Our attention has been drawn to the statement issued by Dr. Ike Neliaku, the Consultant to the Prof Jerry Gana’s campaign group, to challenge the emergence of His Excellency Donald Duke as the Presidential Candidate of the Party in the recently concluded Primaries.
The Party notes that Dr. Neliaku’s references to the SDP Constitution were premature and misplaced and frowns at recent misrepresentations by his statements that protests against South-South candidates’ participation were raised by him or by his boss before or during the screening exercise. This is outright false and grossly misleading.
The party has also noted that as soon as Dr Neliaku, Prof Jerry Gana’s Consultant, realised that hanging on the SDP Constitution to disqualify Mr. Duke does not hold water, he resorted to attempting to discredit the entire exercise by raising fathom irregularities. This is unwarranted.
Dr. Neliaku has been advised to desist from these negative acts and has been encouraged to join the Social Democratic Party by registering as a valid Party member so he may transcend the role of Campaign Consultant for Primaries that have ended to join forces with progressive elements for national action plan to rescue and rebuild Nigeria.
The Party fully understands the enormity of the task ahead to salvage Nigeria and that to move Nigeria forward everyone matters. Therefore, the Party does not intend to join issues with Prof Gana, but it is important to set the records straight in the public interest and in the face of misrepresentations by Dr. Neliaku as stated below:
1. His Excellency Donald Duke emerged the presidential candidate of the party after being duly screened by the presidential primaries committee and validly elected by delegates at the national convention of the SDP which took place in Abuja on Saturday, October 6, 2018.
2. The current cry to “screen him out” or “disqualify him” was not raised during the process of expression of interest, screening and the presidential primaries but until after the results of the Primaries were announced. There were two aspirants from the South-South Zone and three aspirants from the North Central Zone. His Excellency, Donald Duke was the first person to submit the nomination form at a widely publicised event and no one ever protested until he won the Primaries. In fact, all the four other contestants including Professor Jerry Gana actively participated in all the preliminary and final stages of the presidential primaries and Social Democratic Party did not issue any statement directing its members to vote for or against any presidential aspirant from any particular geographic zone.
3. In truth, upon the success of Mr Duke at the primaries, Prof Gana congratulated, hugged him and wished him well and afterwards, Mr Duke reached out to all aspirants, including Prof Gana for their support, advice and collaboration.
4. The Party understands that Prof Gana was very disappointed by the outcome of the Primaries and had sent a high-ranking delegation headed by the National Chairman of the Party, Chief Olu Falae to visit and explain to him, to assuage his feelings and appreciate his contributions to the Party.
5. The SDP and its leaders duly appreciate the significant contributions that the elder statesman, Prof Gana has put to the development of the Party since he joined six months ago. Above all, they had privately and publicly appreciated the tremendous contributions that he has made to Nigeria over the last 45 years as Professor of Geography, quintessential public officer, Distinguished Senator, MAMSER Director General, three-time Honourable Minister of the Federal Republic and member of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples’ Democratic Party.
6. The Party has reaffirmed that His Excellency Donald Duke was duly elected and he is the Presidential Candidate of the Party and his name and that of his Running Mate have been forwarded to INEC accordingly.
7. The primary election which produced the candidate of the party is the finest example of representative democracy at work. The party members had spoken. They freely chose who they wanted as their flag bearer in the general election and we urge Prof Gana’s Campaign Consultant, Dr. Ike Neliaku to respect the wishes of the people and recall the principle of Volenti non fit iniuria, which states that one who knowingly and voluntarily consents to and takes on a risk cannot ask for compensation for the damage or injury resulting from it.
Let’s Join forces. Everyone matters
. Hon. Akinbode is the Ag. Director, Media and Publicity of the Social Democratic Party.