Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has declared political support for Atiku Abubakar, the 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“I made a vow to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that I will support whoever emerges from the #PDPPresidentialPrimaries,” Mr Wike said in a statement posted on Facebook and Twitter, on Monday. “And I am not going to go back on my word.”
“We cannot abandon the PDP, we will be fully supporting Atiku Abubakar,” said the governor who lost the PDP presidential primary on Saturday to Mr Abubakar, a former vice president of Nigeria.
This is the first time Governor Wike is making a public statement after losing the primary.
The statement came a few hours after Mr Abubakar visited Mr Wike in Abuja, apparently to appeal for support from the Rivers governor.
Mr Abubakar scored 371 votes to defeat Mr Wike, who came second with 237 votes.
A former president of the Nigerian Senate, Bukola Saraki came third, with 70 votes, while the Akwa Ibom Governor, Udom Emmanuel, came fourth, with 38 votes.
Political analysts believe Mr Wike could probably have scored more votes if not for the last-minute withdrawal of the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, from the primary.
Mr Tambuwal had asked his supporters to vote for Mr Abubakar.
Both Mr Saraki and Emmanuel have also declared support for Mr Abubakar.
Mr Emmanuel, in his message of congratulations on Sunday to Mr Abubakar, said the former vice president “has the capacity to rescue the country from the pangs of insecurity, economic gloom and disunity”.
“I urge all our party members and Nigerians to rally support for the emergence of Mr Abubakar as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, come 2023,” he added.
Mr Abubakar is an astute entrepreneur from Adamawa State who served as vice president of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007 under President Olusegun Obasanjo.
He was also the PDP presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections, where he lost to the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari.
Since joining politics, Mr Abubakar has contested for president of Nigeria as a candidate two times -2007 and 2019- without success. 2023 will be his third attempt, though he had previously run as an aspirant on the platforms of some political parties in the past but failed to clinch their presidential tickets.