Long-standing politician, Bamanga Tukur, whose candidacy for the chairmanship of the People’s Democratic Party was controversially backed by President Goodluck Jonathan, today emerged the new leader of the ruling party after 10 rivals dramatically stepped down in a last minute maneuvering that seems to underscore the party’s aversion for free and transparent election.
In long stretches of minutes on Saturday at the Eagles Square, several candidates took turns to withdraw their ambitions citing “directives” from party leaders, and also claiming to be acting in the overall interest of the party.
Onwe Onwe was named the consensus candidate for the Deputy National Secretary; Olisa Metuh, National Publicity Secretary; Kema Chikwe, National Women Leader; Okechukwu Nnadozie, Deputy National Organizaing Secretary; Claudius Emekise, Deputy National Treasurer; Victor Pam, National Legal Adviser; Binta Machika, Deputy National Publicity Secretary.
The new twist left the position of the Chairman, Secretary, Auditor and Financial Secretary as the only offices to be filled by a yes or no affirmation by ballot.
Mr. Tukur, 77, whose ambition was dealt a blow earlier this week after governors from his north east region, teamed up to reject his candidacy, became the sole candidate for the top position, after Shettima Mustapha, speaking for the other nine candidates, announced their withdrawals.
At a zonal vote in Bauchi state, Mr. Tukur was defeated by a far less popular Musa Babayo who scored 14 against Mr. Tukur’s 2 votes.
As at the time of this report, the yes or nay affirmation – a formality meant to appease the Independent National Electoral Commission’s position on parties’ internal democracy – was ongoing. Mr. Tukur is expected to be officially announced the new chairman through a motion to be adopted by the delegates.
Former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola also emerged the sole candidate for the positojn of the Party Secretary.
Days before the convention, Mr. Jonathan, who attended the event with Vice President Namadi Sambo, has assured every contestant to the different offices fair opportunity, but many candidates spoke of being ether “directed or mandated” to step down.
Former National Publicity Secretary of the party, Ahmed Rufai Alkali, a candidate for the chairmanship position, said there were “rigorous persuasion and consultations” to get other candidates to stand down.
“Some of us made the sacrifice to avoid divisions in the party,” he said. “The party is supreme.”