By NBF News
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Nigeria is on the fourth leg in the current political dispensation that flagged off in 1999. The impending exercise to produce the fourth set of political leaders has all the trademarks of excitement and novelty.

Unlike in 1999 and 2003, when some political parties formed alliances to confront the 'octopal' Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), there is nothing in the works now to show a strong opposition.

Most of the political parties have equally not shown strength and spread that will make the presidential contest testy and gritty. This indication has fuelled perception of yet another easy ride for the PDP. Of the 43 registered political parties cleared to run in the April polls, only about nine so far have presidential candidates.

Benue State governor, Mr. Gabriel Suswan in an apparent show of satisfaction with the candidature of President Goodluck Jonathan said the stature of his opposition from other parties has made it an easy ride for him. He said that a glance at the presidential gladiators across the various political parties reinforces the sweeping belief that indeed President Goodluck is imbued with elastic 'Goodluck', and the hands of providence.

Speaking in the same vein, a political science scholar and analyst, Prof. Dickson Usoren, admits that an ' easy passage has been inadvertently packaged for the PDP and its candidate by the caliber of presidential candidates of other parties.' But chieftains of the opposition parties however see the contest as titanic.

Momodu, says he has been adequately prepared to take over power from the PDP. Nwaokobia, insists that the new political order favours him.

'I'm a newbreed and a firebrand political activist, who is interested in change,whose passion is in a new Nigeria and who seeks a new republic of our dreams, who is interested in ensuring that the society is moving and moving effectively.'

How will the race go?
A look at the contestants points to the way.
The Candidates
PDP -Goodluck Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan joined politics as deputy governor of Bayelsa State on the platform of the Peoples Democcratic Party (PDP). He later succeeded his former boss,Chief DSP Alameseigha when the later was impeached from office.

Jonathan was elected Vice President in 2007 alongside late President Musa Yar'Adua. Following the incapacitaion of the late president, he was sworn in as acting president. He eventaully became president at the demise of the late president.

Recently, he emerged the PDP presidential candidate after a bitter contest with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

The president has never contested any election in his life.

CPC- Mohammadu Buhari
General Mohammadu Buhari became Nigeria's Head of State after toppling the democratically elected government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari in December 1983. He held sway as Nigeria's leader for 20 months before he was eased out by General Ibrahim Babangida in a palace coup.

A later day democrat, Buhari contested the presidential election in 2003 and 2007 on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP). He lost the two elections and the litigations that arose from them.

Following seemingly irreconciliable differences with the leadership of the ANPP, he dumped the party to form the Congress of Progressive Change(CPC). He would be contesting this year's presidential election on the CPC platform.

ACN -Nuhu Ribadu
Mallam Nuhu Ribadu , a retired police officer is the pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission. Following his removal from the EFCC and prosecution for alleged graft, he went on self-exile. When President Musa Yar'Adua died, the Federal Government dropped the charges against him and Ribadu returned home and joined partisan politics.

He emerged the preferred choice of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) leaders as the party's presidentail candidate in the April polls.

Ribadu is known to have gained some level of acceptability while working in the anti-corruption agency. It is this goodwill that he is banking on. Besides that, he has neither held any political office or contested any election.

ANPP-Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau
Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau is the governor of Kano State. He is presently in his second term as governor of the northern state on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP).

Shekarau , a retired teacher rose from political obscurity to become governor of Kano State in 2003. He defeated the then governor of the state, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain seeking a second term in office.

The Kano governor consolidated his hold on the levers of power in state when he secured a historic second term as governor in 2007. By successfully putting the ruling PDP at bar in the state, Shakarau proved himself a force to be reckon with in Kano politics.

He emerged the ANPP presidential candidate after defeating Alhaji Bashir Tofa, former presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention(NRC) and Chief Harry Akande.

FDP-Rev Chris Okotie
Rev Chris Okotie is the founder of the Household of God Church based in Oregun, Lagos. A former pop singer , he left the music industry for the pulpit in the 1980s. In 2003, he stunned the world when he took a dive into the murky waters of Nigeria politics. Okotie said he had a divine call to lead the country.

To actualize this dream, he joined the Justice Party in 2003. When he could not get the party's ticket, the flamboyant preacher formed the Fresh Democratic Party. He contested the 2003 and 2007 presidential election on the platform of the FDP. The Delta State born preacher cum politician would be contesting the presidential election this year for the third consecutive time.

NCP- Dele Momodu
Mr Dele Momodu is the presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party(NCP). Momodu was a reporter with the defunct Concord Newspaper. He was in the vanguard for the revalidation of the annulled June 12, 1993 Presidential election presumed to have been won by late business mogul , MKO Abiola. Early last year, he declared interest in the presidency. He sought to contest on the ticket of the Labour Party. When Momodu fell out with the leadership of LP he defected to the NCP and picked the presidential ticket.

SDMP-Prof Pat Utomi
Pat Utomi is the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Mega Party(SDMP). Utomi was a special adviser in the government Shehu Shagari in the second republic.

In 2007, he contested the presidential election on the platform of the African Democratic Congress (ADC).

ADC- Prof Peter Nwangwu
Prof Peter Nwangwu is the presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress(ADC).

A professor of pharmacy, nothing much is known about him politically prior to his emergence as ADC presidential standardbearer.

LDPN-Dr Chris Nwokaobia Jnr
Dr. Chris Nwokaobia Jnr is a member of the Nigerian human rights community. An activist and lawyer by training , he would be contesing the April election on the paltform of the Liberal Democratic Party of Nigeria(LDPN).

The running mates
Namadi Sambo(PDP)
Arch Namadi Sambo is the serving Nigerian Vice President. Until he emerged as the governor of Kaduna State in 2007, not much was known of him in terms of national politics.

Following the emergence of former Vice Goodluck Jonathan as president, Namadi was nominated to fill the vacant office of Vice President.

Pastor Tunde Bakare(CPC)
Pastor Tunde Bakare is a Pentecostal pastor and the founder of the Latter Rain Assembly. He has received national and international attention for his televangelism, which has sometimes been critical of the Nigerian government. He was reportedly arrested 2002 after sermons apparently critical of former Nigerian president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

A lawyer by training, he left legal practice to become a preacher. A fiery preacher, he is known more for his controversial stance on issues in the Christian fold.

He is the convener of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG).

Dr. John Odigie Oyegun(ANPP)
Chief John Odigie-Oyegun is the first executive governor of Edo State. He was elected on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) during the Babangida transition programme and served from January 1992 to November 1993.

At the inception of the current political dispensation, he pitched his tent with the All Peoples Party(APP) now All Nigerian Peoples Party(ANPP). Recently, he sought to lead the ANPP, before he, together with other aspirants for the office of national chairman of the party stepped down to pave way for the emergence of Dr Ogbonnaya Onu as the leader of the opposition party.

Oyegun is known for his principled stance on issues and the ability to call a spade by its real name at every given time.

Dr. Sunny Ugochukwu(ACN)
Dr. Sunny Ugochukwu, is a United States of America-based educationist. Nothing much is known of him politically until his announcement as the running mate to the ACN presidential candidate, Nuhu Ribadu.