Former military Head of State, retired General Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday emerged winner of the keenly-contested presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as he promised to build a new Nigeria if elected.
Buhari, who will be running for a record fourth time, is set to challenge incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, who got the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket unopposed, in the coming presidential election scheduled for February, 2015.
Buhari polled 3, 430 votes to beat four other contenders with a wide margin.
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Kano State Governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, his Imo State counterpart, Owelle Rochas Okorocha and Leadership Newspapers publisher, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, got 954, 974, 624 and 10 votes respectively.
A total of 6008 votes were cast out of the 7, 214 accredited delegates that converged at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos for the convention.
Declaring the results, Chairman of the National Convention Committee, Dr Kayode Fayemi, said, “It is my esteemed pleasure to reach this historic conclusion of this keenly contested race. Having won the majority votes cast, it is my pleasure and honour to declare Buhari as the winner of the APC presidential primary in preparation for the 2015 general elections.”
In his acceptance speech, Buhari said the outcome of the Presidential primaries is a demonstration of democracy at work.
“What has happened is not about winning or losing, it is about freedom of association. I wish to thank my contenders for putting up a good fight. I extend my gratitude to you for accepting my nomination and I will meet you in due course to fashion out how we will win the election.
“It is with deep sense of humility to be the flag-bearer of the APC. I stand before you and ask that you join me to bring the needed change for this country. It is either we advance as one or we fail together.
“Christians and Muslims, rich and poor, young and old, men and women, we are all citizens of Nigeria. Either we advance as one, or fail altogether.
“We will all join hands to rescue our dear country, Nigeria, from those who have led us to the current state of insecurity, poverty, sectarian divide, and hopelessness among our people,” Buhari stated.
Speaking shortly after the declaration of the results, National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, commended the aspirants for the spirit of sportsmanship exhibited.
“You are very gallant contestants, I congratulate you all,” Oyegun told the contestants.
“You will see this party to Aso Rock, this party will be good to you; as you have been good to the party; we will not forget you all,” he said.
Atiku in his address congratulating Buhari, described him as the man who will bring change to the country. Pointing to Buhari, Atiku said: “See this man, who will change Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.”
He described the election as the most credible, transparent election that has ever been conducted by a political party in the history of Nigeria.
Atiku further congratulated Buhari, describing him as an embodiment of nation building in the country for decades, while assuring the party of his support, stressing that he remains committed to working with the party’s presidential candidate to salvage the country.
Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso while congratulating the winner said: “I want to start by thanking God for making me be part of history. On behalf of myself especially the delegates that voted for me, I want to congratulate the winner of this primary, General Buhari, as we earlier agreed that whoever wins this election, we will work for him. Let me assure you that we will work together for the success of APC at all levels.”
On his part, Okorocha said Buhari’s emergence has signified the end of PDP government. The Imo governor said Buhari will bring development and progress to the nation.
“We have shown that internal democracy can be achieved in a political party,” he said.
Giving reasons why he contested the race, Okorocha said he did so to give the South East a sense of belonging in the party.
“The responsibility falls on the shoulder of General Buhari. I believe it is God and it came to him because he is the oldest of the family and I believe the next one will go to the youngest of the family.
“There wouldn’t have been this competition if all of us have not contested. We have now taught the world that internal democracy can begin in a party,” Okorocha said.
Meanwhile, an impeccable source within the APC, who spoke to Peoples Daily on condition of anonymity, disclosed that already, top notches within the party especially those from the south-west, south-south and south-east zones, have since commenced jostling for people from their zones to be picked as running mate to the presidential candidate.
Among the names prominently being mentioned were Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State; Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Governor of Imo State and former governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Convention Committee, Dr Kayode Fayemi.