The Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) has denied the party’s flag bearer Rabiu Kwankwaso will drop out of the race for Nigeria’s top job.
Folashade Aliu, Mr Kwankwaso’s campaign secretary said her principal is on course to victory and will not step down for any other presidential candidate. Specifically, she disclaimed reports that Mr Kwankwaso will end his presidential candidacy for Atiku Abubakar of Nigeria’s main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In his widely watched interview last month, Mr Abubakar told BBC Hausa that he is “discussing” with Kwankwaso and it’s “possible” that the former Kano State governor steps down for him in the presidential race.
Mr Kwankwaso was quick to rubbish the former vice president’s claims saying he was “disappointed” and that he has not “set his eyes” on the PDP candidate for one year. Kwankwaso described his NNPP as a viable alternative to the ruling APC and the PDP.
Ms Aliu, the NNPP campaign secretary, said: “Atiku is synonymous with non-performance. He is desperate and he cannot lay his hand on anything he has done successfully for the country and that’s why he’s initiating this discussion of Kwankwaso stepping down for him.”
A former minister of defence, Mr Kwankwaso, was in the PDP until he took over the NNPP last May. The former Kano governor ran for the APC ticket in 2014, shortly after defecting with other PDP governors to the then-new party. By 2018, he had returned to the PDP and again ran unsuccessfully for the presidential ticket of the party.
He got the ticket of the NNPP on the first try and his supporters expect him to sweep the poll, at least in the North.
“The NNPP has been campaigning vigorously,” Ms Aliu told PREMIUM TIMES, adding, “they will not be distracted by what is being said in the media.”
She accused the PDP’s candidate of using surrogates to send propaganda and attempts to manipulate their supporters. “It’s a deliberate attempt to incite our supporters and trigger violence,” Ms Aliu said. “Some of our supporters are committed and dedicated to the Kwankwaso presidential project and some of these claims can be a trigger.”
It’s three days to the much-awaited 2023 general elections, one that many consider to be the most consequential since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999. The ballot on election day 25 February will have the symbols of 18 parties, down from the 79 that stood in the previous poll of 2019.
The media long dubbed it a four-horse race. This assessment put the candidates of the two major parties, APC and PDP as well as Peter Obi of Labour Party and Mr Kwankwaso as the only contestants who can win the election. The 14 other candidates have not been visible in the campaigns and only on Friday, five of their parties announced their endorsement of Atiku of the PDP.
However, Ms Aliu of the NNPP, alleged that Mr Abubakar has run out of “ideas and energy” to carry out the job for the highest office of the land. The former vice president was the PDP flag bearer in 2019 and retained the ticket at the party’s primary in May 2022. This is his sixth presidential race in 30 years.