In Summary
  • His candidacy has attracted support, scorn and controversy
  • Politician, who rose from humble beginnings, faces corruption allegations
  • But he is also credited with backing of education initiatives, including the creation of the high profile American University of Nigeria in Adamawa State.

LAGOS,

A dogged political veteran, Nigeria's former vice-president Atiku Abubakar is the nearly man of Nigerian politics, whose repeat bids for the presidency have attracted support, scorn and controversy.

Having already stood four times for the top job without success, the 71-year-old was nominated by the main opposition PDP party on Sunday to take on President Muhammadu Buhari in February's election.

GRAFT CLAIMS

Abubakar is credited with having a network of support that could stand his challenge in good stead, as well some goodwill due to his backing of education initiatives, including the creation of the high profile American University of Nigeria in Adamawa State.

But questions over his business interests and repeat allegations of corruption - which he has denied - could potentially harm his presidential ambitions in a country fed up with corruption.

Born in the country's north, Abubakar rose from humble beginnings to become head of the customs service during two decades of military rule in the late 20th century.

The job gave him power and influence, and in 1984 he was accused of allowing a powerful northern leader to pass through Lagos airport unchecked with suitcases stuffed full with cash.

Even for a country used to scandal, the incident caused a furore and Abubakar had to defend himself against claims of flagrantly violating Nigeria's currency import laws.

Amid the corruption allegations, Abubakar is thought to have earned enormous wealth during his time at the customs service and later expanded his business interests into oil, agriculture and other sectors.

EMERGED UNSCATHED

He also developed political interests and first made a tilt at the presidency in 1993 where he lost out in the primaries to tycoon Moshood Abiola.

Page 1 of 2