The election of Atiku Abubakar as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in 2019 was a fair and transparent exercise which no aspirants would challenge, two PDP senators said.
Dino Melaye and Isa Misau, from Kogi and Bauchi respectively, both supported Senate President Bukola Saraki in the primary. They said the transparent manner of the exercise would help keep the PDP united going into 2019.
“We expect everybody to line up behind the candidate now and chase the disaster that is APC and Buhari government out,” Mr Melaye said.
“This is a key victory for not only the PDP but also Nigeria because the APC should now know that their days in office are numbered,” Mr Misau also said.
Both senators spoke with journalists shortly after Mr Abubakar was declared winner of the election with 1,532 votes.
Atiku defeated Governor Aminu Tambuwal and Senate President Bukola Saraki, who polled 693 and 317 respectively, to secure second and third places.
Messrs Melaye and Misau were at the convention to support Mr Saraki, who joined the race considerably late but soon emerged a frontrunner in the days leading up to the exercise.
Mr Misau said the exercise was transparent, and he does not see anyone challenging the outcome.
“This is a very transparent convention, everything was done in a very civil and effective way that no one would bother challenging it,” the senator told our correspondent.
Fears that the aspirants may not unite behind the eventual nominee gripped the PDP ahead of the primaries, which reportedly prompted party to compel candidates to enter into an accord declaring they would support the candidate.
Mr Abubakar now has President Muhammadu Buhari as his main challenger in 2019, a race many Nigerians expect to be competitive.
Mr Melaye said Mr Abubakar should see the race as a cakewalk.
“The president has nothing to run on,” Mr Melaye said. “He will be disgraced by Nigerians at the polls next year.”
He told journalists he could guarantee that Mr Abubakar would win Kogi State next February.
“The race will not even be close, the people of Kogi have suffered the incompetence of this government enough,” he said.
Mr Misau said Mr Abubakar is from the North-east, and would easily win in tthat region.
“The former vice president is from the North-east in the core North, so you should expect him to clear that region, especially when he is running against a poor incumbent like Buhari,” he said.
Mr Buhari picked his party’s nomination ticket yesterday in an exercise that was essentially planned to formalise his candidacy, having emerged the sole contender for the ruling party’s ticket since announcing his intention to seek reelection in April.
While accepting the nomination, the president railed against the PDP, Nigeria’s main opposition, for running the country aground during its control of the centre, an affliction he said he has been trying to correct since 2015.