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Oby Ezekwesili quits Nigeria presidential race, her party moves support to Buhari

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Oby Ezekwesili quits Nigeria presidential race, her party moves support to Buhari

Nigeria’s lead female presidential Obiageli Ezekwesili has withdrawn from the race with just 22 days left to the much hyped polls. And soon after her running mate 

Alhaji Gani Galadima, announced that her party – the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) will instead support the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari re-election.

In a statement released Thursday (24 January) she said she was stepping aside from “to help build a coalition to defeat” the two main contenders – incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari ruling All Progressives Congress and main challenger Atiku Abubakar’s and his People’s Democratic Party. The elections are slated for 16 February. By Friday, in a separate statement, she also added that she was terminating her membership of the ACPN all together, But soon after, the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said Dr Ezekwesili could not withdraw from  the race – which s just 3 weeks away. According to a local report  quoting  

NEC Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi: “The Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 General Elections, the last day for withdrawal by candidates or replacement of withdrawn candidates by political parties was 17th November, 2018 for Presidential and National Assembly Elections…Therefore, the deadline for Ezekwesili or any candidate in that category to withdraw or be replaced has passed.”

The situation is still developing. Ezekwesili, who only announced her candidacy in October 2018, explains that her decision to withdraw from the race, is also prompted by an examination of the country’s electoral environment sequel to the 2019 presidential debate of Saturday, 19 January, 2019. “This decision followed extensive consultations with leaders from various walks of life across the country over the past few days. I deem it necessary for me to focus on helping to build a veritable coalition to ensure a viable alternative to the APC and PDP in the forthcoming elections,” she said in the statement adding: “It is my ardent belief that this broad coalition for a viable alternative has now become more than ever before, an urgent mission for and on behalf of Nigerian citizens. I have therefore chosen to lead the way in demonstrating the much needed patriotic sacrifice for our national revival and redirection. I wish to state that over the past three months, I have been in private, but extended talks with other candidates to birth a coalition that would allow Nigerians to exercise their choice without feeling helplessly encumbered by the evil twins of APC and PDP.”  “My commitment to this promising political recalibration has been consistent and in consonance with my agreement, at the request of candidates under the Presidential Aspirants Coming Together (PACT) arrangement in 2018, when I consented to supervise the internal selection process as an outside observer passionate about building an alternative force,” says the former World Bank Vice President for Africa and ex Nigerian Education Minister who is also renown for her activism in the Bring Back Our Girls campaign.      

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Written by Regina Jane Jere

reGina Jane Jere is a Zambian-born London-based journalist and founding Editor of the New African Woman magazine the sister-publication of the New African magazine of which she was the Deputy Editor for over a decade. The mother of two juggles a wide-range of editorial and managerial duties, but she has particular passion on women’s health, education, rights and empowerment. She is also a former Zambian correspondent for Agence France Presse, and a former Africa Researcher at Index on Censorship. She writes extensively on a wide range of issues, from politics to women’s rights, media and free speech to beauty and fashion.

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