The major opposition party in Nigeria has chosen former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as a contender for the coming presidential elections in 2023.
The counting of votes started on Saturday evening, 28 May, and Abubakar got 371 votes while beating his closest rival Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, who got 237 votes and is the governor of oil-producing Rivers state.
The 73-year-old Abubakar, a Muslim and stalwart of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has made several bids to get the presidency of Africa’s most popular country.
Abubakar lost to current President Muhammadu Buhari during the 2019 elections, which he said to be rigged.
But Buhari will not be a candidate next year when his four-year tenure comes to an end for the second time.
The PDP, which was in power in Nigeria after the end of military rule in 1999, was removed from ruling by Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) party in 2015.
In his speech of acceptance, Abubakar restated his campaign promise to get rid of insecurity in the nation and restore its fragile economy, among other promises, and pledged to work with his opponents.
Abubakar stated, “Therefore, I pledge that I will revive unity. I also committed that I would deal decisively with the security crisis in this country.”
Abubakar has been in six primaries, and next year’s voting will be his third presidential bid.
From 1999 to 2007, he served as the vice president of Olusegun Obasanjo, who was the first Nigerian leader after the end of long military rule.
The main opponent of Abubakar will be from the present ruling party, APC, that will choose its candidate at a special convention on June 6-8.
Buhari’s successor faces many challenges, including insecurity marked by kidnappings for ransom in the northwest, an armed Islamist uprising in the northeast, secessionist brutality in the southeast, and a struggling economy and increased inflation.