The opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Thursday formally announced its decision to support the re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The party said that the SDP/APC alliance became necessary given the lingering legal feud that has rocked SDP over the choice of its presidential candidate for the February 16 election.
The decision was announced by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party after a marathon meeting in Abuja.
The national chairman of SDP, Chief Olu Falae, who was conspicuously absent, was however represented at the all-important NEC meeting by the party’s deputy national chairman (South), Prof. Tunde Adeniran.
Newsmen report that a contender for the SDP presidential ticket, Prof. Jerry Gana, is challenging the emergence of Mr. Donald Duke as the party’s presidential candidate after the latter emerged winner of the presidential primaries in December 2018.
The party in a statement issued after the NEC meeting by its Director of Media and Publicity, Hon. Yemi Akinbode, a copy of which was obtained by newsmen, said that SDP took the stand to support President Buhari after it was discovered that the party cannot make any impact in the presidential race having lost quality campaign time to the ongoing litigation.
The party also said that its inability to present and campaign for a presidential candidate due to the lingering legal battle between a former governor of Cross River State, His Excellency Donald Duke, and the winner of the SDP presidential primaries and his major challenger, a former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana, contributed to the decision to endorse Buhari.
He added that with only nine days to the presidential election, and with a pending appeal on the SDP presidential ticket before the Supreme Court filed by Prof. Gana, a case for which no date has been fixed for hearing, “the presidential aspiration of the party can best be described as a mission impossible.”
“We cannot campaign, we cannot do anything because of the protracted legal tussle that has rocked the party. We, therefore, feel that it is imperative to technically withdraw from the presidential election and focus on the National Assembly, governorship and state assemblies elections, for which we have fielded candidates across the country,” the party said.
A source told our reporter that the legal battle has resulted into disenchantment for Mr. Duke, who has exhibited unwillingness to continue with the race, adding that Prof. Gana’s eventual victory at the apex court will neither make any difference since the presidential election is just days away.
SDP also noted that its choice of the ruling APC for an alliance is predicated on the fact that both parties are in sync on topical issues of restructuring, fight against corruption and security of lives.
It would be recalled that Gana had approached an Abuja High Court for some injunctive reliefs, from which he was declared the SDP presidential candidate on December 14, 2018.
Consequently, Duke appealed the Abuja High Court’s ruling, which declared Gana as the SDP candidate, and won as the Court of Appeal overturned Gana’s victory on January 22, 2019 and affirmed Duke as the duly elected presidential candidate of the SDP.
But Gana has also approached the Supreme Court a few days ago at a time Nigerians had thought the storm was over for the party with the Court of Appeal ruling.