The 3073 delegates that gathered in Abuja for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national convention yesterday ratified President Goodluck Jonathan’s endorsement as the party’s sole presidential candidate.
With the ratification, President Jonathan would fly the flag of the PDP against whoever the opposition would be fielding to vie for the office of the president in next year’s polls.
Jonathan’s main contenders in 2011 were retired General Muhammadu Buhari, then of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Nuhu Ribadu of then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Ibrahim Shekarau of the now defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
The PDP, since September, endorsed President Jonathan as its sole candidate though two other aspirants later came out to buy forms to contest against him but later withdrew from the race.
The race for the presidential ticket of the PDP was without the usual suspense and excitement that accompanies such exercises.
Officials of the party later explained that other aspirants have withdrawn from the race leaving only President Jonathan.
Deputy convention chairman Senator Ken Nnamani told the delegates that Section 133 of the Constitution has stipulated the procedure of casting ballots even when there is one candidate standing for an election.
Nnamani who was former President of the Senate, said three vacancies would be filled in the National Working Committee (NWC) while only one aspirant was seeking nomination as the party’s presidential candidate.
“Two people bought presidential nomination forms but they realised the need to give the President a chance, and also so as not to divide the party, they willingly, voluntarily decided to support a single candidate,” Nnamani added.
Abdul-Jhalil Tafawa Balewa and Prof. Akasoba Duke Abiola had bought forms to contest for the presidential ticket of the PDP.
He said space was provided in the ballot papers to vote either “yes “ or no.”
Voting by the delegates for the ratification of the appointment into the NWC started around 6.15pm on state-by-state basis.
President Jonathan cast his vote when it was the turn of his home state, Bayelsa to do so.
The convention also ratified the election of three national officers of the party who were appointed and had been functioning in acting capacities.
They are the National Chairman, Alhaji Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu, National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo and National Auditor, Adewole Adeyanju.
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo, who was also a delegate to the convention was absent at the occasion.
President Jonathan, also a delegate to the convention arrived the Eagle Square venue of the event at about 3.45 p.m.
Vice President Namadi Sambo, President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) and the PDP National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu were among the delegates at the convention.
Chairman of the national convention committee, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed, in his welcome address intimated the delegates on the purpose of the convention and enjoined them to be orderly.