- Nigeria's ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) officials could not hold their anger against the Vice President Atiku Abubakar for choosing to contest the country's Presidential elections on an opposition ticket. Their reaction was to expel Mr Abubakar from the PDP without hesitation.
On Wednesday, Mr Abubakar was selected as the Presidential candidate of Action Congress.
Atiku, who had been at loggerheads with President Olusegun Obasanjo, was not chosen to be the flag bearer of the PDP. Instead, Governor Yar'Aduah became the party's presidential candidate. Mr Abubakar - a popular politician in Nigeria - was left with no option than to seek the support of an opposition party.
But reports said the National Executive Committee of the PDP had asked President Obasanjo to fill the position of Mr Abubakar - who was the deputy leader of the party - citing Article 142 of the constitution, which says the Vice President and President shall be in the same political party.
Mr Abubakar's spokesman, Garba Shehu, said the move is unconstitutional because under the constitution, the Vice President can only be leave office through impeachment, death or voluntary resigning.
"He and the President won an election on a joint ticket," Mr Garba said, adding that Mr Abubakar had earlier tendered his resignation letter from PDP before being chosen to lead Action Congress.
The Nigerian Vice President has been indicted by the national anti-graft agency for embezzling millions of dollars from the public coffers but Mr Abubakar said he was a victim of a political vendetta. He said he fell apart with Obasanjo after he had challenged his bid to change the constitution to allow for a third term.
Meanwhile, officials of Nigeria's electoral commission said over 50 persons had filed their papers to contest the presidential elections and that nominations closed Friday. Notable candidates include Atiku Abubakar, the former military ruler, Muhammed Buhari of All Nigeria Peoples Party and Yar'Adua of the PDP.
Another former military ruler, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, backed out of the race after he had failed to secure support from the ruling PDP.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous country with huge natural resources, has been ruled by the military for decades until 1999, when democracy surfaced in the country after the sudden death of a dictator. However, the country is ruled by a former military chief, as President Obasanjo earlier was a military transitional leader.
Independent in 1960, Nigeria is today counted among the major producers of oil in the world. However, the country's successive leaders were accused of not entrenching poverty in the country, especially the oil-rich areas, which have been deprived of development.
This has not changed under President Obasanjo's rule and the Nigerian oil-rich delta is plagued with armed conflicts. None of the presidential contesters have so far come up with a good concept to resolve Nigeria's north-south and resource allocation problems.
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