How Atiku Abubakar emerged as PDP’s presidential candidate at Abuja

Atiku Abubakar celebrates victory.

Atiku Abubakar has been contesting elections in Nigeria since 1993

By Valentine Amanze

Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has elected the nation’s former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as its presidential candidate in the 2023 general election.

At the convention, which held on May 28, 2022, Atiku Abubakar, 75, emerged winner by polling 371 votes to beat 13 other candidates that included the voiceferous Rivers State governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, and former Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

No fewer than 750 delegates voted at Saturday’s convention in Abuja.

Atiku Abubakar, who campaigned on promises of a more decentralised government, would be going for his sixth shot at the presidency.

While thanking delegates for electing him, Atiku Abubakar accused the ruling party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), of dividing Nigeria and causing economic hardship.

His words: “The government of the APC has divided Nigeria along regional and religious lines.

“With you, I pledge to ensure unity. I am going to deal with our security challenges in this country and to confront our economic challenges all caused by the APC government.”

The party was rocked on Friday by the withdrawal of its 2019 vice-presidential candidate, Peter Obi, who left the party, citing internal issues, while the primary was marred by widespread accusations of vote-buying, with candidates accused of bribing delegates with as much as $10,000 to vote for them.

With the emergence of Atiku Abubakar, from the North-East, the party has discareded its policy of rotation of offices along regional line, when it was the turn of the South-East zone to produce presidential candidate.

The PDP ruled Nigeria for 16 years after the return of democracy in 1999 until it was beaten by a coalition of opposition parties in 2015.

Since then, it has lost further ground to the APC, especially in South-East Nigeria where two of its state governors defected to the ruling party.

Atiku Abubakar has been a top civil servant, and prominent businessman mostly making his fortune in the oil sector.

Atiku Abubakar, from Adamawa State, served as the vice-president between 1999 and 2007 during the two terms of President Olusegun Obasanjo, from the South-West Nigeria.

He was also the PDP’s candidate in the last election, losing to President Muhammadu Buhari by more than three million votes.


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