Over 6,800 delegates converged at the Eagle Square, Abuja in June to elect a new set of leaders for the governing All Progressives Congress.
The same number or more are again expected today, Saturday, October 6, to affirm President Muhammadu Buhari as the candidate of the party for the 2019 presidential election.
Mr Buhari had already polled impressive results in the direct method of election adopted by the party to choose its presidential candidate.
The incumbent president was the only one who picked and returned nominations forms.
In the direct mode of election, all card carrying party members line up in front of a picture display of their candidates and officials count the number of votes (people on queue) that each person garners openly.
The election of Mr Buhari by party members took place last Friday while he was in faraway New York, USA attending the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Despite his absence, the president’s popularity among party members was visible.
The national leadership of the APC had earlier appointed state governors and party leaders in states not governed by the party as returning officers. Most of the governors announced high number of votes for the president.
Mr Buhari was said to have polled over 2.9 million votes in Kano, over 800,000 in his home state, Katsina and over 700 votes in Bauchi, among others. In all, the president scored between 98 to 100 per cent of total votes cast in the election.
But, is that a sign of victory in 2019?
How It All Began
Before finally clinching the presidency in 2015, Mr Buhari unsuccessfully ran for the office in 2003, 2007 and 2011.
In 2003, Mr Buhari ran under the platform of the defunct, All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and he came second behind then incumbent, Olusegun Obasanjo of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Mr Buhari scored 12,710,022 votes representing 32.19 per cent of total votes cast. Mr Obasanjo scored 24,456,140 votes, representing 61.94 per cent to emerge victorious. That election was reported by most observers as being highly flawed.
In the 2007 election, Mr Buhari again ran under the platform of the ANPP and lost to the late Umaru Yar’adua of the PDP. While Mr Yar’adua scored 24,638,063 (69.82 per cent), Mr Buhari scored 6,605,299 (18.72 per cent).
Like in the 2003, the 2007 election was also adjudged highly flawed by both domestic and foreign observers as well as the international community. In fact, even the elected President, Mr Yar’adua, admitted that the election that brought him to office was flawed.
In 2011, Mr Buhari was again on the ballot, this time, as the candidate of the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), a party he formed after he fell out with a cross section of the leadership of his former party, ANPP.
In that election, Mr Buhari scored 12,214,853 (31.98%) of total votes which again, makes him the runner up to incumbent Goodluck Jonathan of PDP. Mr Jonathan scored 22,495,187 (58.89 per cent) of the votes.
In the aftermath of all the elections, Mr Buhari challenged the outcome in the judiciary, always ending up at the Supreme Court, without success.
In 2015, Mr Buhari’s political fortune finally changed for the better. He defeated incumbent Jonathan of the PDP to win the presidency under the platform of a newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC).
APC is born out of a merger of former opposition parties, the ACN, CPC, ANPP and a faction of APGA.
In the election held in March 2015, Mr Buhari scored 15,424,921 (53.96 per cent), while Mr Jonathan scored 12,853,162 (44.96 per cent).
There were media reports that Mr Buhari had pledged to do only one term if elected as president in 2015. However, as preparations for another round of elections in 2019 began to hit up, the president gave the hint that he will seek re-election, in an address to Nigerians based in Cote D’ Ivoire.
The president arrived late to the interactive session and told the gathering that he had to wait for the two governors in his entourage to accompany him to the meeting because of their electoral value.
“First I want to apologise for keeping you for too long sitting, this is because I insisted on the governors attending this meeting.
“This is why I came along with them so that when we are going to meet you, when you are going to meet the rest of Nigerians, if you tell them that their governors were in the company of the president, I think that will be another vote for me in the future. I’m very pleased that they were able to turn up,” Mr Buhari said to thunderous laughter and clapping by the audience.
Again, while on a visit to Kano state, Mr Buhari gave the same hint at seeking a second term when he told a gathering at the Government House that he was sure Kano State would vote for him, going by the huge number of people that came out to receive and show him support.
The president eventually formally declared his intention to run again, in a short address to members of APC National Executive Committee (NEC), at a meeting in Abuja.
Some of APC’s presidential direct primary election
Abia – 455,656
Adamawa – 263,945
Anambra – 248,268
Bauchi – 786,032
Bayelsa – 210,201
Benue – 259,130
Borno – 1,254,111
Edo – 505,827
Imo – 697,532
Jigawa – 202,599
Kaduna – 1, 956, 500
Kano – 2, 931,235
Katsina – 802,819
Kebbi – 123,000
Kogi – 387,003
Rivers – 388,653
Sokoto – 472,344
Zamfara – 247,847
Sign of things to come?
The results of the presidential primary election show that Mr Buhari still enjoys the support of his party members. Their commitment to his re-election bid is palpable because despite the fact that he is the only candidate, many chose to come out to vote, to show their support to his candidacy.
However, the major opposition party, the PDP has criticised the Buhari Presidency and the APC for “posting fictitious figures” as votes secured by Mr Buhari at the APC presidential primary, “just to hoodwink Nigerians and create an impression of massive support for President Buhari”.
The presidency on the other hand, said the outcome of the presidential primaries, is a major boost to Mr Buhari’s success at next year’s general election.
The true picture of the nation’s political terrain can only be confirmed in February next year when the general populace go to the polls to vote for the candidate of their choice.
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