SDP says it decided to adopt Buhari as it presidential candidate because of ongoing Duke/Gana spat

NIGERIA'S Social Democratic Party (SDP) has revealed that it decided to jettison its presidential candidate former Cross River State governor Donald Duke and adopt President Muhammadu Buhari because of the ongoing spat within its ranks.


Over the last two months, the SDP has been torn apart over who will be its presidential candidate as the ongoing spat between Governor Duke and former information minister Professor Jerry Gana has torn the party asunder. On December 14, an Abuja federal high court nullified Governor Duke's selection as the SDP's flag bearer after ruling in favour of a suit filed by Professor Gana.


Agreeing with Professor Gana's argument, the court ruled that Governor Duke should not have been elected by the party's October convention as the SDP had zoned the position of presidential candidate to the north. However, the judgement split the SDP as the party's state chairmen refused to recognise Professor Gana as their candidate and have not joined him on campaign rallies across the country.


In a dramatic reversal though, Governor Duke succeeded in reversing the lower court judgement on January 24, as in a unanimous decision by a three-man panel led by Justice Abdul Aboki named him the authentic SDP presidential candidate. Following the decision, the SDP subsequently forwarded Governor Duke’s name to Inec as its presidential candidate.


However, in a dramatic turn earlier this week, the SDP decided not to back either Governor Duke or Professor Gana, adopting President Muhammadu Buhari of the All progressives Congress (APC) as its presidential candidate. According to the party's national executive council, it did so to end the ongoing bickering within its ranks.


SDP director of media and publicity Yemi Akinbode, said the party also suspended its national publicity secretary Alfa Muhammad for stoking division. He added that the SDP was not going into merger with the APC but explained the party’s decision was due to its inability to present a candidate.


Mr Akinbode said: “The National Executive Council of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has resolved to adopt President Muhammadu Buhari and vice president Yemi Osinbajo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as candidates of our party for the 2019 presidential election. Members of the SDP are enjoined to vote for President Buhari at the presidential level only.


“We, therefore, feel that it is imperative to technically withdraw from the presidential election and focus on the National Assembly, governorship and state assembly elections, for which we have fielded candidates across the country. We have also suspended our national publicity secretary Alfa Muhammad, for breaching our constitution by indulging in anti-party activities."