairman said.

The Enugu High Court had granted an interim request by a PDP member from Enugu State, Mr. Collins Amalu, that Nwodo should be removed as the party’s chairman since he was not properly readmitted into the PDP.

But on Thursday, Nwodo’s lawyer, Prof. Ilochi Okafor (SAN), said that the court had vacated the interim order. No mention was made of the reason for the U-turn by the court which had fixed January 31 for the hearing of Amalu’s substantive suit.

Nwodo had earlier filed a motion before the Appeal Court, Enugu Division, asking it to set aside the Wednesday order of the lower court.

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Posted by on Jan 14 2011. Filed under Headlines, Party Politics, Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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