About four months after she launched her presidential bid, the presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, has withdrawn from the presidential race — four weeks to the elections, which will hold on February 16.
In a statement released this morning, Dr. Ezekwesili said she stepped down from the election to help build a coalition to defeat the ruling party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the major opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the upcoming election:
"Following the reactions of Nigerian citizens at home and abroad to the 2019 Presidential Debate held on Saturday 19 January 2019, and after extensive consultations with leaders from various walks of life across the country over the past few days, I have decided to step down from the presidential race and focus on helping to build a Coalition for a viable alternative to the #APCPDP in the 2019 general elections.
This coalition for a viable alternative has now more than ever before become an urgent mission for and on behalf of the citizenry."
It's worth noting that before her declaration for the office of president, Ezekwesili officiated the PACT primary elections — an earlier coalition where third force candidates like Fela Durotoye and Kingsley Moghalu came together to field a candidate to go against the two major candidates.
Fela Durotoye emerged the winner of that coalition, and it was presumed that all the other candidates would throw their weight behind him to make him a formidable candidate against APC's Buhari and PDP's Atiku Abubakar.
Two weeks after PACT, Ezekwesili declared her run for the presidency. Then, it was also after "extensive consultations with leaders from various walks of life". Admittedly, she did seem to have the interests of ordinary Nigerians at heart, as she showed more empathy than any other candidate.
"Despite disagreements within the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria on these and other issues, I have decided that it is now necessary to show by action and example my determination on this issue by stepping down my candidacy and focusing on building the coalition once and for all.
We have no right to allow citizens give in to despair. We will #Fight4Naija together, and prove to all that the mess that has now become the political class will not be allowed to destroy our spirits and the nation. We are also determined to ensure that the message keeps resonating that our beloved country deserves better and that we will get the best that we deserve."
It sounds noble and maybe it is, but realistically, a coalition cannot be built in four weeks. A coalition cannot even be built in 4 months. And it would seem like the #Fight4Naija has been postponed for another 4 years — or whatever times it takes to build a formidable coalition.
You can read Dr. Oby Ezekwesili's full statement here.