Nigerian Senate President Saraki officially enters race against Buhari

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Senator Bukola Saraki looks on after being elected as the senate president of the 8th Nigeria Assembly in Abuja, Nigeria June 9, 2015. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Nigeria’s Senate President Bukola Saraki said on Thursday he will run for president in 2019, making him the highest profile contender to incumbent Muhammadu Buhari announced so far.

FILE PHOTO – REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

“Why are we not growing? There is no time to waste,” Saraki said while announcing his candidacy on Thursday in Abuja.

Saraki recently defected from the ruling party to the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and will have to win the PDP primary election before contesting for the presidency.

“I thus announce my intention to compete for the position of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and to participate in the general elections of 2019 under the banner of the Democratic People’s Party (PDP),” Saraki announced.

President Buhari has said that he will run for a second term in 2019.

Mr. Buhari, the former military dictator won the office in 2015 with vows to fight widespread corruption and Boko Haram extremists in Africa’s most populous nation. Both have proven to be difficult tasks.

The 75-year-old has also repeatedly faced questions about his health after extended stays in Britain for health treatment, while offering few details.