Bring Back our Girls activist and former Nigerian minister Oby Ezekwesili has withdrawn her candidacy from next month’s presidential elections, a statement on her website confirmed Thursday morning.
Ezekwesili said she took the decision to withdraw from the February 16 polls in order to form a coalition capable of defeating the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the major opposition party.
“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,” the statement read.
“This coalition for a viable alternative has now more than ever before become an urgent mission for and on behalf of the citizenry.
“Over the past three months, I have been in private extended talks with other candidates to make a coalition possible that would allow Nigerians to exercise choice without feeling helplessly saddled with the #APCPDP.”
Next month’s election is seen by many as a two-horse race between incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC and Nigeria’s former vice-president Atiku Abubakar of the PDP.
Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) declared her intention to run for Nigerian president last October.
She vowed to “disrupt the politics of failure” in Africa’s most populous nation, in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in November.
Ezekwesili said bad governance had become endemic in Nigeria and citizens no longer hold leaders accountable for corruption or corrupt acts.
“It [Nigerian politics] produced dismal results such that today Nigeria is the world’s capital of extreme poverty,” she said at the time.
Ezekwesili said she is stepping down to form a coalition under the Presidential Aspirants Coming Together (PACT), an umbrella body of more than 10 presidential candidates from different political parties.
Ezekwesili is one of the co-founders of Transparency International, a global watchdog fighting corruption and served as Nigeria’s minister of education in 2006.
She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and was a founding member of the Bring Back Our Girls group calling for the safe return of kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by terror group Boko Haram since 2014.