The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar has pledged to unify the country following his victory in the party’s primary poll.
Atiku, a former vice president, polled 371 votes to beat his closest rival and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State who scored 237 votes during the exercise held on Saturday in Abuja. Saraki polled 70 votes. Emmanuel (38), Mohammed (38), Anyim Pius Anyim (14), Mrs Tari Diana Oliver (1), and Sam Ohuabunwa (1) shared the remainder of the valid votes.
“I pledge to unify this country,” he said in his victory speech. “That’s why I refer to myself as a unifier.
“The reason I feel that unity is important is because APC has disunited Nigerians completely,” the PDP chieftain added. “I will work to restore unity and bring a sense of belonging to all Nigerians.”
The Adamawa-born politician accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of mismanaging the country but promised to fix the economy and tackle Nigeria’s security challenges.
“The PDP made Nigeria one of the most prosperous countries in Africa,” Atiku said. “We implemented economic reforms. The APC wiped out all those gains.”
Atiku also called on fellow contestants to work with him and ensure the PDP retakes power in next year’s exercise.
Earlier in the day, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State had withdrawn from the race, asking his supporters to back Atiku.
“I have come to the conclusion – to the glory of God Almighty, seeing millions of Nigerians suffering and the need for us to close ranks in the party and as one of the leaders in this party – I have come to a patriotic conclusion to step down my aspiration,” the former lawmaker told the gathering.
“And not only that, I have appealed to my supporters to take this in good strides and for national unity and patriotism – not only that, those who are delegates here – should vote for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.”
The 2023 election will be the 75-year-old’s sixth attempt for the presidency. In 2019, he was the PDP candidate but lost to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.