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Former Nigerian Military Ruler Seeks Ruling Party Nomination as Presidential Candidate

In Nigeria, two former top government officials say they will seek the ruling party’s nomination for next year’s presidential election. Former military leader Ibrahim Babangida and former vice president Atiku Abubakar have now formally declared their intentions.

The announcements put more pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan to say whether or not he wants to run.

Analysts say the declarations further complicate efforts by the ruling PDP to preserve party unity. They say supporters of some influential members may move to other parties if their preferred candidates fail to clinch the PDP ticket.

The declarations of Babangida and Atiku change the dynamics within the ruling party, according to analyst Abubakar Momoh, who teaches political science at the Lagos State University.

“It is a big deal to the extent that they are big names, but how this will translate into political dividend for these two politicians is something else," he said.

Political dynamics are changing, he says.

“What Atiku was five years ago is not the same kind of personality; it is not the same kind of politician and does not come with the same kind of clout," he said. "What Babangida was 15 years ago, he does not come with same kind of personality and the same kind of political clout.”

Momoh disagrees with those who say the declarations by two formidable northern candidates may prevent President Jonathan from running for the post.

“President Jonathan will still come out to declare because what it does on the surface is the more northern candidates that you have the better for Jonathan. Babangida will pull votes within the PDP; Atiku will pull votes within the PDP,” he said.

The number and caliber of candidates vying for the PDP ticket could drastically affect the party’s chances in the polls, says Momoh.

“Within the PDP, this zoning policy, the way they are pushing it, can actually truly undermine the party. It can lead to a further defection of members as it has done in the past,” he said.