Abuja, Nigeria: Former Nigeria Vice Presidential, Atiku Abubakar, submitted his presidential nomination form to the national secretariat of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja on Thursday.
He later took to his Twitter account (@atiku) to disclose his desire to win the party’s presidential ticket to enable him compete against President Muhammadu Buhari at next year’s polls.
He tweeted, “I have just submitted my nomination form to the @OfficialPDPNig to officially declare my intention to seek the nomination of the party to run for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the 2019 elections.”
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and his supporters, took over the major streets leading to Wadata Plaza, the headquarters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja, to submit his Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms .
The large crowd of supporters, wearing T-shirts and face caps with the inscription, “Atiku 2019,” rendered vehicular movement delays for motorists, as they drum and sing in praise of a man who is expected to submit his Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms to run for the 2019 Presidential election.
The former vice president was welcomed by hordes of supporters and accompanied by prominent politicians like Senator Ben Murray-Bruce (Bayelsa East – PDP) when he submitted his expression of interest form and nomination form to officially express his interest to contest in the 2019 presidential election.
The Atiku Support Groups (ASG) had bought the forms, a total of N12 million, as a gift and presented them to him at his Presidential Campaign Office in Abuja on Friday, August 31, 2018.
Officers of the Nigeria Police Force had to fire tear gas and shoot warning shots into the air to disperse the crowd of supporters gathered at PDP’s Wadata Plaza on Thursday.
While waiting for Atiku to submit his forms, commotion had broken out in the camp of the youths gathered in front of the party’s secretariat.
The commotion had reportedly resulted in a stampede which injured a few people, forcing officers to disperse the crowd by firing multiple shots in the air.
Although details of the genesis of the chaos are vague as at the time of filing this report, it is generally believed that a group of youths carrying the flags of the All Progressives Congress (APC) joined their PDP counterparts who were at Wadata in solidarity with former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar who was at the party’s headquarters to submit his Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms to contest the 2019 Presidential election.
As the youths threw stones and other dangerous items in several directions, the overwhelmed security personnel stationed at the main gate to Wadata Plaza were left with no option but to open the gate for stranded supporters of the party.
The rush to get into the premises of the party culminated in a stampede, which led to two women sustaining minor injuries.
Men of the Nigerian Police force later made their way to the troubled area and succeeded in restoring normalcy in a matter of minutes.
Meanwhile, Nigerian presidential hopeful Atiku Abubakar has said he will scrap a system of multiple exchange rates to attract foreign investment and accused President Muhammadu Buhari of failing to deal with the nation’s security challenges.
“I would definitely end” the existence of several naira rates, Abubakar, a 71-year-old former vice president, told reporters Monday in Lagos, the commercial capital of Africa’s biggest oil producer. “It’s clearly anti-business and anti-foreign investment.”
Investors and the International Monetary Fund have long called for Nigeria to liberalize its currency regime to boost an economy that’s still struggling after the 2014 crash in crude prices. While he would need more advice before deciding whether to float the naira, it was important to have a “deregulated foreign-exchange market,” Abubakar said in a separate interview.
Abubakar, a Muslim from the north and a father of 26 children, is one of the main contenders to be the candidate of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, which will hold primaries later this year, along with Senate President Bukola Saraki and three former state governors. Abubakar defected from Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress last year, the second time he returned to the PDP in a decade.
Abubakar has been a presidential aspirant in three different parties since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999. He lost to Buhari in the APC primaries in 2015 but supported him as the candidate. Buhari’s victory against then President Goodluck Jonathan marked the first time in Nigeria’s history that an opposition challenger took power through the ballot box.
Buhari may not be willing to leave office if he loses the election in February, Abubakar said.
“He is very stern, very uncompromising and power-drunk,” Abubakar said. “He may not be ready to relinquish power without a fight. I have my fears. There may not be credible elections.”
A former Nigerian Customs Service top official who became a major shareholder in Intels Nigeria Ltd., an oil-service company, he favors regional autonomy and power devolution, a stance that has popular appeal particularly in southern Nigeria.
Abubakar blamed Buhari for failing to diversify the economy from oil and handle security problems ranging from Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency to deadly clashes between farmers and herdsmen.
“It’s been a disappointment,” he said. “We have done very badly as far as the economy, security and the unity of the country are concerned.”
Abubakar said his experience as vice president and in business stood him in good stead to govern Nigeria.
“I have a strong track record,” he said. “The economy did well when we were in government. The private sector was booming. And I’ve been a successful businessman. Buhari has driven out foreign investors.”
Other aspirants that Atiku Abubakar would have to contend with on the platform of PDP are the Senate President, Bukola Saraki; his predecessor, David Mark; Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal; Governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo; a former governor of Kano State, Rabi’u Kwankwaso; a former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido.
Others are Sen. Ahmad Makarfi, a former governor of Kaduna state was also the immediate past National Chairman of PDP; a former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa; a former governor of Plateau State, David Jang; a former Minister of Special Duties, Tanimu Turaki; a former Kaduna North senator, Datti Baba-Ahmed; and former senate President David Mark, the latest to join the race.