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Opposition PDP chooses ex-Vice-President Abubakar as candidate, prompting some in ruling party to rethink regional strategy
When the Independent National Electoral Commission in Abuja announced it would be extending the deadline by six days to 9 June for parties to submit their chosen candidates in the 2023 elections, the governing All Progressives' Congress quickly claimed it had no hand in the move.
Whatever the case, it was welcome news for top officials of the APC who were trying bridge the growing rifts between rival factions of the party over the best candidates for state governorships and the presidency.
As INEC announced the delay, delegates for the opposition People's Democratic Party were converging on Abuja to hold their convention which chose former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar as their presidential candidate late on 28 May. It will be Abubakar's third run for the presidency.
Abubakar, who hails from the north-east state of Adamawa and runs an oil services company, won 371 votes against the 237 votes for Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike who had campaigned energetically as a candidate for the oil-producing south-south region.
Some in the APC are reconsidering the party's commitment to choosing a candidate from the south in the wake of Abubakar's candidacy. They think that coming from the north-east that he will be better placed to win the north-west which has the biggest concentration of voters in the country.
All of the APC's frontrunners are from the south. But in the wake of Atiku Abubakar's emergence as the main opposition candidate, some officials around the Presidency in Aso Rock have started pushing the candidacy of Senate President Ahmad Lawan as a strong contender for the APC.
The party's presidential primaries have already been enlivened by the emergence of several last-minute contenders (AC Vol 63 No 10, Consensus candidate plan upsets the frontrunners).
They include central bank governor Godwin Emefiele and now former President Goodluck Jonathan, who has quit the People's Democratic Party to join the APC, the party that defeated him in 2015.
Emefiele pulled out of the race once it was made it clear that he would have to quit his post at the central bank before formally putting his name forward (AC Vol 63 No 11, President Buhari's edict shakes up presidential race) Jonathan is still in the race, backed by some of President Muhammadu Buhari's close advisors in the villa at Aso Rock for reasons yet to be explained.
The main contenders for the APC's Presidential nomination are still Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Transport Rotimi Amaechi and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu (AC Vol 63 No 8, Vice-President Osinbajo's bid challenges APC leader Tinubu and bank governor Emefiele).
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