President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday won the Peoples Democratic Party's presidential primaries. His victory came after a spirited contest with former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, and veteran aspirant, Sarah Jubril.
Tunde Adeniran, the Chief Returning Officer of the party who declared the result said out of the total valid vote of 3, 542, Mr Jonathan pulled 2, 736 while his closest rival Mr Atiku scored 805. Sarah Jubril got only one vote.
Defeat at home
The significant loss for Mr. Abubakar was in his home state of Adamawa where Mr. Jonathan scored a whopping 76 votes to Mr. Abubakar's paltry 31. Mr. Jonathan in his home state of Bayelsa got all the 67 votes of the delegates.
Last night at the Eagles Square where the event held, Mr. Abubakar, for the umpteenth time, furiously deplored alleged disrespect for the party's zoning policy by his "main opponent", Mr. Jonathan, a theme that has stood central to Mr. Abubakar's months of campaign, and laced his last speech to the delegates, and the nation, shortly before the voting began.
"In 2002, an expanded caucus of our great party met and reaffirmed that policy," he read from a prepared speech.
"My main opponent was at that meeting and voted in favour of that resolution. He signed as number 35 on the list. Today, he pretends that that meeting never took place and that the resolution never happened.
"Yet, he would not summon a meeting of our party to discuss that issue and if deemed appropriate jettison it. In fact, on October 27, 2010, he publicly declared that zoning does not exist in our party. Talk about throwing away the ladder that got you up there! That is not the kind of person you would entrust the fate of this country," Mr. Abubakar said.
In a bellicose speech, he warned that "If rules can be thrown away by just anyone who feels that he is powerful enough to do so, then it is an invitation to lawlessness and anarchy. Nobody wants that.
"Our word must be our bond. But my main opponent believes in doing things simply because it is convenient. He does not seem to care if the country is thrown into chaos and anarchy as long as he remains in power. This is dangerous," he stressed.
The long-awaited event earlier billed for 10am yesterday, set off later actually late afternoon amid strict security presence that frisked every entrant to the venue ranging from party locals from the states, governors, and federal lawmakers.
Officials of the State Security Service, police, Civil Defence Corps, mounted security with sniffing dogs and bomb detectors while two police helicopters hovered above the venue as the event held.
After a long wait, Mr. Abubakar and Mr. Jonathan arrived at 4.22pm and 5.30pm respectively, long after Ms. Jubril had arrived and taken a seat up front within the glassed compartment. The president, walking apart with his wife, Patience, sauntered in and shook hands with both contenders before the events began seven minutes later.
After months of intense campaign of harsh rhetoric between the two main aspirants, the convention provided the chance for a face-to-face meeting between the current president and the former vice president.
Full of energy and appeals to the women and underprivileged in society, she says with a female president, Nigeria will not be considered a corrupt country any more. She dubbed herself ‘Mama President' and ends her address with a rendition of ‘We shall overcome'.
That set the stage for Mr. Abubakar, who for a while after a confrontational beginning, directed his address to appealing to delegates and Nigerians to view him as the tool for a change, promising jobs, better security, power, education, and peace in the Niger Delta.
Mr. Jonathan paid tribute to the late Mr. Yar'Adua first as he began a speech that clearly cashed in the temperamental start of his chief challenger.
"I will not join issues with anybody because I believe Nigerians know all of us and our history and they will choose who they like," he said.
"Dear delegates, if you give me and Architect Namadi Sambo your mandate, we will give this country a strong leadership and we will never let you down," he added.
He said Mr. Abubakar's, whom he referred to as "some other contributors" questioning of insecurity in the Niger Delta, was misplaced since rising oil output in the region showed that security in the area had improved.
"I will give this country a strong, strong leadership to be a greater nation," he said.