The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja yesterday Thursday, 24th January declared former governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke, as the authentic presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party, (SDP) in next month’s election.
The three-man appeal panel, led by Justice Abdul Aboki, unanimously set aside the December 14, 2018 judgement of the high court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which had declared Jerry Gana as the candidate of the party.
Duke emerged as SDP’s candidate at the presidential primaries held on October 7, 2018.
Gana, a former Minister of Information, who contested the ticket with Duke, challenge the primary result at the Federal High Court in Abuja. The high court presided over by Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf declared Gana as the rightful SDP candidate and directed the party to forward his name to INEC.
The SDP however did not forward Gana’s name to the electoral umpire because of the challenge in the appeal court. When INEC published the list of 73 presidential candidates last week, the SDP had none.
With yesterday’s appeal court judgement, what are the options before Donald Duke? Will INEC accept his candidature with just three weeks to the presidential election?
It is clear that the SDP shot itself in the foot with all the balancing act it was trying to impose on its members.
By mid-2018, SDP could almost be regarded as the Number 3 party in Nigeria, after the ruling APC and main opposition PDP. In the South-West, it has provided credible opposition and alternative to the two main parties. Oyo, Osun and Ogun States are key battlegrounds where SDP could be said to stump almost shoulder to shoulder with the two big boys.
With Olu Falae from the south as Chairman, the party big wigs felt their presidential candidate should come from the north to effect a balance, hence their opting for Gana when it was clear Duke had won their presidential primary.
The burden on Donald Duke is huge.
If INEC approves his name on the ballot, should he accept? With the appeal court case going on, he had hardly had time to campaign. No posters, debates or anything. There are those who believe Duke would have given some of the debate candidates a run for their money. Instead, the debate groups ignored him because of the appeal.
A brilliant man he is but how much can he achieve in three weeks, when the others with larger war chests have been on the airwaves, posters, billboards, social media and newspapers, not to talk of presence of the campaign trail and political rallies?
Or should Donald Duke do an ‘Oby Ezekwesili’ and drop out while his name hasn’t reached INEC?
A good man he definitely is but it doesn’t look like ‘good’ is a proper description for a candidate to win elections these days.
Unlike his American namesake Donald Trump, Donald Duke may just only end up as the ‘good’ presidential candidate we never had!
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