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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

African leaders seek change in fight against terrorism at Nigerian summit   

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At a security summit in Nigeria, African leaders have called for a revamp of institutions that fight violent extremism on the continent.

The leaders also began to push to set up a standing military force and give the government more power over efforts to keep the peace.

Attacks on citizens and the military have been happening all the time in Africa, including in the Sahel, Somalia, and Mozambique, by groups with ties to Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo said that coastal states like Togo were facing more threats, even though people were being attacked the most in the Sahel.

“I say this with prudence and regret, but I think the institutions that have been in place for several decades are no longer able to respond to the security situation that we face,” said Gnassingbe.

Moussa Faki, chairman of the African Union Commission, reported that between 2017 and 2021, there were four attacks and 18 deaths a day in Africa. Last year, there were eight attacks and 44 deaths a day.

The AU chief added that last year 7,000 citizens and 4,000 military members were killed stressing that the situation was being used in some countries as a reason for military coups. The Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Amina Mohammed, said that half of all terrorist deaths happened in the Sahel.

Until a military coup in July that called for France to leave, Niger was the West’s last major ally in the central Sahel area south of the Sahara Desert. In July, France pulled out 1,500 troops from Niger.

Faki said that Africa needed more money to help stop the spread of terrorism. Bola Tinubu, the president of Nigeria, said that more needed to be done to stop the spread of small guns and weapons. He also called for the creation of a regional standby force whose job it would be to fight terrorism.

“I am mindful of the funding, legal and logistical complexities that face the proper establishment of such a force. Such a force can stand as a strong deterrent to large scale and protracted terrorist operations and the capture, occupation or disruption of strategic land and resources,” Tinubu said.

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Togo’s civil society, opposition plan mass protests following constitutional review

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Some of Togo’s opposition parties and civil society groups have called for mass protests again on Saturday following lawmakers’ approved changes to the country’s constitution a week ago.

The legislation is widely believed to enhance the continued stay of President Faure Gnassingbe in power after 19-year rule. The opposition group Dynamique Pour la Majorité du Peuple (DMP) and other signatories said in a statement that the changes to presidential term limits and how presidents are chosen were just a political move to let Gnassingbe stay in office forever.

“What happened at the National Assembly yesterday is a coup d’etat,” they said in the statement that reiterated calls for the population to mobilise against the changes.

“Large-scale action will be organised over the next few days to say ‘no’ to this constitution,” they said. In Friday’s vote, lawmakers unanimously approved an amended charter under which the president will no longer be elected by universal suffrage, but by members of parliament.

The amendments also set up a parliamentary system of government and cut presidential terms from five years to four years, with a maximum of two terms. Since the changes don’t consider time already spent in office, Gnassingbe could stay in power until 2033 if he is re-elected in 2025. This is very likely because his party controls the parliament in Togo, where his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, took power in a coup in 1967.

The most valuable company in Abu Dhabi has made an offer of more than $1 billion to buy a 51% stake in Vedanta Resources’ copper assets in Zambia, according to two people who know about the situation.

In the past few years, the Central African Republic, Rwanda, the Congo Republic, the Ivory Coast, and Guinea are just a few of the African countries that have changed their constitutions and other laws to allow leaders to serve longer terms.

In the last three years, there have been eight military coups in West and Central Africa as well. As they were during his father’s long rule, violent police crackdowns on political protests have been common in Togo under Gnassingbe, who was returned in a landslide in 2020 that the opposition says was rigged.

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