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Ex-VP Abubakar named opposition challenger to Nigeria's president

Former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar attends an interview with Reuters in Abuja, Nigeria May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Paul Carsten

(reuters_tickers)

By Tife Owolabi

PORT HARCOURT (Reuters) - Atiku Abubakar won a primary race to become the main opposition challenger to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in elections next year, results showed on Sunday.

Abubakar, a former vice president, will stand as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate. At a party convention on Saturday, the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) picked Buhari, who took office in 2015, for the February vote.

The handling of the economy has already emerged as a major issue at the start of the election cycle in Africa's top oil producer, which also plays a key role in regional wars against Islamist insurgents.

Nigeria entered its first recession in 25 years in 2016, mainly caused by lower oil prices and attacks in the Niger Delta crude producing region. It emerged from recession early last year but growth remains sluggish and inflation has remained high, above the central bank's single digit target range.

Abubakar, 71, was selected in the PDP's primary election after the party held a convention in the southern city of Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta oil production heartland.

(Additional reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha and Camillus Eboh in Abuja; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Susan Fenton)

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