By Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole
The Forum of State Chairmen of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), have said that they will continue to respect the decision of majority of delegates of the party that overwhelmingly elected Mr. Donald Duke as presidential candidate of the party.
Addressing the media at its national secretariat in Abuja on Tuesday, the leader of the group, Hon. Oke Idawene argued that the recent court judgment took the party’s presidential ticket from Duke and gave it to Professor Jerry Gana was due to the court’s misinterpretation of Section 15:3 of the party’s constitution 2018 as amended.
Idawene who insisted that the party was not divided, expressed confidence that members of the SDP will abide by the decision of National Executive Committee (NEC). He said that after reviewing the judgment, they discovered that the Judge read what was not in the constitution of the SDP. And that section 15:3 talks about the office of the President and that of that National Chairman.
“We have reviewed the ruling of Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf which nullified the election of Mr. Donald Duke as the presidential candidate of SDP in line with the Provisions of Article 15:3(ii) of the Constitution of the SDP 2018 as (amended). And we wish to state that the judgement has no basis considering the fact that, the court has no locus standi to deny and scuttle the inalienable right of a presidential flag bearer who was duly elected and returned as the party’s candidate. It is a well-known fact, and it is also provided for in the electoral Act that a party’s decision on the choice of a candidate is above and supreme to any other claim. Thus, the party has a constitutional prerogative for final decision on such matters.
The Crux of the Matter is Article 15:3(ii)(2) of the Constitution of Social Democratic Party (SDP) 2018 as amended: Rotation and Zoning; which states, “the office of the President and National Chairman of Party shall rotate between the South and North and among the six (6) geopolitical zones. This is the article which the court misinterpreted. What the overwhelming majority of delegates did on the 6th of October, 2018 was to elect our Presidential Candidate. We did not elect a President, otherwise the only logical consequence of Friday’s Abuja High Court decision would be that Professor Jerry Gana be sworn in as President of Nigeria on 29th May 2019,” he said.
Speaking further he said that, “The Forum of SDP State Party Chairmen based on the above provision and clarification will pursue to a logical conclusion the mandate given to us by thousands of party members from the 36 states of Nigeria including Abuja. We hereby reject the Abuja High Court’s ruling against the wish and mandate of the party’s delegates who willingly and overwhelmingly handed the mandate of the people to Donald Duke at the October 6th, 2018 presidential convention of the party as required by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Other top officials of the SDP who represented their geo-political zones at the meeting with journalists were, Delta state chairman, Hon. Abubakar Dogara, Secretary Mr. Bello Ado Hussaini, Kano state chairman, Hon. Danlami Musa, Nasarawa state, Chief. Kunle Majekodunmi, chairman Ogun state, Hon. Austin Ifuma-Nweze, chairman Ebonyi state.