Nigeria: Ruling APC picks ex-Lagos governor Tinubu as presidential candidate

Nigeria: Ruling APC picks ex-Lagos governor Tinubu as presidential candidate
Former Lagos State governor Bola Tinubu, 70, beat out 13 other candidates, including current President Muhammadu Buhari's deputy.
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Bola Tinubu was Lagos governor from 1999 to 2007 [PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images-archive]

Nigeria's ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), on Wednesday picked former Lagos State governor Bola Tinubu as its candidate to run for president in elections scheduled for February 2023.

President Muhammadu Buhari steps down next year after leading Africa's most populous country and top oil exporter for the maximum eight years allowed by the constitution.

Tinubu, 70, who was in charge of Nigeria's commercial capital from 1999 to 2007, defeated 13 other candidates including Buhari's deputy, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, in the APC primaries.

Unlike many outgoing African heads of state, Buhari had not named a successor, leaving the APC field wide open.

The ruling party candidate would usually be considered the favourite in Nigeria, which has a long history of electoral fraud and violence. However, in 2015, Buhari was the opposition candidate when he won an election widely considered among the cleanest the country had seen.

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Tinubu's main opponent will be Atiku Abubakar, who was vice president from 1999 to 2007 under former president Olusegun Obasanjo. Atiku represents the People's Democratic Party.

A wily political operator, Tinubu built a strong support base during his eight years as governor of Lagos. Since stepping down, he has remained highly influential, with many of his loyal proteges in powerful positions in government and business.

Supporters portray him as an effective administrator with a knack for picking bright, committed technocrats to get jobs done.

Critics denounce him as a godfather figure who doles out lucrative contracts and plum jobs to his friends and is not above sending out street thugs to intimidate opponents if he fails to get his way. He rejects that description.