2019 Elections: How PACT crumbled before and after Fela Durotoye beat Moghalu to emerge consensus candidate

How Durotoye beat Moghalu, divide PACT coalition

PACT was formed by 18 presidential aspirants, now there are only nine left after just one month.

On July 31, 2018, 18 presidential aspirants from a handful of parties met and resolved to form a strong coalition and support a consensus candidate for the 2019 presidential election.

Identified as Presidential Aspirants Coming Together (PACT), the aspirants, made up of young politically-inexperienced individuals, promised to work together and liberate Nigeria from its current crop of seasoned politicians who have been tagged perennial failures.

The aspirants initially involved in the coalition included Fela Durotoye, Kingsley Moghalu, Yele Sowore, Thomas-Wilson Ikubese, Ahmed Buhari, Tope Fasua, and Sina Fagbenro-Byron.

Others are Eragbe Anslem, Jaye Gaskia, Mathias Tsado, Victor Ani-Laju, Alistair Soyode, Godstime Sidney Iroabuchi, Clement Jimbo, Elishama Ideh, Ayodele Favor Oluwamuyiwa, and Felix Nicholas.

A month after that July meeting, PACT appears to have been brought down to its knees before it can even spread its wings.

An early setback

When the initial meeting took place last month, Sahara Reporters publisher, Sowore, did not yet have a political party to launch his ambition.

That soon changed two weeks later when his African Action Congress (AAC) was registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Even though it's unclear when Sowore pulled out of PACT, his Take It Back movement explained that it was for well-considered reasons.

Most prominent among those reasons was the fact that some of the aspirants involved with PACT are members of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) which already formed a Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) with 38 other parties to achieve the same aim as PACT.

"We note that several of the members of PACT belong to CUPP or are members of the PDP. As a movement, we cannot commit to a process that would require that our movement should support ANY candidate with direct or indirect ties to the PDP," an official statement read.

Take It Back also disclosed that its suggestion to the PACT coalition to allow the Nigerian people to participate in the selection of a consensus candidate, instead of a handful of aspirants, was rejected.

The movement also expressed reservations about the fact that a potential consensus candidate needed to have a formidable level of support, structure and organization that's lacking in some of PACT's participants. Sowore's movement noted that it had started forming a different coalition with several other parties that better match its vision for the country.

On Thursday, August 30, 2018, which was the day PACT was scheduled to elect its consensus candidate, it was revealed that a total of five aspirants, including Sowore, had dropped out.

And then there were 13.

Election day crisis

On Thursday, of the 13 aspirants that were left in the PACT coalition, Durotoye, a leadership expert, was elected as the consensus candidate to contest in the 2019 presidential election.

The process that led to Durotoye's victory, even though adjudged to be free, fair, and credible, was riddled with controversy.

Before voting commenced at all, two aspirants, including Ahmed Buhari of the PDP, pulled out of the alliance, leaving only 11 aspirants to contest.

The aspirants that were left standing at this point were Moghalu, Ikubese, Durotoye, Fagbenro-Byron, Tsado, Oluwamuyiwa, Ani-Laju, Iroabuchi, Jimbo, Ideh and Nicholas.

In the first stage of voting, each aspirant was allowed to vote for any of the other 10 aspirants and Durotoye, Moghalu and Tsado were tied on 2 votes each, while five others ended up with one vote each. Only Ani-Laju, Fagbenro-Byron and Jimbo ended the first round with zero votes.

As agreed by PACT's aspirants, Durotoye, Moghalu and Tsado, with the highest votes, proceeded to the second and final voting stage with the three aspirants with zero votes in the first round recusing themselves from voting.

This left only eight aspirants to vote in the final stage until Nicholas also quietly left the gathering, according to official observer, Oby Ezekwesili, a former Minister of Education.

When the remaining seven aspirants voted, Durotoye won 4 votes while Moghalu had 3, and Tsado ended up with no votes. According to Ezekwesili, the aspirants all hugged after the results were announced.

However, Durotoye's victory has further divided the coalition.

Social media outburst over Durotoye's PACT victory

Durotoye's victory shocked many Nigerians on social media as many had tipped Moghalu for an easy victory.

The former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has started to cultivate a following on social media as many have been impressed with how he's been running his campaign and enamoured by his personality and message.

While Durotoye also has quite the following among youths, many have dismissed his ambition due to what is believed to be his low level of preparedness that's regarded to pale in comparison to Moghalu. Durotoye's victory created a storm and many alleged that the process must have been flawed in some way.

While the social media storm stirred, Durotoye was graceful in victory and extended a hand of cooperation to those that had abandoned the coalition.

"Today, I would like to extend a hand to those who have left our coalition and welcome those of similar ideologies who are yet to join us, we are stronger together," he pleaeded.

His appeals fell on deaf ears as Moghalu had other plans.

Moghalu still in the presidential race

With Durotoye's PACT victory confusing many of Moghalu's online supporters as to the status of his campaign, he released a statement to announce that he was still in the presidential race with his party, the Young Progressive Party (YPP).

Explaining why he decided to pull out of PACT, Moghalu said the withdrawal of some aspirants while the selection process was ongoing convinced him that it was a compromised exercise.

"I will remain focused on the objective of providing a competent leadership that will help unite our country and build a nation, wage a decisive war against poverty and unemployment, and restore respect for Nigeria in the society of nations," he declared.

With Moghalu also dumping PACT, that leaves the coalition with just 9 members, half of the 18 that signed an initial agreement to back just one candidate in the bid to unseat President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.

It's left to see what the implications of this will have on the campaigns of the aspirants involved, but the PACT mess should serve as a note of warning to CUPP which might be headed the same way soon.

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