Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results, but Atiku Abubakar definitely doesn’t play by the rules of random online quotes. The former vice president is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2023 presidential election, but it’s not his first time. In fact, it’s his sixth time trying to become Nigeria’s Number One Citizen.

What's Atiku looking for inside Aso Rock?

How did he fare the first five times? Let’s take a trip down memory lane.


The first time Atiku ran for the presidency, bootcut jeans were the pinnacle of fashion. The man’s been trying to be president longer than Fireboy DML has been alive.

Atiku contested in the primary election of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) for the 1993 presidential election and finished third behind MKO Abiola and Baba Gana Kingibe in the first round of voting. He dropped out of the run-off election after making a deal to become Abiola’s running mate, but Abiola picked Kingibe after winning the ticket. It was Atiku’s first presidential breakfast, but it wasn’t his last.

What's Atiku looking for inside Aso Rock?


After two terms as a vice president, Atiku was ready to step into the big shoes of the presidency. His only problem at the time was President Olusegun Obasanjo. The two had a power struggle for years and accused each other of stealing from Nigeria’s treasury. 

The conflict between the two forced Atiku out of the PDP to the Action Congress (AC) of Bola Tinubu in 2006. The AC practically gifted him the party’s presidential ticket with no contest, and it was his first time on the ballot, but the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) disqualified him over corruption allegations. Atiku fought this exclusion, and the Supreme Court cleared him to participate just days before the election.

That whiff of court victory didn’t follow Atiku into the presidential election. He finished third with 2.6 million votes behind the winner, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who finished with 24.6 million votes and second-placed Muhammadu Buhari with 6.6 million votes. 


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Atiku returned to the PDP like the prodigal son in 2009 and was gearing to go after the presidency again. This time, his main stumbling block was Goodluck Jonathan who had taken over as president following Yar’Adua’s death in 2010. The third time wasn’t the charm for Atiku, as he finished second to Jonathan in the PDP’s primary election and never made it to the ballot. Many feared that it would be the end of Atiku’s run at the top job. If only they knew. 


Atiku was near-certain that he wouldn’t be able to beat Jonathan to the ticket a second time, so he journeyed out of the PDP again. He complained that the party couldn’t be redeemed and joined the All Progressives Congress (APC). According to him, he was putting “Nigeria’s interests” first, but you could bet that was a synonym for “my presidential ambition”. 

What's Atiku looking for inside Aso Rock?

For the 2015 presidential election, Atiku contested for the ticket of the APC where he lost again to an old foe, Buhari. Once again, Atiku didn’t make it to the ballot, and that meant only one thing:


If reading this article this far has taught you anything, it’s that Atiku cannot stay in one place, and he runs for the presidency every chance he gets. In 2017, he left the APC to return, once again, to the PDP. He finally won the party’s presidential ticket for the first time and was on the ballot as the biggest challenger to his old nemesis, President Buhari. Atiku won 11.3 million votes, his highest ever, but it was 3.8 million less than he needed to beat Buhari, who won again in what was the final contest between the two.

What's Atiku looking for inside Aso Rock?

Atiku wants the presidency, no doubt, and has been accused of being too desperate for it. But the real question is does the presidency want him? That’s an answer to look forward to in February 2023.

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