Nigeria’s Senate Bukola Saraki said on Thursday he will run for president in 2019, making him the highest profile contender to incumbent Muhammadu Buhari announced so far.
Saraki, Nigeria’s third most senior political official, made the announcement at a political event, where he was addressing young people in the capital Abuja.
“I thus announce my intention to compete for the position of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and to participate in the general elections of 2019 under the banner of the Democratic People’s Party (PDP),” Saraki announced.
He recently defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and will have to win the PDP primary election before contesting for the presidency.
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that he will run for a second term in 2019.
The road to 2019
Saraki will now vie with other candidates, including former vice president Atiku Abubakar, to represent the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and a group of other opposition movements, who agreed in July to field a joint contender.
“GDP growth rate has declined. Diversification remains an illusion. Unemployment is at an all-time high. Businesses are shutting down. Jobs are being lost in record numbers, and the capital needed to jumpstart our economy is going elsewhere,” Saraki said at a political event in the capital Abuja.
Fighting within the APC coalition, which united to unseat Buhari’s predecessor rather than because of ideological unity, has mounted for years in a struggle for power and influence between those loyal to the head of state and others who say they have been targeted in a witch-hunt by the presidency.
Divisions emerged publicly in the weeks following the APC’s conference in June where new party leaders were elected. Others saw their hopes of greater powers within the party dashed just months before the presidential and legislative elections.