ANPP Presidential Primaries - Intrigues & Deceit
(Posted 10th January, 2003) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.
The history of political parties in Nigeria gyrates more towards selection of
candidates contesting for elections. A pointer to this fact is the automatic
candidacy of the likes of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Alhaji
Aminu Kano as Presidential flag bearers of their respective parties at the first
and second republic elections. But, the likes of Generals Ibrahim Babangida and
Sani Abacha made a nonsense of such a consensual method of choosing candidates
that in 1999 almost a complete U-turn was made while electing party flag bearers,
with some few exceptions.
Thus, the drama that took place at the Eagle Square venue of the All Nigerian
Peoples Party (ANPP) Presidential Primaries on Monday 6th, January, 2003 was
both intriguing and disturbing. As the second largest political party after the
ruling PDP, expectation was quite high in respect of the candidate that will
emerge as the parties Presidential flag bearer considering the present number of
registered political parties in the country. This became more imperative with
the overwhelming victory that led to the re-emergence of incumbent President
Olusegun Obasanjo as the PDP flag bearer.
Ironically, both parties held their primaries at the same venue but as the PDP
primaries was marked with orderliness and tranquility, ANPP primaries in
contrast was a study in rowdiness and indiscipline. ANPP had over 13 aspirants
vying for the coveted position, among which are: Chief Harry Ayoade Akande,
Chief Pere Ajuwa, Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, Chief John Nwodo (Jnr), Chief Rochas
Okorocha, General Mohanmmadu Buhari (rtd), Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu,
Alhaji Daura Birima, Alhaji Yusuf Garba Ali, Alhaji Lema Jibrilu, Alhaji Yaya
Abubakar, and Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi.
But, rather than conduct the exercise according to the rules, a caucus within
the party astounded delegates and some Presidential aspirants alike when they
announced that the party had adopted a consensus candidate in the person of
General Muhanmmadu Buhari (rtd). This announcement caused pandemonium as five
of the aspirants - Chief Harry Ayoade Akande, Chief Pere Ajuwa, Chief Edwin
Ume-Ezeoke, Chief John Nwodo (Jnr), and Chief Rochas Okorocha - vehemently
opposed the undemocratic nature of such a selection. They all took turns to vent
their anger and disappointment in the ANPP leadership and Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke
thereby read a letter that was collectively written and signed by the five
aspirants to indicate their displeasure at the exercise and their withdrawal
from the primaries. They subsequently walked out of the Convention grounds.
After their departure, another Presidential aspirant Alhaji Lema Jubrilu came to
the podium to state the reasons why the Northern aspirants chose to step down
for Buhari. He said they believed that Buhari is the only candidate that can
deliver the Presidency to the party and as such they collectively agreed to give
him the chance as a consensus candidate. Dr. Chuka Okadigbo on his part, when
called upon to address the delegates said he stepped down for Buhari for the
greater unity of the whole citizens of Nigeria. He stressed the fact that he was
not forced or coerced to step down, but he believed that a Buhari ticket can
better challenge Obasanjo.
A member of the National House of Representative, Honorable Eme Patrick Okon
who was interviewed at the Convention grounds said they have had series of
meetings before the Primaries which was aimed at streamlining the candidates and
this resulted in Buhari emerging as the consensus choice. Asked how the party
intend to bring back the run-away aspirants, he said they will be convinced to
return to the party fold where they will collectively trounce the PDP.
Another member of the National Assembly, Senator Idris Danzalau was of the
opinion that Buhari was the best candidate to counter President Obasanjo and he
sees the actions of the disgruntled aspirants as a refusal to toe the party
line. He believes the party will win the April elections with the help of all
well meaning Nigerians.
General Mohanmmadu Buhari (rtd), the sole Presidential candidate for the ANPP in
addressing delegates at the primaries highlighted a three prong focus of his
administration if voted as President of the country. In his speech, he aims to
focus on the tripartite issues surrounding: prosperity, security and stability.
Speaking further, he laments the dismal performance of the PDP-led government
and promised to transform the country within a short period of time especially
on the three themes. He mentioned the inability of President Obasanjo to steer
the ship of the State successfully and believes Nigerians will overwhelmingly
support the ANPP in the April elections.
Afterwards, delegates were called to cast their votes for the single candidate.
Votes were cast in alphabetical order of States with Abia State delegates being
the first to vote at the Primaries. General Mohanmmadu Buhari (rtd), was at the
early hours of Tuesday 7th, January 2003 declared as the Presidential flag
of the ANPP and he later declared Dr. Chuba Okadigbo as his running mate.
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