Cablegate: Nigeria: Pdp National Convention Selects Obasanjo

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O.12958: N/A

REF: (A) Abuja 0015
- (B) Abuja 0008


1. (U) In a repeat of the ruling PDP's 1999 convention,
Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo defeated Alex Ekwueme to
become its presidential candidate, receiving 2,642 of an
estimated 3,579 votes cast (74 percent) in the first round. The
former Vice President came in a distant second with 661 votes.
Second Republic Kano State Governor Abubakar Rimi trailed with
159, and former PDP national Chairman Barnabas Gemade brought up
the rear with 17.

2. (SBU) However, the final tally did not reflect the pre-voting
tension. Compared with the anxious excitement of Friday and
Saturday, the actual gathering of the delegates at Eagle square
and the voting were anti-climatic. The atmosphere was subdued,
having none of the electricity usually associated with a hard-
fought convention. This could be partially attributed to the
exhaustion of the delegates and contestants; many had had only a
few hours of sleep the last several nights. However, the
primary reason for this languor was that, although the
nomination had been hard fought, the battle did not continue to
the convention floor. By this morning, most of the errant
governors had been pulled back into the fold and Atiku, perhaps
tempted, never really strayed. Despite the suspense of the last
two days, the final results reflected what we predicted before
the convention. Despite the unpopularity of the President among
the delegates, the power of incumbency and control of the party
machinery ultimately proved decisive. Still Obasanjo was forced
to politick and was perhaps given a preview of how tough the
general election might be.

3. (SBU) Because the voting had turned into a virtual no-
contest, the process ended with a first round victory. However,
balloting consumed almost ten hours and was followed by a
tedious five-hour vote count. The final announcement of
Obasanjo's victory echoed across a nearly empty Eagle Square,
with almost none of the state delegates still around. About two
hundred of Obasanjo's staff and supporters were on hand for the
announcement, along with the remnants of a special 3,200-person
security presence and a few vendors looking to sell their wares.

4. (U) Note: Press reports give the delegate count as 3,349;
late additions and accreditation irregularities likely account
for the difference, and then some. A few state delegations were
smaller than reported (e.g., Abia had 95 delegates instead of
100), so the total delegates added on Friday and Saturday
probably exceeded 230. Even if 250 fewer delegates committed to
Obasanjo had been present (3329 instead of 3579 total
delegates), Obasanjo would have polled 2392 and achieved an easy
first-round victory.


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