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Hats in, cards out as Nigeria’s ex-vice president, Atiku Abubakar, declares interest in 2023 race

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Former Nigerian Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has asked members of the Board of Trustees of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to support his ambition to become Nigeria’s next president.

Atiku made the appeal when he hosted the BoT members during a Consultative meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, asking the elders of the party to work with him to clinch the presidency in 2023 or “we all retire together.”

He stressed that his vision was to build bridges across the country and called on the BoT members to join him in building bridges so that every part of this country will have a sense of belonging.

Since his entry into politics in 1993, Atiku Abubakar has unsuccessfully contested to be Nigeria’s president five times. In 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019.

In 1993, he contested the Social Democratic Party presidential primaries losing to Moshood Abiola and Baba Gana Kingibe. He was a presidential candidate of the Action Congress in the 2007 presidential election coming in third to Umaru Yar’Adua of the PDP and Muhammadu Buhari of the ANPP.

He contested the presidential primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party during the 2011 presidential election losing out to incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. In 2014, he joined the All Progressives Congress ahead of the 2015 presidential election and contested the presidential primaries losing to Muhammadu Buhari. In 2017, he returned to the Peoples Democratic Party and was the party presidential candidate during the 2019 presidential election, again losing to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.

With Nigeria’s current president being from the Northern part of the country, there have been calls for Nigeria’s major parties to reserve the role of presidential aspirants in an arrangement known as “zoning” for candidates from the South Eastern part of Nigeria. The region has yet to produce a president since a military coup ousted Nigeria’s first president – Nnamdi Azikiwe since her political independence in 1960.

In the last presidential elections, Atiku Abubakar had a running mate from the  Eastern region of Nigeria in Peter Obi who has hinted that he would contest for Nigeria’s top job if his party the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) zones  the position in his region.

Speaking on the vexed issue of zoning, Atiku asked members of the PDP not to be asking for zoning just because the APC has zoned their positions, adding that “we invented and formulated this zoning policy simply because we wanted every part of this country to have a sense of belonging and I personally have paid my dues on the issue of zoning.

“Therefore, you cannot come and try to imply that the PDP has not been following the zoning policy. The many years of PDP government eight years and six years all of them were from the south. So we should not be stampeded by the opposition party. They have a moral obligation.”

The presidential hopeful also warned that the party might not survive another eight years as an opposition party.

“I am worried and you should be worried too that if we do not win, it means we will be in opposition again for the next eight years. By the next eight years, I don’t know how many of us will be left in politics and it may even ultimately lead to the death of the party because people gravitate, particularly in developing countries, towards governments. So this is a very crucial and historical moment in history, for our survival.”

Politics

Kenya’s Ruto sacks cabinet amidst protests in major win for protesters

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In response to pressure from widespread protests that have produced the greatest crisis of his two-year government, Kenyan President William Ruto dismissed his entire cabinet on Thursday, with the exception of the foreign minister.

After beginning peacefully, the youth-led demonstrations against the proposed tax increases descended into violence, resulting in at least 39 deaths during altercations with the police last month. A few protestors briefly invaded the parliament before Ruto decided against the new levies.

“I will immediately engage in extensive consultations across different sectors and political formations and other Kenyans, both in public and private, with the aim of setting up a broad-based government,” Ruto said in a televised address to the nation, adding that he would announce additional measures later.

In addition, he fired the attorney general but claimed that this had no bearing on the deputy president’s position.

Kenyans had been requesting significant cabinet changes, seasoned anti-corruption activist John Githongo told Reuters.

“Let us see what happens now if the new ministers deal with big issues around corruption and just the arrogance and excess of his administration and the fact that a lot of Kenyans died during the demonstrations,” he said.

“Hopefully this should temporarily calm things.”

Ruto finds himself torn between a beleaguered populace reeling from the rising expense of living and lenders like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressuring him to reduce deficits. He suggested borrowing more money and cutting spending in approximately equal proportions last week to close the nearly $2.7 billion budget deficit left by the removal of the tax rises.

Although the government has no outstanding debt, many claim that Kenya is likely to miss its IMF targets as a result of the tax rollback. For the fiscal year that began on July 1, the estimated budget deficit is currently 4.6% of GDP.

Dismissing so many cabinet members, according to Ojango Omondi, a community organizer from the Social Justice Centers Working Group in Nairobi, was a “move towards justice,” but activists would want to see who Ruto chooses to replace them.

“It’s one thing to dismiss, the second is to ensure that the people that will be chosen in the cabinet are accountable to the constitution and the rule of law,” Omondi said.

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South Sudan’s president dismisses 6th finance minister since 2020

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Four months into the position, South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, has fired the finance minister, the sixth person to hold the position since 2020, according to state-run television.

The report stated late on Wednesday that Kiir did not explain the dismissal of Awow Daniel Chuong, who was appointed in mid-March of this year. Economist Marial Deng has been selected to take over as finance minister in Kiir’s place.

Due to intercommunal violence, South Sudan’s economy has been under strain recently. Since the civil war that lasted from 2013 to 2018, revenue from crude oil exports has decreased, and more recently, export disruptions have occurred because of the conflict in neighbouring Sudan.

The governor of the central bank, James Alic Garang, declared in May that the foreign exchange reserves of South Sudan had reached all-time lows.

This year, the International Monetary Fund predicts that consumer price inflation will soar to 54.8%.

After South Sudan separated from Sudan in 2011, Kiir was elected as the country’s first president.

In December, the nation is scheduled to elect a president, members of the legislature, and regional delegates.

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