Nigeria’s PDP picks Atiku Abubakar to run for president in 2023

The former vice president launched his third presidential bid after winning the PDP primary.

Nigeria’s main opposition party has chosen former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as its candidate for the 2023 presidential election.

Counting began late Saturday, with Abubakar garnering 371 votes, beating his closest competitor, Governor of the oil-producing Rivers state Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, who received 237 votes.

Abubakar, a Muslim and a staunch supporter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has made multiple bids to become president of Africa’s most populous country.

The 75-year-old lost the last election in 2019 to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, which he claims was rigged.

But Buhari will not vote next year at the end of the second of his two four-year terms.

The PDP, which ruled Nigeria after the end of military rule in 1999, was ousted in 2015 by Buhari’s All Progressive Congress (APC) party.

In his acceptance speech, Abubakar reiterated his campaign promise to end the country’s insecurity and revive its fragile economy, among other commitments, and pledged to cooperate with his opponents.

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

Abubakar has contested six primaries, and next year’s vote will be his third for the presidency.

From 1999 to 2007, he served as the vice president of Olusegun Obasanjo, the first Nigerian leader after decades of military rule.

Abubakar’s main opponent will come from the ruling APC party, which will select a candidate at a special convention on June 6-8.

The APC postponed the presidential primary from Sunday after the Election Commission extended the deadline for parties to select candidates.

Twenty-five candidates from the APC have registered for the primaries. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and former Lagos state governor and party heavyweight Bola Tinub are seen as front-runners for the ruling party.

Buhari’s successor faces several challenges — including insecurity in the northwest marked by kidnapping for ransom, an Islamic uprising in the northeast, separatist violence in the southeast, and a struggling economy and high inflation.

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