Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar swept to victory last night in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential primaries, following last minute high wire horse trading masterminded by the northern establishment.
Atiku polled 371 votes to brush aside Rivers State Governor Nyesome Wike, his closest opponent, who had 237 votes.
Former Senate President Bukola Saraki came a distant third with 70 votes, followed by Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel with 38 votes, Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed, 20 votes and a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Pius Anyim, 14 votes.
Others were Nwachukwu Anakwenze who scored two votes, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa one vote and Mrs Tariele Diana Oliver one vote.
Former Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose; Ovation Magazine publisher, Chief Dele Momodu; Mr. Charles Ugwu and Chikwendu Kalu recorded zero vote.
Twelve votes were declared invalid.
Minutes before voting commenced at 8.55pm, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal unexpectedly stepped down and asked his supporters to cast their votes for Atiku.
He said he came to the conclusion to step down following consultations with “so many leaders and my supporters.”
He said: “In view of the situation of our country and the need for us in our party to minimise rancour and jostling for power, in any case, it is not always about an individual; it must always be about our country.
“I have come to the conclusion that to the glory of God Almighty, and from the results of what we are seeing throughout the country – millions of Nigerians suffering, and the need for us to close ranks in the party, and as one of the leaders of this party – I have come to a patriotic conclusion to step down my aspiration.
“Not only that, I would appeal to my supporters to take this in good strides and in the interest of national unity and patriotism, and not only that, those who are delegates here should vote for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.”
The former vice president took to his Twitter handle to thank Tambuwal for his gesture.
“Thank you, H.E @AWTambuwal, for your spirited campaign. I look forward to working with you as we unite our party and our country,” he said.
Moments after he was declared winner of the primaries, Atiku promised to focus on rebuilding and uniting the country if voted into office.
“Today, the march to rebuild and unite our great country moves forward. I am honoured to be named the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),” he wrote on Twitter.
“I look forward to speaking with Nigerians across the country, taking the message of hope and unity as we build one future for one people.”
He pledged to restore the PDP to power.