Nigeria’s Senate leader Bukola Saraki will vie for the presidency in next year’s election, joining former vice president Atiku Abubakar as high-profile challengers to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari’s quest for a new term.
Saraki announced his intention on Thursday, saying the West African country’s economy was “broken and in need of urgent revival”.
A group of other opposition parties earlier this year also pledged to front a joint candidate in the vote.
“GDP growth rate has declined. Diversification remains an illusion. Unemployment is at an all-time high. Businesses are shutting down. Jobs are being lost in record numbers, and the capital needed to jumpstart our economy is going elsewhere,” Saraki said at a political event in the capital Abuja.
The former state governor is currently Nigeria’s third most senior political figure, after the president and the vice president.
Senior political leaders have in the past urged President Buahri not to seek a new mandate, citing his health. This year, the 75-year-old has spent lengthy periods abroad seeking medical attention for an undisclosed illness. He is however adamant that he is of good health, and can continue running Africa’s biggest economy.
The Nigeria elections are scheduled to be conducted on 16 February 2019.