FORMER governor of Cross Rivers State, Donald Duke, has challenged the stand of his party, Social Democratic Party, SDP, which recently disowned him as their presidential candidate.
The SDP presidential flagbearer insists that he remains on the ballot for the 2019 elections.
Duke made this known in a statement posted on his twitter handle on Friday, reacting to the decision of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party to withdraw from the election and adopt President Muhammadu Buhari as its preferred candidate.
“Regardless and for the avoidance of doubt, I Donald Duke, remain on the ballot and the candidate of the SDP as recognised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“This unfortunate saga is as a result of an aspirant who lost at the party primaries on October 6, 2018, fair and square, does not query the conduct of the primaries but rather resorts to bigotry, querying my suitability to contest for the presidency on grounds that I come from the wrong part of the country.
“The Federal Court of Appeal has put this matter to rest. The office of the president does not belong to any party and therefore not for a party to zone,” the statement reads.
The aspirant being referred to Professor Jerry Gana whom the court has rejected as the legal flagbearer of SDP.
Duke said his motivation to run for the top job was to provide a different option for the voting public.
“My decision to run on an untainted political platform rather than on one which I was a founding member is grounded on a desire to afford the electorate and indeed our nation a clean break, options, and alternatives to her current gladiators.
“For the SDP NEC to thereby endorse the APC or any other party, is rather unfortunate and betrays in my opinion, the desire of the vast majority of our party members and Nigerians credible alternatives to our nation’s leadership.
“I need not say more, suffice that I remain on the ballot and thereby still present myself as a candidate for the office of president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he said.
The SDP NEC had on Thursday announced the party’s withdrawal from the presidential race while adopting Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, as it’s preferred, candidate.
The party’s decision was as a result of legal conundrum associated with the emergence of their presidential candidate.
“We cannot campaign, we cannot do anything because of the protracted legal issue and we feel that it is impeccable to technically withdraw from the presidential election.
“We want to focus on the National Assembly, Governorship and State House of Assemblies election for which we have fielded candidates across the country.
“We are therefore adopting Buhari, the APC Presidential candidate, as our preferred candidate for the Feb. 16 election,” the statement reads.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.