Nigeria: For the Sixth Time, Atiku Declares Presidential Bid

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar declared his presidential aspiration yesterday in Abuja, saying Nigeria is a sinking ship that must be rescued urgently.

It was the sixth time Atiku would be bidding for the presidential seat since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999.

The former vice president said the 2023 presidential election was a referendum for Nigerians to choose between greatness and continued destruction as well as backwardness.

Atiku’s presidential declaration came as former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, intensified consultation with Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stakeholders, including senators and members of the House of Representatives over his presidential bid.

Atiku had contested against Chief MKO Abiola in 1993 on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He contested again in 2007 on the platform of the defunct Action Congress (AC). He contested under PDP in 2011, on the platform of APC in 2015, and under PDP in 2019.

Speaking at the ceremony, Atiku said the 2023 general election was not the usual selection of those who would govern the country. But, “It is a referendum to decide whether we want greatness or continuous destruction. It is a choice between two paths: the path of unity and progress or the path of division and backwardness,” he said.

The former vice president stressed, “We need a new kind of leadership that will steer us to a positive path. In 2023, we want a president, who has ideas on how to fix Nigeria. We want a president who understands, who inspires and is empathetic.

“As the election is fast approaching, we should not be distracted from the devastating conditions we are in now. The ruling party wants to divide us; they want to divide us along the political, ethnic, and religious lines so that we forget to blame them for the rising inflation.

“They want to distract us from holding them responsible for the insecurity and rising poverty. They want us to be facing each other and hating one another. We should focus on the issues, not our differences. Let us unite and fight our common enemies: the lack of unity, insecurity, poverty, inflation, and unemployment.

“That is what this election is about. I have no doubt in my mind that we, as Nigerians, can do it. We did it in 1993. We can do it in 2023. We must stand firm, get our PVCs, come out en masse, cast our votes, and protect it against any manipulation.”

He recounted his previous presidential bids, saying his motivation has always been to rekindle the Nigerian dream.

Atiku said, “I have contested for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria a couple of times in the past. My enduring persistence is borne out of my passion to rekindle the Nigerian dream that I was privileged to live.

“Nigeria is a land of possibility. There is no challenging background that will make any Nigerian give up. I am a living witness to what is possible in Nigeria.”

Tracing his political history, Atiku said, “Who could have ever imagined, an 11-year-old village orphan, who had to rear other people’s cattle to raise money to feed his family, would have the opportunity to go to school for free, rise through the cadre of a decent profession, establish successful businesses, and become the vice president of this country?

“That is the Nigerian dream and that is my story. That is the possibility I want to pass to you and your children. No matter your current circumstances, that should not limit your success in life. There should not be any limit to what you want to achieve if you are willing to work for it.

“That is my dream for Nigeria. However, that is not possible without credible and visionary leadership, and that is what I want to offer to Nigerians.”

Doubling down on his aspiration, Atiku said, “You and I know that Nigeria is in dire need of visionary leadership. Our fundamental principles and purpose as a nation have never been challenged as it is today.

“Presently, Nigeria is a sinking ship; it must be rescued urgently. That is why I am happy to announce my candidacy for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“I offer myself to rescue the sinking ship. Under my captainship, this ship will sail to a brighter course by the grace of God. However, this journey is not mine alone. It is a journey I am taking for all Nigerians. It is also a journey to a destination I planned with my late great mentor, Major General Shehu Musa Yar’adua.”

Meanwhile, Saraki continued consultation for his own presidential ambition by meeting with PDP senators and House of Representatives members. He first met the members of the PDP House of Representatives at the residence of the House Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, and later, the PDP senators at the residence of Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe.

Elumelu, in his address, called for unity of all the presidential aspirants in their campaigns and cautioned against unnecessary antagonism among the presidential hopefuls. He said it was unity of purpose that would ultimately guarantee victory for PDP in 2023.

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