Nigeria’s Atiku Abubakar to run for president

Atiku Abubakar, centre, waves to the crowd after declaring he will run next year.

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Nigeria’s former vice president Atiku Abubakar has said he will run for president in next year’s election.

Mr Abubakar, 75, a member of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party, made the announcement at a briefing in the capital, Abuja, on Wednesday.

“I am happy to announce my candidacy for president,” Mr Abubakar said.

He promised to “rescue” Africa’s most populous country, which he said has been “left behind” by the continent and the world, AP reported.

The West African nation is scheduled to hold a presidential vote in February 2023.

Mr Abubakar seeks to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, who will complete his second and final term in May 2023.

Speaking to supporters in Abuja, Mr Abubakar said he is “the unifier that is coming to bound the broken union” of a nation deeply divided along religious and ethnic lines.

The business mogul was the nation’s vice president from 1999 to 2007 and this is the sixth time he has run for president.

He ran against Mr Buhari as the PDP’s presidential candidate in 2019, obtaining 41 per cent of the ballots cast, against Mr Buhari’s 55 per cent.

He later mounted an unsuccessful legal challenge to the outcome of the election.

“This time around is different, our journey will not end at the poll. We will get to work and rescue Nigeria,” Mr Abubakar said to cheers.

“Let our stories be told for generations to come that we are the ones that rescued Nigeria when it was on the verge of fatal destruction.”

The political landscape is partly dominated by the ruling All Progressives Congress party which controls the executive arm of government and holds majority seats in both the Senate and House of Representatives, and 23 out of 36 state governorships.

Nigeria — Africa’s most populous country, with 206 million people — is battling unprecedented unemployment of 33 per cent and growing insecurity.

More than 80 million Nigerians — 40 per cent of the population — are living in poverty, which is less than $2 a day per person, according to government data.

The country’s economy is still the largest in Africa in terms of the gross domestic product and relies heavily on oil, which accounts for more than 80 per cent of exports and half of government revenues, according to the World Bank.

Since 2011, the security landscape has been shaped by the war against the Boko Haram terrorist group in the northern states.

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