Atiku Emerges Presidential Flagbearer of Nigeria’s Opposition Party

Nigeria’s former vice president Atiku Abubakar has emerged presidential candidate of Nigeria’s opposition party Saturday after garnering 371 votes.

He won, defeating his closest rival, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, governor of oil-producing Rivers state, who secured 237 votes at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja.

Abubakar, 75 was vice president to Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007 – the first Nigerian leader after the end of decades of military rule.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar

He lost to incumbent President Buhari during the last election in 2019, which he claimed was rigged.

Buhari will not be on the ballot next year when his constitutionally allowed two terms of four-year each, comes to an end.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) party, which governed Nigeria after military rule ended in 1999, was ousted from power by Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) party in 2015. The PDP is vying to govern Africa’s most populous country.

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In his acceptance speech, Abubakar reiterated cardinal components of his campaign promise which includes, to put an end to the insecurity in the country and revive its fragile economy. He also pledged to work closely with his opponents.

“I therefore pledge that I will restore unity. I also committed that I was going to deal decisively with the security situation in this country,” said Abubakar.

Other contestants include former Senate President Bukola Saraki who garnered 70 votes, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom and Bala Mohammed of Bauchi polled 38 and 20 votes respectively.

Abubakar has stood in six primaries, and next year’s vote will be his third presidential bid.

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Atiku’s main challenger will be from the ruling APC party, which will choose its candidate at a special convention to be held from June 6-8.

The APC postponed its presidential primary from Sunday after the electoral commission extended the deadline for political parties to choose their candidates.

Twenty-five candidates from the APC have registered to take part in the primaries. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and former Lagos state Governor and party heavyweight Bola Tinubu are seen as the ruling party’s front-runners.

Buhari’s successor faces several challenges, especially insecurity marked by kidnappings for ransom in the northwest, insurgency in the northeast, violent secessionist activities in the southeast, and an economy bogged down by high inflation.

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