Editor's note: Political commentator, Arinze Igboeli, writes on the national convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition - Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which was held almost simultaneously this past weekend.
Last week Saturday could as well be described as the nation's Super Saturday, a day when the nation's politics pulsated owing to the conventions of our nation's major political parties being the All Progressives Congress, APC and the People's Democratic Party, PDP. Both parties met to pick their party's flag bearers and at its end settled for the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and a one time Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
For President Buhari and his party the APC, 2019 will determine whether his administration will consolidate on it's good works so far, majorly; the fight against corruption; the massive infrastructural developments ongoing all over the federation; the social intervention programs, such as the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme; NPower, Conditional Cash Transfer and GEEP. Also included in the Buhari's administration achievements is the war on terrorism as well as the attempt to revive the economy which it met in tatters, when it took over the reins of power in 2015.
The PDP will however cry foul over these claims, even though it is yet to explain to Nigerians what it achieved with the mandate of the people for sixteen long years it held power at the centre, if my memory is correct, it even offered the nation what many would term as a tongue in cheek apology, for its years of the locust which was heavily characterised by its sordid avarice and truculent manner in which it left the nation largely undeveloped. It at least ought to have done some penitence while waiting for the citizenry to at least come out of the harrowing state it plunged us into, as well as accept its apology before it talked of unseating the incumbent.
I will not say that President Buhari has being perfect, that would be telling myself a lie, but to say that given the situation in which he met the nation; as well as the prevailing circumstances that governed whatever choices he had before him, it will be unfair to deny that he has not done well.
It is with these train of thoughts that I would like to list the winners and losers of the two conventions.
President Muhammadu Buhari
His affirmation as the APC's presidential candidate with a staggering 14. 8 million votes from the 36 states of the federation is a testament to his numerous achievements as president.
The comrade chairman of the ruling party ought to the commended for his introduction of the direct method of primaries introduced to the APC. This approach which gives power back to every member of the party is indeed a welcome development. However, the number of challenges the party faced in the course of its implementation need to be fine-tuned.
The Waziri Adamawa's emergence as the presidential flag-bearer last Saturday was a gambit that paid off handsomely. His defection to the PDP as well as his deep campaign pockets projected him to the party's delegates as one with the will to give the ruling party, a run for its money at the 2019 polls. Atiku having vied unsuccessfully for the office of the president on four occasions now has a good shot at the office, an office he has so coveted since his days as the country's number two citizen.
Before the primaries there were a number of cat calls as to whether the coming convention would be free and fair, a virtue the PDP naturally lacked in its heady days while it was in power. It got to a point that many even questioned the neutrality of the venue, and made strong agitations for a shift to the Federal Capital Territory. This riled Governor Nyesome Wike, who threatened a quid pro quo should the primaries be moved to another venue, tensions smoldered before some sort of détente was arrived at.
Even at that, it was expected that the PDP would live up to its reputation, where 17 can be said to be greater than 19. Yours sincerely expected the worst but to my amazement except for the stories of crass purchase of votes, the primaries went on smoothly, all thanks to the organizational ability of its convention planning committee headed by Ifeanyi Okowa.
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Largely seen as the emperor of the PDP, Wike who is the biggest funder of the party loomed larger than life and was thought to call the shots before the primaries. He made no pretense about his preferred candidate in the person of Aminu Tambuwal, but failed to deliver Tambuwal when it mattered most!
Bukola Saraki, Tambuwal and Kwankwanso
The trio had indeed cross carpeted from the APC to the PDP all in the hope of nicking the coveted ticket. Each was assured the ticket and looked hopeful, sadly the trio could only muster a miserly 317, 693 and 158 votes respectively.
Though the convention was seen to be free and fair, the allegations of vote buying was indeed a blight on the success of the convention, casting credibility issues on the choices of the delegates. Also, its rejection of party faithfuls such as Sule Lamido, Ibrahim Dakwambo, David Mark, Ahmed Markafi and Attahiru Baffarawa who had remained with the party through its trying times was indeed a wrong way to reward them for their years of loyalty!
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