Nigeria: Elections - Presidential Candidate Withdraws, Supports Atiku

INEC says there will be no further delays.
20 February 2019

Eunice Atuejide, the presidential candidate of the National Interest Party (NIP), has withdrawn from the now postponed presidential election, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.

In a statement she released early on Wednesday morning, Mrs Atuejide said she stepped down from the election because her race for the presidency was programmed to end on February 16 "and it did."

"Therefore, the Presidential Election proposed to hold on 23rd February 2019 due to the last-minute postponement by INEC does not involve me," Mrs Atuejide, the founder and chairperson of the NIP said.

According to the lawyer, the race is now between President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

Mrs Atuejide said she is now committed to supporting Mr Abubakar of the PDP whom she considers a better candidate.

"I choose to fight for the benefit of every Nigerian on the side of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. I cannot defend PDP for giving us bad leadership from 1999 to 2015, yet I cannot help but blame the APC for doing a much worse job from 2015 to 2019.

"Plus, whether we call them PDP, APC, PPA, ANN, YPP, or NIP, we are all the same people moving from one political platform to the other in search of a place to speak out and be heard.

"To my mind, the political party platform is not the real issue nonetheless, it's either Alhaji Atiku Abubakar under the PDP or President Buhari under the APC this time.

"I make bold to state unequivocally that I stand with Atiku under the PDP this time."

Mrs Atuejide of the NIP has never concealed her criticism of President Buhari and his government.

Last month, she declared President Buhari mentally and physically unfit to continue in office, saying she has commenced legal action to "stop" him.

In a recent interview with PREMIUM TIMES, the lawyer explained why she would use legal actions to "stop" President Buhari from being sworn in if he wins the election.

In Wednesday's statement, Mrs Atuejide gave reasons for declaring support for Mr Abubakar, one of which was his choice of vice president.

Eunice Atuejide, the presidential candidate of the National Interest Party (NIP).

"Mr Abubakar picked an amazing VP. In fact, even though I have never met or spoken

to Peter Obi, it is thanks to him that I am today the Founder and National Chairman of a

youth-led, digitally organised political party (NIP). His exemplary leadership as Governor of Anambra State led me and several of my team members to politics.

She noted that Mr Abubakar will "provide us (Nigerians) with leadership which will always put the interest of Nigerians first."

Poor Outing for Women in Presidential Race

Mrs Atuejide's withdrawal further reduces the number of women in the presidential race.

With 91 political parties now, many believed women had a better chance compared to their five previous outings at the presidential polls.

As at today, however, no fewer than five women have withdrawn from the presidential race even though their names would still appear in the ballot. A total of 73 parties and their candidates will be on the presidential ballot, including those who withdrew after the deadline, INEC stated.

Some of the women who have withdrawn but will still be on the ballot include a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, and Rabia Cengiz of the National Action Council (NAC) and now Mrs Atuejide.

No woman has emerged president, vice president or elected governor in the 19 years of Nigeria's recent democracy.

Since 1999, women have not reached 10 per cent representation in government, a Fact Sheet by Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) shows.

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