Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has been declared the winner of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential primary.
The PDP flagbearer for the 2023 presidential election is a 75-year-old who is on his sixth attempt for the nation’s top job.
He was also the PDP’s candidate in the last election in 2019, which he lost to President Muhammadu Buhari.
To win the PDP’s 2023 ticket, Atiku had to beat the likes of Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, Akwa Ibom Governor, Udom Emmanuel and former Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
Before voting commenced on Friday at the primary election in Abuja, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal stepped down for Atiku, a move that strengthened the Adamawa politician’s bid for the ticket.
Mr Atiku scored 371 votes. His closest challenger, Wike, polled 237 votes. Saraki pulled 70 votes.
Emmanuel (38), Mohammed (38), Anyim Pius Anyim (14), Mrs Tari Diana Oliver (1) and Sam Ohuabunwa (1) shared the remainder of the valid votes.
In his victory speech, Atiku commended the electoral process employed in the primary.
“Today we are making another history,” he said.
“A history which we believe will bring about fundamental changes and also in our political processes.”
He reiterated that his campaign will be built on five fundamentals, including a pledge to unify the country.
“I pledge to unify this country,” he said. “That’s why I refer to myself as a unifier.
“The reason why I feel that unity is important is because APC has disunited Nigerians completely.
“I will work to restore unity and bring a sense of belonging to all Nigerians.”
Mr Atiku vowed to decisively deal with the country’s security challenges and confront its economic problems.
“The PDP made Nigeria one of the most prosperous countries in Africa,” he said. “We implemented economic reforms. The APC wiped out all those gains.”
He also called on his fellow contestants to work and cooperate with him.
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar waves as he arrives at the venue of the PDP presidential primary in Abuja, on Saturday.
The presidential primary, which was held at the Velodrome of the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja, sprung to life before midday on Saturday as party delegates began to troop in.
Udom Emmanuel was one of the first presidential aspirants to arrive and others soon followed.
Although the Convention had been scheduled to begin at 10am, proceedings did not commence until late evening.
Party leaders who spoke to Channels Television were upbeat about the success of the election, vowing to take back the country from the ruling APC.
Signs that Atiku would emerge as the flagbearer surfaced after Adamawa State Governor Umaru Fintiri revealed that Mohammed Hayatu-Deen had stepped down for the former Vice President.
Hayatu-Deen, one of the presidential aspirants, announced earlier that he was exiting the race but did not say he was supporting any particular candidate.
After the National Anthem was sung, all 14 aspirants were given the opportunity to address the delegates for a maximum of five minutes.
Atiku went first, following an alphabetical order while Wike, his eventual closest challenger, spoke last.
But the big twist of the primary came after the speeches, when voting was about to commence.
Tambuwal, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives and North-West politics stalwart, stepped on the podium and announced he was stepping down for Atiku.
“I have come to the conclusion – to the glory of God Almighty, seeing millions of Nigerians suffering and the need for us to close ranks in the party and as one of the leaders in this party – I have come to a patriotic conclusion to step down my aspiration,” Tambuwal said, to amid cheers and applause.
“And not only that, I have appealed to my supporters to take this in good strides and for national unity and patriotism – not only that, those who are delegates here – should vote for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.”
Before the primary election, there were indication that Atiku would choose Governor Wike as his running mate.