Nigeria’s leading female presidential candidate has withdrawn from the crowded field of candidates to help build a viable coalition to take on the country’s two main parties.
Oby Ezekwesili announced she was dropping out as a candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria in a series of tweets Thursday. The former government minister and former president of the World Bank said the need for an alternative to President Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressives Congress and the main opposition People’s Democratic Party is “an urgent mission for and on behalf of the citizenry.”
Ezekwesili was one of 73 candidates running for the February 16 elections, but many believe the race is between President Buhari and Atiku Abubakar, the leader of the PDP. The PDP governed Nigeria from 1999, the year civilian rule was restored, and Buhari’s victory in 2015.
The 55-year-old Ezekwesili led the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign that raised awareness of the 270 girls who were kidnapped from their school in the northwest town of Chibok in 2014 by the Boko Haram militant group. She is also a co-founder of the anti-corruption group Transparency International.