Chief Samuel Olu Falae first declared his intention to contest the 1993 presidential election as an aspirant of the Social Democratic Party, but was defeated by popular businessman, Chief Moshood Abiola (now deceased).
Falae then joined the National Democratic Coalition, which opposed the dictatorship of Gen. Sani Abacha.
The former secretary to the government under the maximum ruler, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, again ran for president as the consensus candidate of the Alliance for Democracy and the All People’s Party in the February 27, 1999 presidential election, which he lost to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic Party.
On April 11, after losing his Court of Appeal case challenging Obasanjo’s election on allegations of electoral malpractice, Falae said he had given up his legal challenge of the poll result based on the widespread view that a prolonged legal battle could create political uncertainty,which could lead to “ambitious military elements (seeking) to prolong military rule” in the country.
He has not contested a presidential election since.
Sixty-four-year-old Kano State-born businessman, Bashir Tofa, who is the only surviving presidential candidate of the Third Republic, first ran for president in 1993 on the platform of the National Republican Convention.
Tofa maintained second place behind Abiola’s SDP up until the election was annulled.
Following his imminent defeat, the businessman-turned-politician sat it out for the next three elections, which held from 1999 to 2007, before, once again, declaring to run for the top political office in the 2011 presidential poll as an aspirant of the All Nigeria Peoples Party.
Tofa jostled for the party’s ticket alongside a former Governor of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau; billionaire entrepreneur, Chief Harry Akande; and a former Minister of Education under Abacha, Birma Dauda, at the January 16, 2011 primary. But Tofa was defeated by Shekarau.
With the February 2013 merger of the ANPP, the Action Congress of Nigeria, the Congress for Progressive Change and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance to form the All Progressives Congress, Tofa became a chieftain of the new political party.
The founder and General Overseer of the Household of God Church, Pastor Chris Okotie, first made his declaration to contest for president in the 2003 general election under the National Democratic Party.
The erstwhile Chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and former Military Governor of Imo State, Maj.Gen. Ike Nwachukwu (retd), who had spent barely one week in the party, however, defeated the clergyman to clinch the ticket.
Okotie then dumped the NDP for the Justice Party, becoming the nominee of his new party on February 8, 2003. He contested that year alongside Nwachukwu, but both lost to Obasanjo.
Undeterred, Okotie registered the Fresh Democratic Party and made more unsuccessful attempts in 2007 and 2011, claiming that this ambition was based on a divine call.
Okotie’s presidential hopes were dashed on December 7, 2012 when the Independent National Electoral Commission deregistered 28 political parties, including the FDP, and conducted the March 28 poll without recognising any of the deregistered parties or their respective candidates because the party failed to secure any elective seat in previous elections.
Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s return to Nigeria on June 18, 1982, after almost 13 years of exile, saw the former military administrator joining the ruling National Party of Nigeria in the hope of getting into the Second Senate.
The Nnewi, Anambra State native, however, lost the 1983 poll to the Nigerian Peoples Party’s Dr. Edwin Onwudiwe.
Odumegwu-Ojukwu, years later, joined the likes of Dr. Olusola Saraki (now deceased), Chief Tom Ikimi and Lamidi Adedibu (now deceased) to establish the APP, which was defeated at the 1999 poll. Most of the founders then defected to the PDP.
After joining others to found APGA to serve the interest of Igbos, he declared for the presidency in 2002. The retired colonel was given the 2003 presidential ticket but Obasanjo won the election.
Again, presented with the party’s ticket to contest the 2007 poll, Ojukwu, then starting to fall sick, lost the election to the PDP’s Yar’Adua, who ironically was also in bad health, a condition that led to his demise three years later.
The Biafra agitator died on 26 November, 2011 at the age of 78.
Kaduna State-born Balarabe Musa, as a 17-year-old accounts clerk, registered as a card-carrying member of the Northern Elements Progressive Union in 1953. He started pursuing politics actively in 1975, leaving behind a career in accountancy of over two decades.
He won the 1979 governorship election in Kaduna State as the candidate of the Peoples Redemption Party to become its first civilian governor.
But his tenure swiftly came to an end in June 1981 when the opposition-dominated Kaduna State House of Assembly impeached him over his refusal to nominate political rivals into his cabinet.
Still under the PRP, Musa’s presidential aspirations took off yet again in the Fourth Republic in time for the April 2003 election. Though the party unanimously selected him as the nominee in February 2003, his campaign was plagued by paucity of funds.
The almost 80-year-old elder statesman now spends most of his time tending to his agriculture-based ventures in Kaduna.
As the only woman to aim for the presidency in the Third and Fourth Republics and the first to do so in in the current democratic dispensation, Dr. Sarah Jibril has earned a place in the history books.
In 1992, Jibril first declared her intention to contest the presidential nomination of the SDP, which she eventually lost.
Again in 1998, the UK and US-trained counselling psychologist contested the number one office on the platform of the newly formed PDP, but lost the nomination to Obasanjo.
In 2003, she defected to the Progressive Action Congress to become the first woman to contest a presidential election, which she lost and returned to the PDP in 2007 to vie for the party’s ticket, which the late Umaru Yar’Adua eventually won.
On August 26, 2010, Jibril again declared her presidential ambition as a PDP aspirant, ultimately losing the ticket to Jonathan, who won the 2011 election.
Following the PDP national convention that produced Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Jibril avowed that the only vote she scored at the January 2011 primary would continually haunt the conscience of the nation’s womenfolk.
Jonathan later appointed her as his Special Adviser on Ethics and Values.
One of the nation’s most vocal human rights lawyers and activists, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, in 1994, established the National Conscience as a human rights movement committed to fighting for the economic rights of the downtrodden.
On October 1, 1994, the group was converted to a political party in defiance of the military decrees banning political party formation.
On April 22, 2002, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria first declared as the presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party on his 64th birthday but was defeated at the 2003 poll by Obasanjo.
Fawehinmi did not contest election afterwards, but continued to stand up for the underprivileged in the society until his death on September 5, 2009.
Jim Nwobodo, an accomplished businessman, ventured into politics at the age of 39 under the Nigerian Peoples Party.
Endorsed by Nigeria’s pioneer president, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (now deceased), he contested the 1979 governorship election as the party’s standard-bearer in the old Anambra State and won by a landslide, becoming the first executive governor of the state.
Nwobodo was, however, defeated in October 1983 by the National Party of Nigeria’s Christian Onoh.
He was a founding member of the PDP and one of the six presidential aspirants that lost to Obasanjo at the party’s inaugural primary in 1999. That year, he was elected into the Senate.
The ex-governor lost the 2003 presidential election as the presidential candidate of the United Nigeria Peoples Party.
Renowned lawyer and activist, Tunji Braithwaite, first ventured into politics in the Second Republic as the presidential candidate of the Nigeria Advance Party in the 1983 election.
Braithwaite was joined in NAP by intellectuals like Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka. But the erudite lawyer came last in the presidential election with 271,000 votes against incumbent President Shehu Shagari’s 12 million votes.
As NAP stalwart, he returned to politics in 2003, but with his party failing to secure any political office. It was deregistered by INEC in 2012.
Braithwaite passed away two months ago.
In 1989, Atiku Abubakar veered away from his 30-year career as a civil servant and businessman to take the plunge, politically, after meeting Shehu Yar’Adua, a former military administrator.
Together, they began attending political meetings and soon, Atiku became the National Vice-Chairman of the Peoples Front of Nigeria and was elected to represent his constituency at the 1989 Constituent Assembly.
In 1991, Atiku won the SDP governorship primary in the now defunct Gongola State but was disqualified by Babangida. Though Atiku declared his presidential ambition, he stepped down for Abiola in 1992.
Atiku won the 1998 Adamawa State governorship election, but before his swearing-in, he was selected as Obasanjo’s running mate in the presidential election. Obasanjo and Atiku won the election in 1999 and Atiku became the vice-president.
On December 20, 2006, Atiku was chosen as the presidential candidate of the Action Congress. He later lost to Umaru Yar’Adua, the younger brother of his close associate.
In January 2011, Atiku lost the PDP ticket to Jonathan – after returning to the party to actualise his presidential ambition.
On February 2, 2014, he left the party again to join the APC. His losing streak continued with Muhammadu Buhari emerging as the party’s presidential standard-bearer on December 11, 2014.
Though appointed as Second Republic President Shehu Shagari’s Special Assistant on Political Affairs and Policy Monitoring at the age of 27, Patrick Utomi did not strive for political relevance until 2007 when he contested the presidential election on the platform of the African Democratic Congress.
Having lost the 2007 election to Yar’Adua, the Professor of Political Economy again jostled for the top office in 2011, this time on the platform of the Social Democratic Mega Party. He, however, was defeated by Jonathan of the PDP.
In 2012, he joined the Action Congress of Nigeria, which gave rise to the now ruling APC, enabling him to become one of the most influential members of the party.
Attahiru Bafarawa, 61, started out as a local government councillor in charge of education.
In 1979, as the candidate of the Great Nigerian Peoples Party, Bafarawa contested to become a member of the House of Representatives but did not succeed. He represented his people at the National Constitutional Conference that held between 1994 and 1995 during the Abacha government before co-founding the United Nigeria Congress Party in 1997 and later the APP in 1998.
On the platform of the ANPP, he was governor of Sokoto State from 1999 to 2007.
He founded the Democratic Peoples Party and contested the 2007 presidential poll as the party’s candidate. But he lost to Yar’Adua.
Nuhu Ribadu’s appointment as the pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission under President Obasanjo in 2003 set the stage for his political aspirations.
The then EFCC Chairman’s tenure, revered for its zero tolerance for corruption, saw prominent bankers, commissioners of police, incumbent and past governors, ministers, senate presidents, high-ranking political party members, and perpetrators of Advance Fee Fraud being charged to court.
Ribadu’s merciless reign, which ended in 2007, forced him into self-exile until 2010, when he returned to Nigeria and declared his intention to contest as the 2011 presidential candidate of the ACN. But he lost the election to Jonathan.
In August 2014, Ribadu defected to the PDP with the intention of running for governorship in Adamawa State. The move backfired when he lost the 2015 election to Bindo Jibrilla of the APC.
Popular journalist-turned-publisher, Dele Momodu, decided to partake in politics in 1993 when he joined the Moshood Abiola Presidential Campaign Organisation. He was arrested and detained after the annulment of the June 12 poll.
He was again reportedly arrested in 1995 and charged with treason by the Abacha administration on the suspicion of being one of the masterminds of the pirate radio station, Radio Freedom, later renamed Radio Kudirat in honour of Abiola’s wife, Kudirat, who was killed in cold blood.
After three years in exile, Momodu re-entered Nigeria in 1998.
He announced his intention to run for president in 2011 and emerged as the candidate of the NCP on January 12, 2011 after a keenly contested primary. He, however, lost the presidential poll to Jonathan.
Ibrahim Shekarau started out in Kano State as a teacher and civil servant, a job from which he voluntarily retired in October 2001 to join politics in 2002.
In 2013, he won the Kano State governorship election by a landslide, defeating the incumbent Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso. Upon completion of his tenure in 2011, he proceeded to contest for the presidency on the platform of the ANPP.
Following the 2013 merger of ANPP with three other parties to form the APC, Shekarau defected to the PDP on January 29, 2014.
The 2015 general election saw the emergence of Nigeria’s second female presidential candidate, Prof. Remi Sonaiya.
The professor of French Language and Applied Linguistics had voluntarily retired from her position at the Department of Foreign Languages, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, in 2010 in order to devote more of her time and resources to issues such as public affairs, justice, equity and African development.
After joining the KOWA Party, she was elected as its National Public Relations Officer. In 2015, she contested for the presidency, which Buhari won.