Ezekwesili withdraws from presidential race

[FILE] Oby Ezekwesili

The presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria Dr Oby Ezekwesili Thursday withdrew from the race to dislodge President Muhammadu Buhari from Aso Villa, her campaign spokesman Ozioma Ubabukoh said.

She confirmed her exit from the race shortly after Ubabukoh broke the news.

“I have decided to step down from the presidential race and focus on helping to build a Coalition for a viable alternative to the #APCPDP in the 2019 general elections,” Ezekwesili said on Thursday morning.

Ezekwesili, a former World Bank vice president for Africa, was one of the bright sparks in a presidential campaign that has seen the two leading political parties – ruling All Progressives Congress and People’s Democratic Party – regurgitate tired talking points.

Ezekwesili was one of the three candidates that participated in the debate held for presidential candidates on Saturday. The decision to quit came after series of consultations were held in the days after the debate.

She, however, insisted she was ready to help build a viable coalition that will wrestle power from the APC/PDP binary.

“I have not hesitated to offer my willingness to step down my candidacy in order to facilitate the emergence of a strong and viable alternative behind which Nigerians can line up in our collective search for a new beginning,” Ezekwesili said.

A reluctant politician, she told Guardian Life in November 2018 that having to choose between the PDP and APC was not the best way forward for Africa’s most populous country.

“I never had interest in politics. Anyone who knows me knows that I detest politics,” she says. “But I had to get to the place where listening to the political class say to us that we have to choose the lesser of two evils got me infuriated.”

There are now 69 persons in contention to defeat incumbent Buhari at the poll next month. But PDP’s Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president of the country and ex-ally of Buhari, is seen as the main challenger.

Neither of the two men is fit to lead Nigeria, Ezekwesili said.

“This coalition for a viable alternative has now more than ever before become an urgent mission for and on behalf of the citizenry,” she said.

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