In what seems to be a major twist in political calculations in in Nigeria’s ruling party ahead of its presidential primaries scheduled for December 6, 2014, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has adopted President Goodluck Jonathan as its sole candidate for the 2015 election.
The National Executive Committee, NEC, of the party took the decision Thursday at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.
The position follows a similar decision by the PDP governors’ forum and the party’s Board of Trustees, BOT. The two organs had earlier endorsed the president on Wednesday.
President Jonathan, his deputy, Namadi Sambo; Senate President, David Mark; his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha were among those present at the meeting.
It was also attended by majority of the governors, including the Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, a governor believed to be nursing presidential ambition in 2015.
The decision means no candidate, except Mr. Jonathan, can seek to contest the 2015 presidential election on the platform of the PDP.
At Thursday’s meeting, the governor of Niger state, Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, who was first to speak, told the meeting that all PDP governors had in their meeting on Wednesday “unanimously without any reservation decided to endorse the sole candidature of President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 election”.
Mr. Aliyu also called on the Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido, to stand up and recognise the decision of the governors.
Lamido was said to have stood up and nodded his head in agreement with his Niger State colleague. The decision to endorse Jonathan as its sole candidate ahead of next year’s presidential election seems to have put paid to the Jigawa State governor’s ambition.
A spokesperson of the BoT, Shuaibu Oyedokun, also informed the NEC that the board, regarded as the conscience of the party, has also unanimously adopted Mr. Jonathan as the PDP’s sole candidate.
In a brief remark, the Senate President, David Mark, informed the gathering that if there is any arm of government that is interested in continuity, it is the legislature.
“At the PDP Caucus of the National Assembly, we have decided that a sitting and performing president should be given a chance to continue to perform even better,” Mr. Mark said.
The motion for the adoption of Mr. Jonathan was moved by the former national chairman of the party, Bello Haliru.
In his speech, Mr. Haliru said the PDP had an important decision to take, arguing that “we have never taken a wrong decision before”.
“We cannot change a winning formula that has been working for us since 1999,” he said. “In PDP we have a tradition of queuing up behind our leaders. President Jonathan has performed creditably well as attested to by all the organs of the party.
“Therefore, for the good of Nigeria and for the good work that the PDP is doing for the country, I move that the NEC endorse the candidature of President Goodluck Jonathan as the party’s candidate in the 2015 election,” Mr. Haliru said.
The motion was seconded by a former governor of old Anambra state, Jim Nwobodo.
Thereafter, the national Chairman of the party, Adamu Muazu, put the question to members who unanimously agreed that the Mr. Jonathan be retained as the sole candidate of the party for the 2015 election.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan has accepted the decision of his party leaders, saying he was humbled by the endorsement as the sole candidate by all the organs of the PDP.
Reacting to the development, Jonathan who expressed his joy, promised not to disappoint the party, his supporters and Nigerians in general.
His words: “Let me really say that the events of yesterday, starting with BoT meeting last night and what has just happened today, with the various motions adopting me as sole candidate of the party has really humbled me.
“Let me specially thank our governors that initiated that action, let me thank members of BoT, let me thank the Senate President and members of the National Assembly, let me appreciate the PDP women for their position and the NEC, because no matter whatever anybody does, if not the NEC, you will be on your own.
”Adopting me as the sole candidate of the party has humbled me; I am totally overwhelmed. When the governors came up in a jointly signed paper, though House of Representatives started it, governors’ intervention was like an atomic bomb, I commend all departments of the NEC.
“I am so overwhelmed that I lack words to express myself. I leave it for another day. For today, for you to have that kind of confidence, I am extremely challenged. It means that whatever we had done in the past three years, we triple it. That is the only way Nigerians will appreciate it. I promise I will not disappoint you”.