It is still unclear what is happening in the Social DemocraticParty (SDP), but the National Executive Council (NEC) has adopted President Muhammadu Buhari for next week’s presidential election. The party chairman, Chief Olu False, was absent at the meeting.
But its presidential candidate, Donald Duke, in a statement last night insisted he remained the candidate of the party, notwithstanding the Nexus adoption.
Duke was declared the presidential candidate of the party last month by the court of appeal in Abuja which set aside the judgment of a high court declaring Jerry Gana, former information minister, as the party’s presidential flagbearer. Duke actually won the party primaries and was declared winner last year before the high court upturned his victory and gave it to Gana.
Duke spoke even as a source close to Prof. Gana said on Thursday its group will address journalists on Friday on its position which he said is at variance with SDP NEC position.
In his statement titled, The Social Democratic Party and the state of play, Duke said:
“This afternoon, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Social Democrats Party (SDP) came up with a decision to endorse the APC and its candidate, President Mohammadu Buhari for the February 16th Presidential election. This decision has arisen according to the party, as a result of protracted legal squabbles within the party which has made the party unable to commence a decent campaign.
“Regardless and for the avoidance of doubt, I Donald Duke, remain on the ballot and the candidate of the SDP as recognized by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“This unfortunate saga, is as a result of an aspirant who lost at the party primaries on the 6th of October fair and square, does not query the conduct of the primaries but rather resorts to bigotry, querying my suitability to contest for the presidency on grounds that I come from “the wrong part of the country”. The Federal Court of Appeal has put this matter to rest. The office of President and any constitutional office for that matter, does not belong to any party and therefore not for a party to zone. What is more worrisome for our nascent party is its inability to reign in its members, particularly sore losers. Internal management of party affairs has been the bane of our democracy.
“My decision to run on an untainted political platform rather than on one which I was a founding member, is grounded on a desire to afford our electorate and indeed our nation a clean break, options and alternatives to her current gladiators. For the SDP NEC to thereby endorse the APC or any other party, is rather unfortunate and betrays in my opinion, the desire of the vast majority of our party members and Nigerians credible alternatives to our nation’s leadership. I need not say more, suffice that I remain on the ballot and thereby still present myself as a candidate for the office of President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Thank you and look forward to your endorsement on the 16th of February 2019.”
But a faction loyal to a former Minister of Information, Prof Jerry Gana, had Wednesday dissociated itself from the move by the NEC.
The source from Gana’s group hinted that he strongly doubted that the party leader, Chief Olu False, is part of the endorsement of Buhari.
On Wednesday, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Alfa Mohammed, in a statement said, “It has come to the attention of the loyal National Working Committee members of our great party, the SDP, that a few persons within the party hierarchy are busy shopping for a presidential candidate to adopt on behalf of our party.”
He revealed that the soul of the party remained in the hands of those he called “SDP Patriots” led by Gana.
Mohammed said the party would not have found itself in a tight corner if the National Chairman, Chief Olu Falae; and the National Secretary, Alhaji Shehu Gabam, had heeded wise counsel by majority of the National Working Committee members against appealing the judgment of the Federal Capital Territory High Court which gave the party ticket to Gana.
He said Gana remained the only person that could give SDP members the direction to follow during the presidential election.
SDP NEC, however, said its adoption of Buhari does not meaning it is merging with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).