Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar will today, for the fifth time since 1999 and sixth in total, declare his intention to contest for the presidency of the country, hence emerging as the most serial presidential contestant in Nigeria’s history.
The former vice president will by his declaration tomorrow in Abuja beat the record of the President Muhammadu Buhari who starting vying for the presidency from 2003 till he won in 2015 on his fourth attempt, securing a second term in 2019 on his fifth.
But Atiku, who has unsuccessfully contested five presidential elections in 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019, would declare for the presidency by 2023 by tomorrow, making it the sixth time.
Atiku’s quest for the presidency started in 1993 when he contested the presidential ticket on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) which he lost to the late Moshood Abiola.
In 2007, Atiku ran for president on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) but lost to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, and in 2011, he contested on the platform of the then ruling PDP but lost the presidential ticket to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
In the build-up to the 2015 election, he contested on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) but lost the ticket to President Muhammadu Buhari. In 2019, Atiku was the PDP presidential candidate but he lost, again, to Buhari who was the incumbent and APC candidate.
Nevertheless, barely a day after the PDP flagged off the sale of presidential forms on March 17, Atiku picked the party’s presidential nomination forms for the 2023 election. A group, the North East Business Community, purchased the forms worth N40 million and presented it to him in Abuja, urging him to run for the country’s top job again.
Atiku’s formal declaration today comes amid debate over which region PDP should zone its presidential ticket to.
President Buhari, who comes closest to Atiku in serial running for president (five times), won on his fourth attempt in 2015, dethroning the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. He was re-elected for second term in 2019.
Tambuwal Urges PDP To Focus On Retaining Power Than Zoning
Meanwhile, presidential aspirant and Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, has urged the opposition PDP to focus on returning to power at the centre rather than on zoning ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
He contended that after the party secures the presidency, it can decide how to allocate positions to members.
Tambuwal stated yesterday in Abuja when he hosted former presiding officers of states and the House of Representatives in continuation of his presidential ambition.
The governor, who recalled how the APC in 2015 ignored zoning and decided to retain the presidential slot in Katsina State from where the late President Yar’Adua hailed, stressed that demography, intellectual capacity and age should be major factors that will drive the party’s quest for power in 2023.
“You can share tickets because you can tear it up, but you must plan to win. PDP must accept this reality. The ticket must be balanced, as zoning or any Muslim-Muslim ticket or Christian-Christian ticket would be dead on arrival and recipes for disaster,” he said.
Tambuwal pledged not to be parochial in the allocation of offices if he is considered for nomination to run for the position of president by the party.
While urging the party to reflect on the outcome of the recent governorship and House of Representatives elections in Anambra and Plateau states, he said issues of demographics, intra-party wrangling in the APC, voter education and rigging indicated that the PDP should be strategic in choosing its presidential candidate for next year’s election.
The governor stated that with the APC being strong in the Northern region, with 16 governors, and the PDP sharing the same positions with it in the Southern region, the PDP would have to “think well, plan well and win this election.”
He assured the PDP and its adherents of his competence, capabilities and capacities as an experienced legislator, economical administrator and consummate ‘life bencher.’
“I am coming with my pan-Nigerian content, competences in handling federal and governance issues, in addition to having references in all the 360 constituencies in the country who can vouch for me.
“It has never been this bad for governance in this country, therefore, the president we need is one that understands the country, inclusive in his dealings and one that will allow the rule of law to flourish,” Tambuwal said, explaining that he had all these qualities, which other aspirants in the PDP lack.
Former national publicity secretary of PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, who declared support for Tambuwal’s presidential ambition, said a party in the opposition should focus on how to win election and not zoning.
He also decried the position of South South governors who called for zoning of the presidential position to their region, rather than to the South East,
Metuh, who stated this at the meeting between Tambuwal and former presiding officers, however challenged the state governors who are insisting on zoning of the presidency to their region to first implement the same in their states.
He said as much as he would prefer for the next president to emerge from the South East, “What is possible is better than what is viable,” he noted, adding that party leaders should focus on what will give the party victory in the 2023 polls.
President Must Come From South, PDP South-West Leaders Insist
Meanwhile, South West PDP leaders and stakeholders have insisted that the next president of Nigeria must come from the South.
The leaders stated this yesterday after the closed-door meeting held at the Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
Reading the communique, the national vice chairman (West) of the party, Soji Adagunodo, said the region was throwing its weight behind the Southern governors.
Some of the leaders and stakeholders who attended the event are: Oyo state governor, Seyi Makinde, Chief Bode George, Ayodele Fayose, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, PDP zonal financial secretary Rahman Owokoniran, deputy national chairman, South, Taofeeq Arapaja, and Sen. Francis Fadahunsi amongst others.
Last year, Southern governors rose from meeting to say that the next president of the country must come from the zone.
As part of the seven-point communique, Adagunodo said South West zone would do everything in its power to deliver Osun and Ekiti states to the party in the forthcoming elections.
“The zone is desirous of fairness, justice and equity in the distribution of Federal positions and appointments and will support all efforts geared towards National cohesion through equitable distribution of federal positions and appointments amongst the geopolitical zones of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” it added.
The South West zone further reaffirmed its support for the restructuring of Nigeria.
Vote Wisely In 2023, Makarfi,Daniels,Obi Urge Electorate
Prominent Nigerians, which include former governors of Kaduna, Ogun , Anambra states, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Otunba Gbenga Daniels, Dr Peter Obi and former Director General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside have urged Nigerians to do away with sentiment and vote wisely in the forthcoming general elections.
Speaking at the fourth annual lecture of Freedom Online publication held in Ikeja, Lagos on the topic, “Nigeria’s political indices: Bright or bleak future,” they noted that Nigeria requires a leader that can unite the country and move it forward, because past leaders had further contributed to the challenges facing the country.
In his submission, Senator Markafi, who was the chairman of the occasion, said the country had challenges that needed to be addressed, adding that if not addressed, they would have consequences for the country.
He therefore, urged Nigerians to vote wisely and usher in good leadership that will take care of the problems facing the country.
‘’Money should not determine who leads the country . Private sector has a lot of role to play in who leads the country and they should play it well. They should look at the situation of the country and look at what will help Nigeria .They can contribute to the political system. There is hope but there is a lot of work to be done.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the publisher Freedom online Mr Gabriel Akin- Adewo said politicians needed to draw a line between governance and politics, noting that this can be achieved by paying attention to the development of the country.
Former Governor of Anambra Mr Peter Obi in his submission said Nigerians should be wary of the situation of things in the country, adding that failure to choose good leadership for the country can destroy every potential the country has.
Regulations, Guidelines For 2023 Polls Ready 10 Months Ahead – INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the guidelines and regulations for the 2023 general election will be ready 10 months ahead of the general election.
Chairman of the commission Prof Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this when he received a delegation from John D and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, led by its president, John Palfrey, at the INEC Headquarters, Abuja, on Monday.
The INEC chairman recalled that in 2019, the Commission was constrained by time due to the uncertainty that trailed the electoral legal framework which saw the Commission sign the Regulations and Guidelines on the 19th of January, 2019, few weeks before the election.
“We hope that this time around we will sign off on the Regulations and Guidelines at least 10 months before the next general election, which is very good progress for us,” he said.
Harping on the new Electoral Act 2022, Prof. Yakubu said, “The Electoral Act has been repealed and re-enacted. It was not just a question of an amendment, the amendments were so extensive, so eventually, the National Assembly repealed and re-enacted the electoral act”.