Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Speaker of the House of Representatives were absent from a meeting where the National Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan as the party’s sole candidate for the February 14, 2015 presidential election.
Members of the NEC took the decision after various organs, including the National Working Committee and the Chief Tony Anenih-led Board of Trustees of the PDP, said they had endorsed the President during their meetings in Abuja on Wednesday.
The PDP Governors’ Forum led by Akwa Ibom State Governor Godswill Akpabio had on Tuesday announced that Jonathan would be their sole candidate for the poll.
Anenih and Akpabio are known diehard supporters of the President who, in spite of the ongoing rallies by his acolytes, had remained evasive on whether or not he would seek re-election.
Obasanjo and Tambuwal sent no apologies to the NEC meeting which held at the Wadata Plaza National Headquarters of the PDP on Thursday.
The National Chairman of the party, Adamu Mu’azu, led other members National Working Committee to the meeting.
The process of adopting the President started when the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, announced that the PDP Governors’ Forum had an important message to deliver to the members of the NEC.
He thereafter called on the Governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, to speak on behalf of his colleagues.
Aliyu said he and other PDP governors met in Abuja on Wednesday night and adopted Jonathan as their sole candidate.
In the middle of his speech, Aliyu looked at the direction of Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido, and asked him to stand up for recognition.
Lamido, who is believed to be nursing presidential ambition was not part of the PDP governors’ meeting where the decision to adopt Jonathan was taken. But he was represented by his deputy.
Aliyu said, “Where is my brother, the governor of Jigawa State? Please stand up for recognition.’’
As soon he said this, the NEC members clapped in unison when Lamido who was dressed in a suit and a tie to match, stood up and raised his thump and smiled at the President.
He, however, did not utter any word.
Continuing, Aliyu said the governors decided to adopt Jonathan in order to enable the PDP to go into the election with one voice.
Metuh also called on a former Deputy Chairman of the party from the South-West, Chief Shuaib Oyedokun, to deliver the message he had on behalf of members of the BOT.
Oyedokun said, ‘‘We members of the BOT, at our meeting on Wednesday night, addressed the issue of incumbent and the board willingly passed a motion to adopt President Jonathan and agreed that he should be the sole presidential candidate of the party. This is in tandem with the position taken by our governors.’’
After that, Metuh asked the Senate President, David Mark, to speak and deliver the message he brought from the party’s caucus in the National Assembly.
Mark, who is also said to be scheming to return to his position in 2015, said the PDP members in the National Assembly were interested in continuity.
He said, “We don’t only believe in continuity, what we are doing today is a legacy we want to outlive us.”
In her speech, the leader of the women, Mrs. Justina Eze, said all women members of the party had also endorsed Jonathan as the sole candidate of the party.
Moving the motion for the adoption of the President as the sole candidate of the party, a former Acting National Chairman of the party, Dr. Haliru Mohammed , said the action would make the party to go into the election with a united voice.
‘‘I, therefore, move a motion to nominate the President as the sole presidential candidate of the party for the 2015 presidential election. I so moved,” Mohammed said.
A former Governor of Anambra State, Chief Jim Nwobodo, seconded the motion.
Mu’azu thereafter asked for those in favour of the motion to say “ayes ” which was echoed by almost all those who were inside the venue of the meeting.
He also called for those against the decision to say ‘‘ay.’’
Some of the attendees however shouted that those against the adoption were not present at the meeting.
If the adoption scales through the PDP presidential primary fixed for December 6, it will be the first time since its inception in 1998.
In 1999, former President Olusegun Obasanjo slugged it out at the party’s convention in Jos with a former Vice-President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme.
In 2003 when he was running for the second term, Obasanjo was challenged by the late former Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, for the ticket.
In 2007, the late President, Umaru Yar’Adua, was challenged for the ticket by Gen. Aliyu Gusau and Chief Rochas Okorocha.
Yar’Adua won the ticket and the election.
In his response, President Jonathan said he was extremely happy that the governors initiated the idea of his being the sole candidate of the party.
Though he noted that some members of the National Assembly had earlier adopted him, he said the adoption by the governors came to him like an atomic bomb.
The President said, ‘‘Let me specially thank our governors that initiated that action; though before that, the House had made a similar offer but when the governors come up with a giant sign paper, it was like an atomic bomb.
“I know the media will expect me to say something. I am so overwhelmed that I lack words to express my mind. I will reserve that for an appropriate date that will come.
“But I can only promise members of our party and indeed, Nigerians that for you to have that kind of confidence in me is a big challenge. But I promise I will not disappoint you.
‘‘Adopting me as the sole candidate of our party has bumbled me; I am totally overwhelmed.
‘‘I lack words to express myself. I leave it for another day. For today, for you to have that kind of confidence in me, I am extremely challenged.
“It means that whatever we had done in the past three years, we have to triple it. That is the only way Nigerians will appreciate it. I will not disappoint you.’’
Vice-President, Namadi Sambo; the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha; were among those present at the meeting.
Governors at the meeting were Sullivan Chime (Enugu); Theodore Orji (Abia); Garba Umar (Taraba), Muktar Shagari (deputy governor of Sokoto State); Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe); Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa); Jonah Jang (Plateau); Ramalan Yero (Kaduna); Emmanuel Oduaghan (Delta); Umar Fintiri (Acting governor of Adamawa State); Akpabio Idris Wada (Kogi) and Gabriel Suswan (Benue).
Meanwhile, Mu’azu has begged members of the party to donate during the October 15 fund-raising dinner being organised by the party.
He told the NEC members that the party needed money to prosecute the forthcoming election and to also complete its national secretariat.
“I’m pleading with you all to donate handsomely to enable us to prosecute the forthcoming election and also complete our national secretariat,’’ he pleaded.