Less than three months to Nigeria’s next presidential election, a coalition of opposition parties have adopted a common candidate for what analysts say will be a tough poll.
The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has announced its selection of the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar, as its candidate in the 2019 presidential election.
By this decision, the CUPP which consists of over 46 parties said the other presidential candidates of the member parties had ceased to be the standard bearers of their parties.
Chairman of the CUPP and former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday.
Justifying the selection of Abubakar, a former vice-president, by the coalition, Oyinlola argued that the PDP presidential candidate had met the criteria laid down by CUPP.
These, he said included national acceptability of a candidate and his party, the strength of the structure of the candidate and party in the country and competitiveness of the candidate’s party against the ruling All Progressives Congress candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari.
Oyinlola, who was flanked by other members of the coalition during the conference said, “After a painstaking assessment of what we have in the coalition parties and after processing the candidates’ suitability using these criteria, the steering committee hereby submits that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is the best and his party the most virile of all the options before us.
“We, therefore, chose him as the CUPP candidate for the 2019 presidential election.”
Oyinlola added that the alliance of the opposition parties, including the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Social Democratic Party of Nigeria (SDP), National Conscience Party (NCP), Labour Party (LP), would also be extended to other elections, governorship, national and state parliaments, at the general polls.
“The modalities can be worked out based on the peculiarities and political realities of each state. We must all realise the fact that it is better and wiser to win together than to lose together.”
On the projection by The Economist that the coalition against Buhari would collapse before 2019, Oyinlola said, “Did you see any sign of collapse in the coalition? The Economist will be surprised.”
There are about 90 parties taking part in the presidential election but only the APC and PDP are the real contenders.
General elections will be held in Nigeria on 16 February 2019 to elect the President and the National Assembly while the Governorship and State Assembly/Federal Capital Territory Council elections will hold on 2 March.
The President of Nigeria is elected using a simple majority of the highest votes cast, as well as over 25% of the votes in at least two-thirds of 36 states. The 360 members of the House of Representatives are elected using first-past-the-post voting in single-member constituencies, whilst the 109 members of the Senate are elected from 36 three-seat constituencies based on the States and one single-member constituency based on the Federal Capital Territory, all by first-past-the-post voting.