Former Vice-President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar has emerged as the flag bearer of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the just concluded primaries for the 2023 presidential election.
After winning the most votes from the 767 delegates accredited for the convention, the retired customs officer has won the hearts of the PDP delegates making him the forerunner for the party in the race to the 2023 general elections.
On Saturday, the PDP held its presidential primary elections at the Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abuja amidst the sudden extension of primaries by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Atiku Abubakar won 371 votes from the 767 delegates accredited for the convention.
Earlier, Sokoto state governor and fellow presidential aspirant Aminu Tambuwal withdrew from the race.
Mr Tambuwal urged his supporters among the delegates to vote for the former vice president, subsequently shooting him ahead of his main contender Nyesom Wike, who scored 237 votes.
In March, Mr Abubakar formally declared his interest in running for the office of the Nigerian president in 2023. His campaign focus covered security, economy, education and devolving more resources and powers to the federating units.
His victory followed the comments of Doyin Okupe, a former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, who revealed that the presidential primary election will be a money market as presidential aspirants, like Messrs Abubakar and Wike, would persuade delegates with money.
How much role cash distribution played throughout the exercise was unclear.
Abubakar’s desire to be president dates as far back as 2019 when he won the ticket of the PDP but was beaten at the polls by incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.
The former vice president had tried five times unsuccessfully to become Nigeria’s president, starting in 1992 when he ran under the Social Democratic Party. He sought the office in 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019.
Atiku Abubakar has faced relentless pushback against his ambition over his unsavoury record on public corruption.
As vice-president, he was accused of taking bribes from utility multinational Siemens. A United States Senate report in 2010 indicted Atiku Abubakar and his ex-wife Jennifer Douglas of corruption. They both denied the allegations.
As part of the charges, Abubakar was prevented from entering the United States for several years, including at the time he was vice-president.
He challenged the U.S. decision to deny him a visa repeatedly, but ultimately said he was vindicated when in 2019 he was offered a reprieve visa to enter Washington for a speaking engagement.
Atiku Abubakar will now face the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, which has scheduled its primaries for June 6-8 in the Nation’s capital.
More to follow…