LIVE: Jubilation as Tinubu obtains highest votes

Supporters of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, have begun to celebrate after the former governor obtained the highest number of votes in the ongoing APC primary in Abuja.

He obtained over 50 per cent of the total votes cast to outshine his closest contenders, Rotimi Amaechi and Yemi Osinbajo, who got 316 and 235 votes respectively.

The winner is expected to be declared in a few hours.

Fourteen aspirants in the race are Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajuba, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Mr Ahmed Rufai, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Mr Jack Rich, Governor Ben Ayade, Gov. David Umuahi, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Senator Ahmed Yarima, Dr Ahmed Lawan, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, Governor Yahaya Bello and Mr Ogbonnaya Onu.

Nine aspirants had earlier withdrawn from the race including Mrs Uju Kennedy-Ohnenye, Dr Felix Nicholas, former Gov. Godswill Akpabio, former Governor Ibikunle Amosun, former Speaker Dimeji Bankole, Sen. Ajayi Boroffice, Governor Muhammad Badaru, Sen. Ken Nnamani and Governor Kayode Fayemi.

The jubilation got intense after the results of Amaechi and Osinbajo were announced.

Some Tinubu’s supporters have also declared a celebration party on behalf of the presidential aspirant.

Former Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba and Serving Overseer of the Citadel Global Church, Pastor Tunde Bakare, had a poor outing.

While Nwajiuba could only garner one vote, Bakare failed to match his grit with action after he recorded no vote.

Selected members of APC gathered to vote since Tuesday in key primaries to choose a candidate for next year’s election to replace the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

The APC delegates were to elect a candidate to face 75-year-old Atiku Abubakar of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party among others in the February 25 presidential ballot.

Buhari, who is stepping down after the two terms he is allowed in the constitution, had spent the days leading up to the convention in negotiations with the APC’s leaders seeking unity over a party candidate.

“The fate of the party depends on what we do here,” APC party chairman Abdullahi Adamu said, echoing Buhari’s call for unity in the ranks.

“We cannot go into the general election next year without putting our house together.”

Part of the APC’s debate over candidates relates to “zoning” – an unofficial agreement among political elites that Nigeria’s presidency should rotate between those from the predominantly Christian south and those from the largely Muslim north.

After northern Buhari, observers expected the presidency to go to a candidate from the south.

But the PDP – which held its primary on May 28 and 29 – chose Abubakar, a former vice president and a political stalwart who is a northern Muslim.

The opposition’s choice to ignore “zoning” has made the APC reconsider how their candidate will appeal to the north, where voter numbers and participation are traditionally higher.

Buhari, who is the leader of the ruling party, did not declare support for any candidate and instructed APC members to “allow the delegates to decide.”

“Our objective must be the victory of our party and our choice of candidate must be someone who would give the Nigerian masses a sense of victory and confidence even before the elections,” he said last week.

Heavy security was deployed in central Abuja early Tuesday and streets were gridlocked as hundreds of APC supporters wearing the party colours of green, white and red gathered in and around the venue.

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