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 primary held during the party’s national convention at Old Parade Ground, Abuja.
But Mr Gana said he should be declared the candidate of the party because Mr Duke was not qualified to contest for the ticket of the party, having been zoned to the northern part of the country.
In a statement by the director-general of his campaign organisation, Ike Neliaku, Mr Gana said the presidential ticket should have been zoned and rotated to the North.
”While the process was in progress, we drew the attention of some party leaders to the fact that the presidential ticket was constitutionally zoned to the North,” Mr Neliaku stated.
”Therefore, aspirants from the South should have been accordingly advised. Sadly, this matter of zoning was ignored.” he added.
Mr Neliaku also said the Amended SDP 2018 Constitution states the principles of rotation and zoning of offices.
”The Party shall adhere to the principle of Zoning and Rotation of Political Offices based on the principles of inclusiveness, justice, equity and fairness to all. The Party therefore shall observe the following: The office of the President and National Chairman of the Party shall rotate between the South and North and amongst the six (6 geopolitical zones),” he stated.
He noted that since the the National Chairman of the SDP hails from the South, the presidential candidate ought to have been restricted to aspirants from the North.
”Since the National Chairman of our Party, Chief Olu Falae GCON, CFR, is from the South, it follows logically that in accordance with the tenets of our party, the letter and spirit of our Constitution; the contest for the Presidential candidacy of the Party ought to have been restricted to aspirants from the North. So our advise which was ignored, was not merely wishful thinking, but a weighty constitutional matter,” he said.
”In the light of the above, it is patently clear that in accordance with the SDP Constitution, Mr. Donald Duke did not meet the condition precedent for participating in the presidential primary of the Party in the first place. This singular constitutional provision clearly disqualifies Mr. Duke from the contest.
”Accordingly, our candidate, Professor Jerry Gana, being the candidate from the North that scored the highest lawful votes, should be returned as the candidate of the party for the 2019 presidential election.”
In its reaction, however, the party said it would address the complaints to ensure that the matter does not degenerate to the extent of jeopardising the confidence of Nigerians in SDP as the alternative party in the forthcoming 2019 general election.
In a statement signed by the party’s national publicity secretary, Alfa Mohammed, the party said it holds Mr Gana in very high esteem and would continue to treat him with utmost respect as a senior stakeholder and one of the father figures in the party.
”The attention of the leadership of the Social Democratic Party, SDP has been drawn to the grievances expressed by one of its presidential aspirants in the just concluded presidential primary election, Prof.Jerry Gana, at a press conference addressed by the DG of his campaign organisation, Ike. Neliaku.
”Consequently, we consider it imperative to state categorically that the National Headquarter of SDP has received a petition filed by the aspirant, and the presidential primary election appeal panel has commenced sitting on the appeal with the view to studying the grounds of the appeal and making necessary decisions.
”Similarly, being an internal party affair, the conflict resolution mechanism of the party is also being put into effect to ensure that the matter does not degenerate to the extent of jeopardising the confidence reposed in it by Nigerians as the alternative party in the forthcoming 2019 general election.
”The party holds Professor Jerry Gana to a very high esteem and would continue to treat him with utmost respect as a senior stakeholder and one of the father figures in the party.
”Be that as it may, it urges all its members across the globe; as well as the concerned members of the public to be calm and be rest assured that the matter will be resolved internally without delay and the party will come out stronger from it.
“We thank all those who have called to either express concern or solidarity with the party,” the party spokesperson stated.