The efforts of the Peoples Democratic Party to get presidential candidates of political parties under the Coalition of United Political Parties to withdraw for the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, have run into a hitch.
Investigation by our correspondent on Saturday revealed that the expected withdrawal might no longer hold as the time for the withdrawal of candidates as contained in the guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission had elapsed.
Sequel to the endorsement of Atiku by the CUPP, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, had, in an interview with our correspondent, said the PDP would not only rest on the endorsement of Atiku by the CUPP but would do its best to get the CUPP presidential candidates to formally withdraw for Atiku.
However, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, while reacting to the withdrawal of the presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, said Ezekwesili’s withdrawal from the presidential race violated Section 35 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which states that a candidate can only be allowed to withdraw not later than 45 days to the election.
Ologbondiyan, however, said though the deadline by INEC for withdrawal had expired, the candidates could still direct their supporters to vote for Atiku.
Ologbondiyan said, “We believe it is possible for the CUPP presidential candidates that their parties adopted Atiku. It is a matter of the mind . Politics is not all about INEC. We have supporters, we have followers.
“Once you withdraw and you direct your followers to go in the particular direction, that stands. So if INEC likes, let them keep the person’s name on the ballot paper, it does not change the instruction you have given to your followers or your supporters.”
The National Publicity Secretary of the Social Democratic Party, Alfa Mohammed, said though the SDP started the process of Atiku’s adoption with other CUPP members, the party was not happy with the process of the adoption.
He added that since the SDP was no longer part of the CUPP, withdrawal of presidential candidates did not apply to it.
He also said the SDP did not reach any accord with Atiku, adding that the party had withdrawn from the CUPP.
Mohammed said, “We are not part of the CUPP. We have not reached any accord with Atiku. So, the question of withdrawing does not affect us because we have withdrawn from the CUPP. That arrangement is for people who are in the CUPP. So that directive does not include parties that are not in the CUPP.”
The National Publicity Secretary of the Africa Democratic Congress, Mrs. Yemi Kolapo, said she was not sure whether the ADC presidential candidate, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, formally withdrew or not.
She, however, said whether there was a formal withdrawal or not, ADC stood by Atiku’s adoption.