Nigeria’s governing party has chosen its national leader Bola Tinubu as its presidential candidate for the upcoming 2023 elections.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain will now contend with opposition leader Atiku Abubakar as the two vie to succeed incumbent Muhammadu Buhari as president of Africa’s biggest economy.
In the primaries held on Tuesday and Wednesday, Tinubu, 70, a former two-time governor of Lagos, won with 1,271 votes, ahead of former Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi’s 316 votes and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s 235 votes. Senate President Ahmad Lawan scored 152 votes.
The septuagenarian was one of the first candidates to declare his intention to succeed Buhari whose second and final term ends in May next year.
To become president, he will have to defeat the People’s Democratic Party flagbearer Atiku – his former business partner and another founding father of the APC – in the general elections scheduled for February 2023.
Peter Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso, former governors of Anambra and Kano states and candidates of smaller opposition parties, are seen as wildcards in the race.
In an emotionally charged speech last week, Tinubu had said it was his “turn” to occupy the Aso Rock presidential palace, in return for getting Buhari elected in 2015.
“If it were not for me standing before you leading the army, saying Buhari, go ahead, we’re behind you, he could never have become the President,” the APC leader said while addressing APC delegates in Ogun state.
“I have done my best to protect the children,” he said. “I too want to become the President. I don’t want to be erased from history.”
In the lead-up to the primary elections, nine other candidates withdrew from the race and pledged their delegates to Tinubu. Another aspirant did the same for Osinbajo.
If elected, Tinubu will have to deal with escalating insecurity across the country as well as an economy struggling to rebound after exiting the second recession in five years, in 2020.