Former Vice President Atiku Abubarkar yesterday emerged as the candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), making him the main challenger to President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 presidential election.
At the party's national convention which held at the Adokie Amiesiekema Stadium in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Atiku polled 1,532 votes to defeat his closest rival Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal who scored 693 votes.
Senate President Bukola Saraki scored 317 votes to come third, while Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso followed with 158 votes. Alhaji Sule Lamido polled 96 votes, while former Kaduna State Governor Ahmed Makarfi scored 74 votes.
Former Minister of Special Duties, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki scored 65 votes while former Sokoto State Governor Attahiru Bafarawa got 48 votes.
Former Senate President David Mark got 35 votes, former Plateau State Governor Jona Jang scored 19 votes, while Datti Baba-Ahmed had 5 votes.
PDP Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar in a handshake with the party's National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus and flanked by other aspirants and party leaders after receiving the result certificate as winner of the PDP elective national convention in Port Harcourt at the weekend
Factors that worked for Atiku
Daily Trust learnt that two factors worked for Atiku's victory. One is his campaign on restructuring which earned him the support of delegates for the South East, South West and South-South.
Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State said all the delegates from the state voted for Atiku to help in his fight for restructuring the country.
Some other issues played out in the build up to the convention, including the 11th hour endorsement of Atiku by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and other generals, which necessitated the presence of General Aliyu Gusau at the convention.
A member of the Atiku campaign organisation, who does not want his name in print, said the major decider was the 11th hour support of the candidature of Atiku by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and other past generals.
Another factor that worked for Atiku is the resolve of some northern delegates to vote for a candidate that has the clout to stand against President Buhari in 2019.
"If you take a look at all the aspirants, you will observe that Atiku is the most formidable candidate that can stand Buhari in any election. I do not mean that other aspirants are not credible but you needed somebody that has a clout to march Buhari head on and that personality is Atiku Abubakar," said a delegate who pleaded anonymity.
Another source said Atiku won the primaries because some PDP governors and other stakeholders took him for granted.
But the Coordinator of Atiku Media Office, Paul Ibe, said the delegates voted with passion in order for the PDP to reclaim power and fix the socio-economic, political and security challenges bedevilling the nation.
I cannot do it alone, Atiku tells aspirants
Atiku, in his speech after he was declared the winner, commended the convention committee headed by Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, for conducting a credible and transparent election.
He also commended the role played by Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike towards ensuring a successful convention of the PDP in Port Harcourt.
Atiku was accompanied by all the defeated aspirants, the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus and other members of the party's National Working Committee (NWC) to the podium where he made his speech.
"I am moved by the outcome of the convention and I promise you, I will not fail you. Under President Olusegun Obasanjo, I learnt a lot as Vice President. I believe the experience I got will help me to achieve the current task," he said.
He commended his fellow contestants for displaying unity of purpose and commitment, saying: "I cannot do it alone; I need your understanding; I need your participation. I am prepared to work with you and together we will succeed and after we succeeded, we become partners in progress.
According to him, Nigerians are yearning for the return of PDP to power because that APC government is "clueless."
All aspirants are with you, Saraki tells Atiku
Speaking on behalf of all the aspirants, Saraki said they all resolved to work with the former vice president to ensure that the PDP reclaimed power next year.
"We the aspirants are not walking to anywhere. We are going to work with you to ensure victory for our party in 2019. We all knew right from the beginning that only one person will emerge so this is not a surprise to us.
"We are here to work with you, to bring success to this party because you know that is what Nigerians are yearning for.
"I thank the Chairman of the Convention Planning Committee and Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa for putting in place a most transparent convention. I also thank the well-deserved presidential candidate of our party. Today, you (Atiku) truly deserve it," he said.
Governor Wike, who displayed his ballot paper to show that he voted for Tambuwal, congratulated Atiku on his emergence as PDP candidate for the 2019 presidential election. Wike also promised to work for Atiku's success.
How consensus failed
Last minute attempts to reach an agreement among the presidential aspirants on Saturday failed, resulting in the party going into voting to pick the candidate.
Daily Trust learnt that a meeting of the party's stakeholders and the aspirants was held to encourage some of the aspirants to withdraw but that did not work.
Daily Trust learnt that delegates were said to be richer with some hard currencies from presidential aspirants. When our reporter visited bureau de change in Port Harcourt, he saw many visitors rushing to change their monies.
A political analyst, Chief Jackson Lekan OJo, also told our correspondent in Port Harcourt that party leaders should come together and discuss ways to keep the party united and how its candidate would win the centre.
"Governor Waziri Tambuwal was supposed to emerge as candidate today (yesterday), but if you talk of national clout to defeat the APC, it is Atiku.
"I think the best thing that has happened to the PDP is the emergence of Atiku today (tomorrow) as presidential candidate. I think he was elected because he has a war chest to undo the APC," he said.
PDP: INEC, APC should learn from us
The PDP has called the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to learn for the orderliness, transparency and credibility of its presidential primary.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said "The success of our presidential primary followed our strict adherence to democratic rules and principles of transparency and fairness, which has eluded the nation since President Muhammadu Buhari-led licentious administration assumed office. Simply put, in the PDP Presidential primary, every vote counted."
Atiku's timeline on presidential contest
In 1992, Atiku contested for the presidential ticket of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) but lost to Chief MKO Abiola.
In 2007, Atiku was the presidential candidate of Action Congress (AC) but lost Late Umaru 'Yar'Adua
In 2011, he contested for the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but was defeated by Goodluck Jonathan
In 2015, he sought for the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) but lost to Muhammadu Buhari
In 2018, he clinched the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2019 presidential election