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ANPP Presidential Primaries - Intrigues & Deceit (Posted 10th January, 2003) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.

Muhammadu Buhari, ANPP Presidential CandidateThe 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 bearer of the ANPP and he later declared Dr. Chuba Okadigbo as his running mate.

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