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Amid coalition talks: Atiku declares interest in 2027 presidential election

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has said he will continue to vie for the number one office in the land as long as he is alive and healthy.

Atiku, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 and 2023 presidential elections, while justifying the number of times he had contested without making headway, said even the former President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, contested seven times before his eventual victory.

The former VP made the revelation about his intention to vie for the 2027 presidential election during an interview on the Hausa service of the Voice of America.

“Of course, I will keep contesting again and again as long as I am alive and healthy,” Atiku said. “Even the former US President Abraham Lincoln contested seven times before finally winning.”

His decision comes amidst speculations that he was working on a merger or alliance with Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 election, and other opposition leaders to oust the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2027. But former Director-General of the LP Presidential Campaign Council, Akin Osuntokun, said the only condition that can make Obi consider returning to the PDP is if he will be given the presidential ticket.

In an interview with the BBC last week, Atiku said only the people and the party would decide his fate for the 2027 election, adding that it was too early to decide whether he would vie for the presidency or not in the next election cycle.

He had also noted that his recent meeting with Obi could be a signal of a possible buildup for the 2027 general election.

“This is to anybody who thinks there is going to be a misunderstanding between me and Obi; let me assure you that not even a small issue is going to happen between us,” Abubakar said.

“Also, we are going to be behind anybody that will be chosen to represent us in the forthcoming elections.

“I have made it clear in my previous speeches that if our parties are going to merge to agree on a candidate from the south-east, as long as he is qualified, we will allow it.”

The 77-year-old, who will be 81 in 2027 for the country’s next general election, also spoke in the VOA interview about the current crisis in the PDP, affirming that its members have to be united to win the election.

“However, given the current state of the PDP, it is clear that a single-handed effort will not suffice to win the election. Strong support and collaboration with other parties are required,” he added.

Atiku has made a record six attempts to be the president of Nigeria: in 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019, and 2023. He ran in the Social Democratic Party presidential primaries in 1993 but lost to the late business mogul and politician, Moshood Abiola.

He was a presidential candidate of the Action Congress in the 2007 presidential election, coming in third to Umaru Yar’adua of the PDP and Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).

He then contested the presidential primaries of the PDP during the 2011 presidential election, losing out to incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.

In 2014, he joined the APC ahead of the 2015 presidential election and contested the presidential primaries, losing to Muhammadu Buhari. In 2017, he returned to the PDP and was the party presidential candidate during the 2019 presidential election, again losing to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.

The latest contest Atiku participated in was in 2023, where he lost to President Bola Tinubu.

Declaration will not affect planned coalition – Yunusa

But reacting, the spokesman of the Peter Obi Presidential Campaign in the last election, Dr. Tanko Yunusa, has said that the declaration by Atiku will not affect the planned coalition by opposition parties.

Yunusa told Daily Trust that if the coalition works out, its leaders will decide who will lead, not an individual. However, he suggested that the PDP presidential candidate in the last election would be making the right decision if he decided to support Peter Obi in the coming elections.