The Presidential Candidates: As of January, Only 26 of the 50 Political Parties Had Submitted the Names of Their Presidential Candidates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). of the 26, Seven Did Not Submit the Names of Their Presidential Running Mates. but of the 26 Presidential Candidates, Only a Few Have Name Recognition in Nigeria

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Umaru Yar'Adua

--The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)

The emergence of Yar'Adua as the PDP candidate caused so much disenchantment that his first act as a candidate was to visit aggrieved party members, particularly the state governors who were forced by Obasanjo to withdraw, in order to placate them.

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The Katsina governor is touted as transparent and prudent with public funds. The PDP image-makers explain his emergence as an attempt to break the cycle of old politicians.

A former chemistry lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, he was reported to be preparing to return to his teaching job in 2007 when he was persuaded into the presidential race. Even as a governor, Yar'Adua was little known by the Nigerian populace outside his state.

Speaking at a press conference in January, the PDP candidate said he would make the Niger Delta problem one of his priority areas. With Goodluck Jonathan, an Ijaw from the Niger Delta as his running mate, he is likely to be well received in the Delta.

His other priorities are infrastructure, power and energy, areas that Obasanjo woefully failed to address during his presidential term.

However, with Buhari also coming from Katsina state, observers say it will be difficult for Yar'Adua to carry the entire North while Abubakar's influence in the North East may pose further problems for him. That may reduce his chances of being elected nationally.

Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu

--All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA

The charismatic, former Biafran leader was the party's candidate in the 2003 election and came third behind Buhari and Obasanjo the victor.

Ojukwu, who was a military governor of the former Eastern Region (now nine states) before the civil war, looms large in Nigerian history and represents Igbo resistance to what they call the marginalisation of the Igbo of the South East. Thus any vote he gets is a protest vote by the Igbo.

He is likely to make an appreciable showing in the election, especially given the way the PDP treated Igbo aspirants. However, the 2006 census makes the Igbo 'region' the least populated of the six geo-political zones with 16.4m people. The Igbo see this as a deliberate effort to further whittle down their number and consequent influence in Nigerian politics.

Apart from a grand vision of what he would do for Nigeria, Ojukwu's passion is to return the Igbo to their former position of pre-eminence in Nigeria.

Ojukwu's handicap is that his party has been embroiled in internal crisis since 2003.

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar

--Action Congress (AC)

Eight years as vice-president would, in other circumstances, stand in favour of Abubakar but as Obasanjo's vice-president, this has proved to be his albatross.

Abubakar's had hoped to succeed Obasanjo as the next president, but he was muscled out of the party by Obasanjo after opposing his 'third term' bid. He has subsequently been adopted by the Action Congress (AC), an amalgam of political associations formed by those frog-marched out of the PDP.

AC thus is essentially a grudge party and Nigerians are saying: "if they had not been flushed out of the PDP, how different would they be?" Abubakar's candidature on the platform of AC has further compounded the crisis with his former party and boss. The PDP has labelled Abubakar 'a glutton for money', another way of alleging he is corrupt.

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Abubakar's battles with Obasanjo and the PDP have revealed the former's wily political character. Many Nigerians have watched his political dexterity and survival instincts with interest. Although Abubakar has a policy blueprint articulated by some of Nigeria's best brains, his political troubles do not allow him to reveal them yet to the Nigerian electorate. …