Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate for the sixth time

Atiku Abubakar in Abuja, the federal capital of Nigeria, in February 2019.

Atiku Abubakar, leader of the opposition in Nigeria and former vice-president, announced Wednesday March 23 to be a candidate for the presidential election of 2023 to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.

At 75, this sulphurous and wealthy businessman wants to stand for a sixth presidential election in the most populous country in Africa in the space of three decades. He is considered by civil society organizations to be one of the most corrupt Nigerian politicians.

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“Currently, Nigeria is a sinking ship, it needs to be rescued urgently. It is for this reason that I am happy to announce my candidacy for the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”Abubakar said at a press conference in Abuja, the capital.

Mr. Abubakar said he wanted to make security, the economy and education his priorities, while insisting on decentralization in this Federal Republic. At the head of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the main opposition party, “Atiku”as Nigerians call him, lost in 2019 to incumbent President Buhari.

Security, a major issue in the election

Less than a year before the election scheduled for February 2023, no favorite has yet emerged despite the announcement of candidacy by famous politicians, such as Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos and head of the ruling party, the Congress of Progressives (APC).

Security will be a major issue in the election as the country is plagued by widespread insecurity. The Nigerian army is deployed on multiple fronts, notably in the northeast, the scene of a jihadist insurgency for more than ten years and in the northwest where criminal gangs loot, kidnap and kill the inhabitants.

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The high cost of living, yet another series of general power cuts and soaring fuel prices will also weigh as Nigerians fail to take advantage of the oil resources of their country, Africa’s top producer of black gold.

In an attempt to reconcile this country extremely divided between a Muslim north and a Christian south, and where nearly 250 ethnic groups live, an unspoken rule provides for a rotation of the presidency every two terms between candidates from the north and the south. But Mr. Abubakar, former head of customs and vice-president (1999-2007), is from the north, just like President Buhari who, after two terms, has announced that he will not run again.

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The World with AFP

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