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Nigeria's Ruling PDP Picks Presidential Candidate, but Choice is Met with Skepticism

Nigeria’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party has picked the reclusive governor of the northern state of Katsina as its presidential candidate. Umaru Yar'Adua beat 11 other contestants. But the emergence of Yar'Adua has been met with skepticism by analysts divided on whether he is the right man to lead Africa's most populous nation.

Lai Mohamed is a political analyst and publicity secretary of the rival Action Congress Party (AC). He says the selection of Yar’Adua opens up the race for more high profile candidates.

“His emergence is a surprise but we welcome it. The PDP, however, does not stand any chance of winning the election because the two most prominent opposition parties, the All Nigerian Progressives Party and my party, have resolved to present a single candidate for the election, and Yar’Adua can be defeated.“

Mohammed says the AC would likely present incumbent vice-president Atiku Abubakar as its candidate and would defeat the PDPP candidate in all the states of Nigeria.

“With all due respect, you cannot compare Abubakar to Yar’Adua. A few months ago the PDPP candidate was a political unknown and the process through which he was selected has opened up divisions among the party with large defections expected. He does not have a solid party structure to run on, unlike Abubakar, who is popular all over the country.,” he says

He says the perceived influence of President Olusegun Obasanjo would not be enough to ensure a Yar’Adua victory. “The failed bid to change the Constitution for a third term for Obasanjo shows the limit of presidential power. Nigerians will reject the imposition of Yar’Adua by the president and would elect a president of their choice and we hope it would be our candidate Abubakar.”