By Ezeocha Nzeh
The Coalition of United Political parties, CUPP, on Wednesday announced the adoption of the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as its candidate for the February 19, 2019 presidential election.
The umbrella body of about 45 major opposition parties, made the disclosure few hours after it entered into a closed door meeting in Abuja
Chairman of the coalition, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola who briefed journalists together with other chairmen and representatives of political parties that made up the CUPP said the former Vice President met all the criteria, which the coalition’s steering and consensus committee demanded from all the members whose parties fielded candidates for the same position, adding that it arrived at the decision based on the candidate’s (Atiku) experience in administration, management of economy and politics.
He declared: “After a painstaking assessment of what we have across the coalition parties and after processing the candidates’ suitability using these criteria, the steering committee hereby submits that a former Vice President and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is the best and his Party the most virile of all the options before us.
“We, therefore, ‘chose him as the CUPP candidate for the 2019 Presidential election,” he said.
The former Governor of Osun State, charged other members of the coalition to urge their various presidential candidates to drop their ambition and key into the campaign team of the coalition’s consensus candidate.
You will recall that at the inauguration of the steering committee of the CUPP, we were saddled with the responsibility to midwife and supervise the selection of a joint presidential candidate for the coalition. “In furtherance of this objective, therefore, the steering committee invited all political parties in the coalition to forward to us memoranda detailing their suggested ideas on how the candidate of the coalition should emerge and the criteria to use.
“The response was very impressive and rich. The steering committee, which as you all know has every coalition party represented in it, distilled the suggestions, the aggregate of which was used to arrive at the result we are about to submit today.
“However, before we go into the results, ladies and gentlemen, it is necessary to first enumerate the identified criteria we used in arriving at the choice of presidential candidate for this coalition. In other words, we graded the candidates of all the parties using these criteria;
“The national acceptability of candidate and party, strength of the structure of candidate and party across the country, competitiveness of the candidate’s party vis a vis our major challenger- the APC.
“Financial strength of candidate and party, access to financial resources, capacity and readiness to prosecute the election across the about 120,000 polling units in the country. “Also, competence, capability, and credibility of the candidate, acceptability of candidate locally and internationally, candidate’s experience in administration, management of economy and politics.
“Ladies and gentlemen, after a painstaking assessment of what we have across the coalition parties and after processing the candidates’ suitability using these criteria, the Steering Committee hereby submits that a former Vice President and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is the best and his party the most virile of all the options before us. We, therefore, ‘chose him as the CUPP candidate for the 2019 Presidential election’”.
Oyinlola also emphasised on the need for the opposition to close their ranks at the State level, if they must defeat the APC, noting that the total number of votes the opposition parties received at the last Osun governorship election would have been more than enough to defeat the candidate of the APC, if they had come together to present a consensus candidate.
“There is, however, the imperative of taking the letter and spirit of our MoU down to the state level. A deep appraisal of the recent governorship election in Osun State will tell any discerning mind that it would have been very difficult for the APC to do what it did if the opposition had presented a common front.
“Indeed, opposition votes combined in the Osun State election, where about 500,000 – almost doubling those of the ruling APC which scored 255,505 votes. So, our suggestion is that whatever we are doing with the presidential ticket should be done in all states for all positions for the good of our people.
“The modalities can be worked out based on the peculiarities and political realities of each state. We must all realise the fact that it is better and wiser to win together than to lose together,” he noted