Nigeria’s ruling party has elected Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as its presidential candidate for elections scheduled for February 2023, establishing him as the frontrunner to become the next head of state in Africa’s biggest economy.
Tinubu won the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s primary contest by a landslide, securing 1,271 votes from the 2,203 accredited delegates’ votes, according to results announced at the party’s convention on Wednesday in the capital, Abuja.
He’s aiming to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, who is stepping down after serving two terms.
The former governor of Lagos state, the commercial hub, is the most powerful politician in southwestern Nigeria and has been tge national leader of the APC since the party’s establishment in 2013.
Tinubu’s influence helped propel Buhari to office two years later, something he directly reminded the president of in a speech last week when saying it was his “turn” to occupy the top job.
Tinubu’s nearest challengers were former Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi, who won 316 votes, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who won 235 votes.
Before the voting began, nine of the 23 candidates withdrew from the race – with seven, including Ekiti state Governor Kayode Fayemi asking their supporters to back Tinubu.
The APC was created as a merger of opposition parties and defectors from the government. Its victory in 2015 pushed the Peoples Democratic Party out of power after 16 years.
Addressing the candidates and delegates just before the voting started, Buhari said “the principal challenge before us is the need to keep a united front” regardless of the result. The president unexpectedly opted not to publicly endorse a preferred successor.
Tinubu’s main rival in next year’s election will be Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, 75, who won the PDP’s presidential primary on May 28. Interestingly, both candidates are Muslims, albeit the former is from the South, while the latter, from the North.
The PDP, which dominated politics in Africa’s most-populous nation following the restoration of democracy in 1999, is aiming to reclaim control after eight years in opposition.
Other presidential hopefuls include Peter Obi, former Anambra State governor and flagbearer of Labour Party, LP; Senator Ebenezer Ikeyina, representing Social Democratic Party, SDP, among others.
– Additional information from Bloomberg
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