Atiku’s emergence, Obasanjo’s support, Buhari’s travel ban top politics last week.

Atiku Abubakar and his entourage at Obasanjo's abode in Otta
Atiku Abubakar and his entourage at Obasanjo's abode in Otta [Photo: @SaharaReporters]

As the 2019 general election draws near, the political space is becoming more heated with parties producing their presidential candidates for the election last week.

The emergence of these candidates has been followed with lots of meetings and consultations with parties already attacking each other’s candidates well ahead of the November 18 official kick off date for electioneering campaigns.

Below is a round up of major political stories for last week.

SUNDAY

– Atiku Abubakar, a retired Customs officer and Nigeria’s vice president between 1999 and 2007, was elected the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the PDP national convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, held Saturday and Sunday.

Mr Abubakar defeated 11 other aspirants to get the ticket, making him the main challenger to President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 general election.

– Delegates to the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Convention affirmed President Muhammadu Buhari as the flag bearer of the party in the 2019 election.

The affirmation was done through a voice vote by the delegates after results of direct primary elections from all the 36 states and the FCT were announced.

The party claimed President Buhari scored 14,842,072 votes from the 36 states and FCT.

MONDAY

– The former minister who supervised the deadly immigration recruitment exercise that led to the death of at least 15 young Nigerians emerged the senatorial candidate for Benue South under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)

Abba Moro, who is believed to be an ally of ex-Senate President David Mark, was the interior minister in 2014 when a poorly planned March 15 recruitment exercise by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) caused the death of applicants who had gathered at the National Stadium, Abuja from across Nigeria. The applicants died in a stampede at the stadium.

– The All Progressives Congress (APC) attacked the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, saying the presidency is not for sale and alleging the politician paid delegates at its convention.

The party said this in a statement by its publicity secretary, Yekini Nabena, on Monday.

Reacting to the attack by the APC, the PDP said the allegation that Mr Abubakar emerged through vote-buying was false and only a result of the nervousness of the “deflated” APC.

– Outgoing Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, following the party’s convention said he regretted the failure of Sokoto Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, to emerge the PDP presidential candidate, and threatened to leave the party.

Mr Fayose, in a statement on Monday in Ado Ekiti, said he supported his Rivers counterpart, Nyesom Wike, to work for the emergence of Mr Tambuwal.

He said the outcome of the primary was making him reconsider his membership of the PDP because of Mr Tambuwal’s loss.

TUESDAY

– A young man identified as Kamaludden Bashir, commenced trekking from Zaria to Abuja to show his support over the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the PDP, similar to what someone did for President Buhari in 2015 when he trekked from Lagos to Abuja.

Mr Bashir who arrived Kaduna on Tuesday, a day after he left Zaria, told journalists that he planned to reach Abuja within five days.

– Senate President, Bukola Saraki, described a statement attacking him by the APC as irresponsible.

The APC in a statement on Tuesday by its publicity secretary, Mr Nabena, had said Mr Saraki’s loss in the party’s presidential primary showed PDP delegates “were fed up with his political style.”

The party said the disappointing performance of Mr Saraki who came third with 317 votes was a befitting end to the ambition of a “greedy, untrustworthy and double-dealing politician.”

– The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) warned candidates and political parties not to start campaigns yet.

The chairman of the commission, Mahmood Yakubu, gave the warning on Monday at a workshop for election professionals from the Commonwealth Africa Region organised by the Commonwealth in partnership with the commission.

WEDNESDAY

– A former minister of information, Jerry Gana, on Thursday, called for review of the presidential primary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in which he was defeated by a former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke.

Mr Duke polled 812 votes to defeat Mr Gana who polled 611 votes at the party’s national convention at Old Parade Ground, Abuja.

Mr Gana said he should be declared the candidate of the party because Mr Duke was not qualified to contest, the ticket having been zoned to the northern part of the country.

In reaction to this however, the SDP said it would address the complaints to ensure the matter does not degenerate to the extent of jeopardising the confidence of Nigerians in SDP as the alternative party in the 2019 general election.

– The governing APC was declared ineligible by INEC to field candidates for all elective positions in Zamfara State in the 2019 general elections, having failed to meet the October 7 deadline for conducting primaries to elect candidates for the elections.

The commission duly notifed the party’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, in a letter sighted by PREMIUM TIMES reporter Tuesday evening of its decision.

– Mr Oshiomhole, however, said the APC will present candidates in Zamfara State in the general elections despite, faulting the notification by the electoral commission.

“Be informed that in spirit of due compliance with the law, we affirm we shall indeed be presenting candidates for governorship, National Assembly and state House of Assembly in Zamfara State for the general elections before the deadline of such names which has been fixed by your commission on October 18 and in line with section 87 (6) of the electoral act 2010 as amended”, Mr Oshiomhole said in a letter to INEC dated October 10.

THURSDAY

– Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said he had reviewed his stance on not backing his former deputy for the presidency of Nigeria.

Mr. Obasanjo said this when Atiku Abubakar and leaders of the PDP visited him at his Abeokuta home in company of some clerics.

He said he believed Mr Abubakar has ‘re-discovered and re-positioned himself’ and is now good enough to enjoy his support in the next election.

– The APC again attacked the PDP, saying the opposition party cannot prevent its candidates from being put through the corruption and integrity test, which it believes he will fail

The party was reacting to a statement by spokesperson of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, in which he accused the APC-led administration of “deliberate efforts to impugn on the character” of the PDP presidential candidate, Mr Abubakar.

– President Buhari reacted to the endorsement of his main challenger, Mr Abubakar, by Mr Obasanjo. He said they will lose all together at the poll.

The president’s reaction was contained in a statement by his spokesperson, Garba Shehu.

FRIDAY

– The presidential candidate of the PDP, Mr Abubakar, announced a former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, as his running mate for the 2019 election.

The announcement followed a meeting between the two in Abuja.

– The APC appointed Lanre Issa-Onilu as its new national spokesperson.

The appointment was made Friday evening by the National Working Committee of the APC in Abuja although no formal announcement was made.

Mr Issa-Onilu and an aide to the party’s chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, Simon Ebegbulem, confirmed the appointment to PREMIUM TIMES.

– The APC described former president, Mr Obasanjo, as a hypocrite and self-serving for allegedly putting pressure on the United States authorities to lift a visa ban on Mr Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the opposition PDP.

The ruling party in a statement by its spokesperson, Mr Nabena, on Friday said it had credible reports that Mr Obasanjo made moves to secure US entry visa for Mr Abubakar.

SATURDAY

– The senators representing Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, announced they had dropped plans to remove the president of the Senate.

Plans for Mr Saraki’s removal had been a topical issue since his defection from the ruling party to the opposition party as both the APC and its members called for his resignation or removal.

Mr Saraki, however, vowed to remain in office saying he enjoys the support of majority of senators.

– Mr Obasanjo dismissed the allegation by the APC that he was mounting pressure on American authorities to expunge an alleged corruption case against Mr Abubakar.

The APC said Mr Abubakar is wanted in the U.S. for fraud, claiming Mr Obasanjo was scheming to have the alleged charges dropped in order to clear the path for Mr Abubakar’s entry into that country.

Mr Abubakar has not been able to enter the U.S. since at least 2007 when he completed his two-term as vice-president, serving under Mr Obasanjo the entire eight years.

– The presidency announced the placement of 50 high-profile Nigerians on travelling restrictions.

The individuals, whose identities were not disclosed, include those whose assets, valued at N50 million and above, are subject of corruption investigation and litigation.

The statement by presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said the measure was part of the implementation of Executive Order Number 6 which seeks to ensure “that all assets within a minimum value of N50 million or equivalent, subject to investigation or litigation are protected from dissipation by employing all available lawful means, pending the final determination of any corruption-related matter.”

– The PDP said it rejected in its entirety, “attempt by the Buhari Presidency to foist full-blown fascism on our country, beginning with the placement of illegal travel restrictions on Nigerians.”

In a press statement signed by Mr Ologbondiyan, the party said this “draconian step is clearly targeted at members of the opposition parties, perceived political enemies of President Muhammadu Buhari, well-meaning Nigerians, including members of the business community, religious leaders, former political leaders and traditional rulers, who are perceived to be averse to President Buhari’s re-election bid.”


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