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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari must think history is threatening to repeat itself as he watches his main challenger in February elections, Atiku Abubakar, do what he did three years ago: build a broad alliance to win power in Africa’s biggest oil producer.

Buhari, 75, rode atop a wide coalition to become the first opposition candidate to win a general election in the continent’s most populous nation. While Buhari tapped into a yearning to end years of corruption, Abubakar, 71, is capitalizing on the angst of the elite. He’s portraying himself as the friend of investors and ethnic minorities in his bid to oust the ruling All Progressives Congress.

“What is happening is that the elite now think there’s an option,” said Bismarck Rewane, chief executive officer of Financial Derivatives Co., a risk advisory group based in the commercial hub of Lagos. “Before it was almost a certainty it was going to be a slam dunk for APC. With Atiku, they now have a fighting chance.”

When Abubakar last week reconciled with his ex-boss, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, he took along influential Muslim and Christian clerics. It was a deft move in a country almost evenly split between a predominantly Christian south and a mainly Muslim north and racked by periodic outbursts of sectarian violence that critics say Buhari has managed poorly.

Political Establishment

Added to previous endorsements by most of the country’s ex-military elite, consultations with influential pressure groups in the north, southwest and the oil-rich Niger River delta, Abubakar appears to be having some success at cementing the backing of the political establishment.

“The implicit support of important religious leaders from across faiths is likely to give Atiku’s emerging campaign a further boost in a country where religious leaders wield mass influence,” Malte Liewerscheidt, London-based vice president of Teneo Intelligence, said in an emailed note on Monday.

The importance wasn’t lost on Buhari, who admonished religious leaders in a speech two days after the meeting about the perils of meddling in politics.

“Religious leaders should not be seen to involve themselves in partisan politics or political controversies,” he said. “Otherwise, they risk losing their status and public respect.”

Muhammadu Buhari

Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Bloomberg

There are ominous signs for Buhari. Despite strong support in the north, he failed in three attempts to be elected president until 2015, when he formed an alliance with key segments of the political elite and defectors from the then-ruling Peoples Democratic Party.

Many of those allies, including Abubakar, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara and Sokoto state Governor Aminu Tambuwal, have deserted him. So have former army rulers such as Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida, who toppled Buhari’s military administration in 1983.

While Buhari promised in the last campaign to calm Nigeria’s various security challenges, including the war against Islamist militants in the northeast, the violence continues. The president’s popularity has waned in the central region he won in 2015 over widespread perception he’s not done enough to end the grazing conflict that has devastated the area. Investors also blame Buhari for worsening a recession that resulted from an oil-price drop two years before he took office and deterring investment by imposing capital controls.

Anti-Corruption War

Buhari is still touting his anti-corruption war that critics say is mainly targeting his opponents. He signed an executive order on Oct. 13 that bars about 50 people, said to be facing graft investigations, from leaving the country.

He’s also expected to continue to question whether Abubakar, considered one of the richest people on Nigeria’s political scene, acquired his wealth legitimately. A former top customs official, he later became a major shareholder in Intels Nigeria Ltd., an oil-service company.

While the momentum may now appear to be in favor of the opposition, victory is far from certain, according to analysts including Liewerscheidt and Rewane.

Abubakar’s choice of running mate, Peter Obi, a former state governor with a good track record, may help lock down votes in the southeast, where the majority Igbo people have complained about a lack of national representation since their leaders tried to secede from Nigeria in the Biafra civil war in the 1960s.

But the choice of Obi also carries the risk of tilting votes in the ethnically Yoruba-dominated southwest, a key swing region where Vice President Yemi Osinbajo comes from, firmly in favor of the Buhari.

“This election is going to boil down to who wins the southwest,” Rewane said. “It’s true that Atiku’s campaign experience gives the PDP a chance. But then the APC is not going to fold its hands and lie down.”

— With assistance by Yinka Ibukun


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Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo has officially endorsed former vice President Atiku Abubakar to run for the Presidency of Nigeria come 2019.

Obasanjo disclosed this while briefing newsmen after a meeting with Atiku, leaders of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and others key stakeholders in his country home in Abeokuta.

Obasanjo said that he was giving his blessings to Atiku because he (Atiku) had ‘re-discovered and re-positioned himself’and as such had earned his (Obasanjo’s) forgiveness.

He said that Atiku had re positioned himself enough to now enjoy his support in the next election, adding that Atiku is the “the next President of Nigeria”.

Read full text below:

“Let me start by congratulating President-to-be, Atiku Abubakar, for his success at the recent PDP Primary and I took note of his gracious remarks in his acceptance speech that it all started here.

“Yes, when it started, it was meant for Atiku to succeed Obasanjo.  In the presence of these distinguished leaders of goodwill today, let me say it openly that we have reviewed what went wrong on the side of Atiku.

“And in all honesty, my former Vice-President has re-discovered and re-positioned himself.  As I have repeatedly said, it is not so much what you did against me that was the issue but what you did against the Party, the Government and the country.

“I took the stand I had taken based on the character and attributes you exhibited in the position you found yourself.

“I strongly believe that I was right. It was in the overall interest of everyone and everything to take such a position.

“From what transpired in the last couple of hours or so, you have shown remorse; you have asked for forgiveness and you have indicated that you have learnt some good lessons and you will mend fences and make amends as necessary and as desirable.

“Whenever or wherever you might have offended me, as a Christian who asks for God’s forgiveness of my sins and inadequacies on daily basis, I forgive and I sincerely advise you to learn from the past and do what is right and it will be well with you.

“Obviously, you have mended fences with the Party and fully reconciled with the Party.

“That’s why today, you are the Presidential Candidate of the Party.  In addition to appreciating all that the Party has done for you, may I advise you to work together with all those who contested for the Party’s flag with you as a team for your campaign.

“There are still areas, nationally and internationally, where you have to mend fences and make amends.  You will know how to handle what is already out and what may yet be put out by the opposition.  But, I am convinced that if you continue with the attitude that brought you here with these distinguished leaders of goodwill, with remorse and contrite heart, the rest of the coast within and outside the country can be cleared.  And if there is anything I can do and you want me to do in that respect, I will do.

“I am sure with the right attitude for change where necessary, and by putting lessons learned by you to work, you will get the understanding, cooperation, support and mandate – all at the national level.

“With Nigerians voting for you, it will mean that you secure their forgiveness and regain their confidence. It will be with the hope or assurance of a Paul on the road to Damascus Conversion. After all, change and conversion are of man. I believe that with a contrite heart, change is possible in everybody’s life and situation.

“For me, relatively and of all the aspirants in the PDP, you have the widest and greatest exposure, experience, outreach and possibly the best machinery and preparation for seeing the tough and likely dirty campaign ahead through. From what I personally know of you, you have capacity to perform better than the incumbent. You surely understand the economy better; you have business experience, which can make your administration business-friendly and boost the economy and provide jobs.

“You have better outreach nationally and internationally and that can translate to better management of foreign affairs.  You are more accessible and less inflexible and more open to all parts of the country in many ways.  As Pastor Bakare, one-time running mate of the incumbent President said, “You are a wazobia man and that should help you in confronting the confront-able and shunning nepotism".

“As you know, along the road to where you are today, many leaders and ordinary people cooperated and overtly and covertly worked hard.  On your behalf, I thank them all.  May their coast continue to be expanded.  And when you become Nigerian President which, insha-Allah, you will be, remember what we did together in government – we ran an administration by Nigerians for all Nigerians where merit and performance count more than blood relationship, friendship or kith and kin.  Although some time and ground have been lost, you should endeavor to start from where we stopped and recover some lost ground, if not time.

“Please uphold truth, integrity, principles, morality and fight corruption, crimes and insurgency.  The fundamental law of the land, our constitution must be scrupulously defended. I make one demand and one demand on you today, I need you to say before God and man that you will always remain irrevocably committed to upholding ALL the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the whole country will remain your single indivisible constituency.

“Constitutionalism, popular participation and inclusiveness are pre-conditions for reversing the deficits of the past three and half years. They will ensure abiding faith in our indivisibility, oneness and faith in the survival of all against none.

“The fundamentals for our development, economic growth and progress are hard and soft infrastructure.  Remember to always give adequate places in your administration to our youth and women.

“All the authorities involved with the preparation, all processes and conduct of the election must ensure that the election is free, fair and credible.

“Once again, congratulations and I wish you well.  My distinguished brothers and leaders of goodwill, thank you for making this happen.  I will now count on you to encourage all hands to be on the deck to take Nigeria to the level God has created it to be – autopilot level.”


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OBIARUKU – STALWART of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Delta State, Mr. Chidi Nwabuofu, Wednesday, said the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for the 2019 general election was not a threat to the second term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He however, urged the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomole to call on all aggrieved parties and stakeholders to a negotiation table to “forestall the negative consequences arising from the just concluded primaries, before the 2019 general elections. Nwabuofu, in a statement, said "Atiku cannot contend with the overwhelming support that Nigerians have pledged for our President, Muhammad Buhari. Perhaps when the scales fall off the eyes of our detractors, they will realize the futility of their struggles.”

The statement further noted that “The divisive reflexes that struck our great party, APC, before and in the aftermath of the recent primaries is a development that must be arrested in good time. As a progressive party we need to set standards for other political parties to emulate in our attempt to write off the bad legacies of PDP. This is so for Nigerians to consider the APC as its viable choice. That of course will be negated if the different tendencies are allowed to fester. We need to eschew personal interests, greed, and unite in the party because service in itself is sacrificial and not a do or die affair". “However, in doing this I strongly recommend that those who purchased the party’s expensive forms and were not successful in the primaries across the nation should be compensated. This I believe, might help mitigate the grievances that the process entrenched. I’m confident in the capacity of our National Chairman to be able to weather the storms from across the states.”

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The pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, yesterday held a closed-door meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo at his Abeokuta private residence.

Those in the team were Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu, Senator Femi Okunrounmu, Prof. Banjo Akintoye, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Dr. Amos Akingba, Hon. Oladipo Olaitan, Ayo Adebanjo and Modupe Adelaja.

There was no clue about what was discussed at the meeting but it might not be unconnected with the current political development in the country, particularly the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the leading presidential candidates in the 2019 elections.

The Afenifere’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, who spoke with journalists, said the group would soon announce to the public which of the presidential candidates they would support.

Even though Odumakin was evasive on who they would likely support between Buhari and Atiku, from what he said, it was certain that they would throw their weight behind Atiku.

He said: “The 2019 election is going to be interesting, the most important thing for us is restructuring and clearly you should know that Afenifere will always support a candidate that is ready to restructure the country because without restructuring, we are going nowhere.

“So, the choice is clear. We will make the announcement soon.

“Restructuring of the country is Atiku’s major campaign message while Buhari has often times stated that restructuring is not the major problem confronting Nigeria.

“Some few months ago, former President Obasanjo came to Lagos to visit Pa Ayo Adebanjo and we discussed some issues and today we are here too as well to visit him and appreciate his visit to Lagos the other time.

“We are trying to further the friendship so that there can be harmony in Yorubaland so that our people can know that leaders across divide are coming together to discuss the way forward.”

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The electoral committee set up by the  National Working Committee of the All Progressive Congress (APC) to conduct primaries in Kaduna State has issued Certificates of Return to the elected senatorial candidates from the three zones.

The certificates were issued on Monday by the Chairman of the electoral committee in the state, Mathew Idouriyekemwen, despite the controversy surrounding the senatorial primary for Kaduna central district, where the incumbent senator, Shehu Sani, insisted that he was given an automatic ticket by the party’s NWC.

The senatorial candidates are Uba Sani for Kaduna central, Suleiman Abdu-Kwari for Kaduna North and Bala Bantex for Kaduna south.

The committee also presented certificates to winners for the House of Representatives and State Assembly elections.

In his remarks, the electoral committee chairman said the primary was free and fair and has the backing of the party’s national leadership.

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) has told the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, that the Presidency is not for sale.

The APC Acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, said this in a statement on Monday, in reaction to allegations of vote buying in the just concluded presidential primary of the PDP.

“Atiku is known as a super-rich Nigerian who entrenched the undemocratic practice of buying votes of delegates".

“During the APC National Convention in 2014, he spent several millions of dollars to buy delegates’ votes and emerged third, after Buhari and Rabiu Kwankwaso".

He continued by stating, “On Sunday, he reportedly bought over virtually all the PDP delegates and was declared the winner of the PDP presidential primaries".

“With these huge expenses incurred to secure the PDP ticket, how will Atiku recoup his “investment” if not from the public treasury should he win the Presidency?" the APC questioned.

The APC further scored the PDP presidential candidate ‘abysmally low’ in terms of character, citing his relationship with his former boss, Olusegun Obasanjo.

According to the party, he has proven to be ‘untrustworthy and unreliable’.

The APC accused Atiku of defecting from one party to another, adding that if he loses the presidential election in 2019, he will again defect from the PDP to another political platform.

At the end of the political banter, the ruling party, however, congratulated Atiku on his victory.

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Senate president and presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Bukola Saraki has assured Atiku Abubakar of his support in the 2019 presidential election.

Saraki made this known in a series of tweets on Sunday, after Atiku was announced as winner of the PDP presidential primaries.

Today is a great day for our party, , because it has shown what men and women of our party can do. Today has shown that the interest of our party and the Nigerian people is more important than our individual interests. 

I want to thank Governor Okowa for planning and organizing this transparent, free and fair Presidential Primary and Convention.

I congratulate our Presidential Candidate, Your Excellency, Alhaji Abubakar, for your victory. You have stayed on course over the years and truly, you deserve this victory.

We always knew from Day 1 that only one candidate would emerge. On behalf of all the aspirants, I want to assure Alhaji  Abubakar that we will work with you to ensure that come 2019, you emerge as Nigeria’s next President. 

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Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari would have arrested him if he had found him wanting and that he is the most investigated politician in Nigeria.

Atiku made this known in a statement on Monday by his campaign organization in Abuja saying ‘ vindictiveness of President Buhari would have arrested Abubakar if he had been found wanting. He said: “We are not surprised that there is confusion in the President’s camp. We expected that they would be thrown into a catatonic state knowing that Atiku Abubabakr’s emergence automatically means the coming end of their ignominious reign". That much was admitted by the President’s former running mate, Pastor Tunde Bakare when he praised the emergence of Atiku as an ‘Eagle’ and ‘a cosmopolitan wazobia’ politician. Obviously, Pastor Tunde Bakare has foreseen that the era of 97% versus 5% has come to an end with the emergence of the pan Nigerian Atiku Abubakar.

“We ask how can the Buhari Campaign Organisation disparage the PDP Primary that produced His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar,even when the President’s own wife, Aisha Buhari, has condemned the APC’s primary? Not only did Mrs Buhari condemn APC’s primaries, but she also described them as ‘unfair’ and lacking in integrity. Who can know President Buhari better than his wife? “Eleven aspirants contested against His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, during the Presidential primary of the PDP. Every single one of them accepted his victory. President Buhari was the only candidate cleared by the APC to contest its primary, yet, a coalition of 5 aspirants are challenging his victory, that alone tells Nigerians his emergence is fraudulent".

“Nigerians know that Atiku Abubakar is the most investigated politician in Nigeria and any smear by the Buhari administration remains just that. With the vindictiveness of President Buhari, he would have arrested Abubakar if he had been found wanting. However, to set the record straight, we want to remind Nigerians that PDP’s primaries were genuine, free and fair. Atiku Abubakar got 1,532 votes in a contest televised live to millions of Nigerians. The All Progressives Congress’ primary, on the other hand, was a study in dictatorship and corruption. The sole candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, scored almost 15 million votes. How could that occur without rigging or manufacturing of faceless voters?” “No wonder Transparency International rated Nigeria as more corrupt today under Buhari than just three years ago when the PDP was in power. The scandals are too numerous, including the $25 billion NNPC contracts awarded without due process, the several padded budgets, the $41 million Ikoyi Apartment scandal, the recall, reinstatement and double promotion of pension thief and Buhari financier, Abdulrasheed Maina, the N200 million grass cutter scandal, and many others too numerous to mention.” “The choice before Nigerians in 2019 is a simple one. Nigerians have a choice of electing a lively candidate with a record of providing 50,000 jobs to Nigerians in his private capacity versus the lifelessness (apologies to President Donald Trump) of a candidate under whom Nigeria lost 11 million jobs and became the world headquarters for extreme poverty". “Nigerians have a choice of a man who will provide an efficient and business-friendly solution to the herdsmen crisis and a man whose government said ‘giving land for cattle ranching is better than death.” “It is very obvious that faced with such a choice that Nigerians would definitely vote for the man who will Get Nigeria Working Again, hence we are not surprised by this desperate statement from the Buhari administration that is so shameless that they made a man implicated in framing a man of God on spurious charges as their spokesman. If he can lie against a man of God, should Nigerians believe anything he says about the PDP and its candidate?” 

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Former Plateau governor, Sen. Jonah Jang, has congratulated Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for picking the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2019 general elections.

Jang, who also contested alongside Atiku and 10 others, said in a statement issued on Monday in Jos that the victory was well-deserved and he would support the party’s candidate to win in 2019. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Atiku polled 1,532 votes to defeat his closest opponent, Aminu Tambuwal, who had 693 votes at the party’s elective convention held in Port- Harcourt. “On behalf of my campaign team and teeming supporters, I hereby congratulate Atiku Abubakar for a deserved victory and accept in totality the outcome of the Primary Elections.

“As a loyal member and responsible stakeholder of our party, I hereby pledge to support and work for the actualisation of the anticipated Atiku Abubakar presidency; a presidency which I strongly believe will have answers to the multifaceted problems confounding the current occupant of Aso Rock, ” Jang said.

The former governor urged Atiku to pay special attention to the challenges confronting the people of Middle Belt, particularly the countless killing of innocent citizens by ” faceless” gunmen, when he becomes president. He advised the candidate to make the security and welfare of the middle belters his top priority. Jang commended the Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee and the Dr Ifeanyi Okowa-led Convention committee for organising a hitch-free and transparent convention.

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 A source from the area, who identified himself as Benson, explained that some members of the party had allegedly come with some thugs to the venue.

The source disclosed that some of the thugs tied objects suspected to be  charms during the shooting, which was ostensibly targeted at scaring people away.

It was gathered that the shooting, which lasted for about 15 minutes, caused confusion during the primary, where the incumbent member of the House of Representatives, Jerome Eke, was to slug it out with another PDP chieftain, Ephraim Uzi.

“The incident happened at the council secretariat in Okehi, the venue of Etche PDP House of Representatives’ primary. The incident started at about 6 pm; some members of the party were said to have come in with thugs.”

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