The two main political parties in Nigeria on Wednesday ended the race to pick their presidential candidates for the February 2015 election.
For the Peoples Democratic Party, its special convention and primary at the Eagle Square in Abuja were considered as a mere formality as President Goodluck Jonathan had earlier been okayed as a sole candidate by all its organs.
The convention, according to a top PDP source in Abuja , “was merely held to ratify the President’s candidacy by delegates.”
The situation was however different in the All Progressives Congress which as of Wednesday morning had Muhammadu Buhari, Abubakar Atiku, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Rochas Okorocha and Sam Nda-Isaiah as presidential aspirants .
Before the accreditation of 8,000 delegates to determine the fate of the aspirants ended 6pm at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos, about 12 APC governors were said to have thrown their weight behind Buhari, a former head of state.
One of our correspondents learnt from the media aides of three of the governors that they resolved to support the former head of state on Tuesday night.
A top source, who was present at the meeting where the agreement by the 12 governors to support Buhari took place, said he was willing to bet his N10m car that Buhari would win.
He said, “All the governors have decided that Buhari is the man for the job. And we have agreed that this project is too big for us to destroy now.
“Even the PDP are afraid of Buhari. I can bet on my car that Buhari will win.”
It was learnt that the only APC governors who were not supporting Buhari are governors Rochas Okorocha(Imo) and Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), who are presidential aspirants.
Earlier on Wednesday, an online news portal, Saharareporters said in its report that Okorocha, Kwankwaso and Nda-Isaiah withdrew from the race and backed Buhari.
But the three aspirants denied the report.
Before voting started, the National Convention Committee Chairman, Kayode Fayemi, described the special convention of the PDP as a coronation and not a convention.
He said among all the political parties in the country, only the APC was holding an open and transparent presidential primary.
Fayemi, a former governor of Ekiti State, said, “You can see that our primary is very transparent and is offering every aspirant a level playing field unlike the PDP which is holding a coronation.
“Theirs is just an event to put a crown on Jonathan and that is not a convention.”
The Deputy Chairman of the committee, Kawu Baraje, who spoke with delegates of each of the aspirants, assured them of a level playing field.
He said each of the aspirants would have 12 delegates to monitor the primary.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Lai Mohammed, expressed the hope that the primary would be a success.
“This is the moment Nigerians have been waiting for. We have 8,000 delegates participating,” he said.
When asked how many delegates were from each state, Mohammed said he did not have the number.
Governors in solidarity walk
In what appears to be a demonstration of oneness, Governors Rotimi Amaechi, Abiola Ajimobi, Adams Oshiomhole, Babatunde Fashola, Abdulfatah Ahmed and Rauf Aregbesola took a walk on the tartan tracks of the stadium.
The walk elicited shouts among the crowd, who waved brooms painted in APC green, white and blue colours.
A delegate said, “You can see that the governors are in one accord. They have control of their delegates.
“The delegates from each state are all going to vote for the choice of their governors and the choice of the governors are obvious.”
A former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, and an ex- National Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande, sat side by side at the VIP section of the stadium.
Governors Babatunde Fashola(Lagos); Kazeem Shettima (Borno); and Tanko Al-Makura(Nasarawa) arrived at the venue almost the same time and made straight for the VIP section of the stadium.
A delegate from one of the South-West states, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that the contest was between Buhari and Abubakar, a former vice-president.
“Buhari is the preferred candidate but Atiku is pulling financial muscle,” the source said.
Before the accreditation started, the delegates were thrilled by Abolore Akande (aka 9ice), who a few hours sent a petition to the national leadership of the APC over the conduct of the House of Representatives primary in Ogbomoso North-South Constituency, which he lost on Sunday.
He performed his biggest hits like Gongo Aso, Street credibility, No be Mistake, Gbamu gbamu. He was joined on the stage by Tony Tetuila, SeyI Law and Desmond Elliot, who doubled as co- Masters of Ceremonies.