If money was to determine the results of APC presidential primary elections of the 2014, Buhari would likely have emerged in the third position in the election results. I was practically involved in the exercise having been selected as one of the electoral officials from Ekiti State. I saw everything as it played out in the two-day presidential primaries, and I can bring about a notch of fact out of the keenly contested exercise.
As we arrived at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere- Lagos, it was practically difficult for anyone to tell if indeed Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, rtd was actually a contestant in that election as there was virtually no sign to indicate his participation at the expansive stadium. No posters of his nor a dedicatedly designed Buhari’s souvenirs anywhere around the precinct of the stadium. Everywhere was dotted with Atiku Abubakar’s posters and souvenirs, followed by that of Kwankwanso. One could also notice the exchange of cash particularly in dollars to do the job and give the winner to the highest bidder at the end of the exercise.
Yes there was a man at the centre of the whole elections whose integrity was about to be put to test. Dr. Kayode Fayemi had before then been appointed as the chairman of the 24-member National Convention Planning Committee whose sole responsibility was to conduct a credible, transparent and acceptable presidential primary election. Will Fayemi kiss the dollar and throw his integrity into the lagoon was the major slang parading the minds of some of us?
However, the then National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Oyegun was optimistic that Dr. Kayode Fayemi and his team would do a perfect job…. “haven’t found the choice of its chairman particularly difficult and agonising.”
“I want to say that you have been selected after a lot of agonising and debate, because of the need to conduct a well acceptable primary election that will at the end produce our party flag bearer. We need to have people who truly believe in change and by the way organise and conduct credible and transparent primaries that will be acceptable to all, ” Chief Oyegun said.
The two-day presidential primaries (Wednesday, December 10 and Thursday, December 11,2014) came to a close at about 5:32 p.m, and General Muhammadu Buhari won by landslide (with 57.09 % of the votes cast). Dr. Rabiu Kwankwanso came second while Atiku Abubakar with all his intimidating presence at the election, emerged in the third position.
While officially declaring Buhari the winner of the exercise, the Chief Returning Officer, Dr Kayode Fayemi said “at the close of voting and counting, we have received the comprehensive vote of the exercise.”
Fayemi expressed delight that “it is my esteemed pleasure to reach this historic conclusion of this keenly contested race. Having won the majority of votes cast, it is my pleasure and honour to declare Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the APC presidential primaries in preparation for the 2015 presidential election. All our aspirants have proved to be champions in this race.”
On his own, Oyegun, the APC chairman, however, commended the convention planning committee headed by Dr. Kayode Fayemi for a job well done while he also saluted the courage and integrity of the committee.
In his acceptance speech, winner of the presidential primaries, Buhari commended the convention planning committee for their integrity. He said “the outcome of the presidential primaries is a demonstration of democracy at work. What has happened is not about winning or losing but about freedom of association. I wish to thank my contenders for putting up a good fight….
Remember brethren, that election was adjudged both nationally and internationally to be the best presidential primary elections ever conducted in the history of Nigeria. No other man made it possible than the Ogbonge man Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who looked away and refused to do the biddings of the political merchandise even when dollars were chasing him all over the stadium.
What played out in 2014 will definitely repeat itself in 2022 when the bull shall find it very difficult even with his wealth in politics to defeat the proverbial toad in a race of who is the fastest.
My name is Adl and I wrote this piece under my tent in Ado Ekiti, Nigeria.