Abuja: A candidate backed by President Goodluck Jonathan won a vote to head Nigeria`s ruling party on Saturday after the other candidates withdrew, strengthening Jonathan`s chances of re-election should he decide to run in 2015.
Alhaji Bamanga Tukur was declared winner at the People`s Democratic Party (PDP) convention in the capital Abuja, winning 3185 votes, against just 12 no votes and 51 invalid votes.
"Alhaji Bamanga Tukur is therefore declared the winner as the National Chairman of the Party," said Bello Haliru, chairman of the Electoral Committee.
No official reason was given, but party sources said the other candidates were persuaded to back down because they were unlikely to win.
The party leader can wield wide influence over who gets nominated to run for president on the PDP ticket, a position that virtually guarantees getting Nigeria`s top job.
A year after Jonathan was sworn in, politicians are already jockeying for position for elections in 2015. Jonathan has not said he will run but he has not ruled it out, and close allies say privately that he is considering running again.
Northern politicians are unhappy about that possibility. His candidacy in 2011 was controversial because, in northern eyes, it tore up an unwritten agreement that power should rotate each two terms between the largely Muslim north and the mostly Christian south.
Jonathan, a Christian from the south, faces an Islamist insurgency in the north that analysts say is driven in part by a perception that economic and political power is too concentrated in the south.
A PDP caucus representing the northeast was against Tukur`s nomination, although the almost unanimous vote for him suggests they were persuaded to back down.