NewsWest AfricaNigeria opposition target forgotten vote

Sat,15Dec2018

Posted on Thursday, 29 November 2018 16:01

Nigeria opposition target forgotten vote

By Reuters
 

Nigeria former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, and current Presidential aspirant, speaks during an interview, at his residence, in Abuja, Nigeria, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011. Photo: Sunday Alamba/AP/SIPAThe main opposition candidate in Nigeria's upcoming elections in February has picked a running mate from the South-East region, a mostly non-voting Igbo area. 

Southeastern Nigeria often feels far removed from national elections. But the main opposition candidate has a new secret weapon. His running mate.

Atiku Abubakar has chosen Peter Obi - an influential politician from region, which is mostly ethnically Igbo.

Here voter apathy is high. Out of a population 67 million, only 11% are registered to vote and many feel neglected by the government.

In the markets of Ontisha city the current president is deeply unpopular.

Igbo vote could be decisive

By picking a local politician - Abubakar is banking on a previously untapped voter resource. He already has support in the southwest.

President Buhari is popular across the North. But disliked in the Southeast for sending troops to quash a secessionist movement last year.

It brought back memories of the Biafran war - a short-lived, mostly Igbo state. A million died, many from starvation.

Igbos have complained of being marginalized ever since and since democracy returned to Nigeria in 1999 there has never been an Igbo President or Vice President.

The ruling party say criticism is based on ethnic prejudice. And point to Buhari's anti-corruption drive.

But Abubakar has another incentive - the promise of more devolution and with most experts predicting a tight race, the Igbo vote could be decisive.



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