The Race to Nigeria’s Presidential Election

Aderonke Ajibade
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The tempo for the presidential race in Nigeria heightens as more candidates declare their aspiration to be president ahead of party primaries. The race has not been void of dramas as it is expected to become even more dramatic as the dates draw closer. The incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari will be running for a second term alongside other candidates.

The 2019 election is expected to be a very interesting one as there has been a serious awakening in the continent and Nigeria on the role of the younger generation in African politics. We have seen hashtags such as #Nottooyoungtorun #GetyourPVC #changethechange trend on social media. The trend on #Nottooyoungtorun led to the passing of the Not too young to run bill by president buhari. But the big question remains is Nigeria ready to be run by the younger generation and will the young generation effect the necessary change in the country?


Alot of young aspirants have expressed their interest in running for President and it looks like the generation is ready for the change. However there have been questions on how the young aspirants intend to unseat the present government and the old politicians who have been in the helms of affair of the country since its independence. Many seem to think it is an impossible task without a godfather or the necessary funds.

To this end, It was gathered that 18 presidential aspirants agreed to elect a consensus candidate.  The coalition of political parties came under an umbrella of the Presidential Aspirants Coming Together (PACT). The election of a consensus candidate held yesterday and reportedly 7 candidates opted out of the process few hours before the election, leaving 11 aspirants to participate.

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After a vote by the 11 candidates, Fela Durotoye was elected as their consensus candidate. He beat Kingsley by a vote. He will be flying the flag of Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) on behalf of 10 other aspirants in the 2019 general election. The election was monitored and observed by Oby Ezekwezili, Nigeria’s former Minister of Education, who described the process as transparent and credible.

However after the results were announced, former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and aspiring presidential candidate, Kingsley Moghalu, has pulled out of the Presidential Aspirants Coming Together (PACT) alliance, following the emergence of Fela Durotoye as consensus candidate. While many people question his integrity,
Mr Moghalu said the outcome of the exercise to select a candidate of PACT has “left many Nigerians expressing surprise and disappointment.” “I will remain focused on the objective of providing a competent leadership that will help unite our country and build a nation,” he said.

The former United Nations official also defended his decision saying “The arrangement had unravelled even before the final selection of the consensus candidate. Only seven aspirants participated in the final voting out of the original 18 aspirants, mainly because many of the aspirants had withdrawn from the process. “Four candidates, who were present in the meeting this morning withdrew from the process even while the voting process was ongoing. Therefore, PACT did not produce a truly consensus candidate.” He also referred to a clause in the PACT Memorandum of Understanding that gives him the constitutional right to pursue his political ambition. “Clause 13 of the PACT Memorandum of Understanding asserts the supremacy of the constitutional rights of the aspirants to pursue their political aspirations. I therefore have chosen to continue without distraction to pursue my vision in the presidential race for 2019 in the national interest and in deference to the overwhelming outpouring of support for my candidacy from all parts of Nigeria.”

As against Mr Moghalu’s claims, Mrs Ezekwesili reiterated that the eleven finalised their memorandum of understanding and signed before voting among themselves. The fact that a disagreement such as these just raises questions if these new aspirants are different from the old politicians.

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The most interesting thing in the whole PACTis the clause which says the supremacy of the constitutional rights of the aspirants to pursue their political aspirations. This shows all candidates went into the agreement watching their backs. An agreement signed by 18 people and had just 7 people at the end is flawed on arrival and the election should not have taken place.

Saraki’s Declaration

After the drama between Senate president and the present APC government, no one will say they did not see this coming. Senate President Bukola Saraki formally declared his intention to contest the presidency on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Saraki made the declaration on Thursday in Abuja during his meeting with Not-Too-Young-to Run-Movement.

Opposition Drama

PDP seems to be the go to party for every presidential aspirant now. Since they left power in 2015 after 16 years of leadership, the party has made efforts to rebrand and attract new members with the aim of taking power back from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 elections. This seems to be working however a big problem awaits them if not properly managed.

At present, there are about 14 members of the party jostling for its ticket for the 2019 presidential ticket ahead of its national convention in October.

The aspirants are a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar; a former governor of Kano State and serving senator, Rabiu Kwankwaso; a former governor of Jigawa State and former Foreign Affairs minister, Sule Lamido; a former governor of Kano State and former Minister of Education; Ibrahim Shakarau; and a former governor of Kaduna State and chairman of former National Caretaker Committee of the party, Ahmed Makarfi.

Others are a former governor of Sokoto State and former member of the House of Representatives, Attahiru Bafarawa; Governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo; a former governor of Plateau State and serving senator, David Jang; a former Minister of Special Duties, Tanimu Turaki; and a former member of the House of Representatives, Datti Baba-Ahmed.

Lately the governor of Sokoto State and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, and the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, formally joined the race.

Interestingly, all the aspirants are influential politicians who have the financial means to give the governing party, APC a hot competition in the 2019 presidential poll.

Reportedly none of the aspirants is considering stepping down from the race but would take the battle to the national convention.

The onus lies on PDP to pick an acceptable flag bearer with minimum rancour and still keep the party united. How they intend to do this remains a big mystery and one is just hopely it does not end like the PACT.

It was gathered that the leadership, to avoid rancour and division, may consider getting all the contenders to sign an undertaking to abide by the outcome of the primary as did APC for its aspirants in 2014. Part of the agreements might not only request the losers to strongly back the winner that will eventually emerge, but also to make them pledge not to defect from the party.

Whatever the case may be, may the right man win.

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