|Nigeria's opposition has failed to agree an election pact aimed at unseating Goodluck Jonathan [AFP]
Nigeria's two main opposition parties have failed to reach an alliance to unseat Goodluck Jonathan, the incumbent president, leaving them divided ahead of elections in three days time.
Officials from the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) held hours of talks late into Tuesday night and again on Wednesday on the possibility of fielding a single candidate against Jonathan.
"While it is true that representatives of both parties have been engaged in talks aimed at forging an alliance, we regret to announce that such talks have not led to any alliance," said Bisi Akande, the ACN chairman, at a news conference in Abuja.
"We have decided, it is better for each of the parties to go into the presidential election on his own platform. If at the end of the election on Saturday there is no clear winner, we will make a decision on which way to go," Akande added.
Options under discussion had included former anti-corruption chief Nuhu Ribadu, the ACN presidential candidate, stepping down and supporting the candidacy of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari of the CPC, opposition sources said.
There were significant hurdles to any deal, not least selling it to the respective party followers just days before the election. It is already too late to re-print ballot papers and any agreement could have backfired by creating confusion.
"There may be time to complete a deal but not to sell a deal," said one opposition source who declined to be named.
The ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) has won every presidential race since the end of military rule in 1999 and Goodluck Jonathan is considered the favourite, but opposition parties are hoping their regional strengths could force a run-off.
Buhari has strong support in parts of the mostly Muslim north while the ACN has its stronghold in the southwest. More than a dozen candidates are vying for the presidency, but Jonathan, Buhari and Ribadu are the main contenders.
Last Saturday's parliamentary polls, in which the ACN gained seats but the CPC perform less strongly than expected in some areas, further complicated the chances of an opposition pact.