Former Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu Wins APC Presidential Ticket
Former Lagos State governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu has won the presidential ticket of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2023 general election.
Mr. Tinubu, 70, won the ticket at the APC presidential primary election at Eagles Square, Abuja on Wednesday. He secured more than half of the votes at the party’s convention.
He will be challenged in February by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Labour’s Peter Obi, among others.
President Muhammadu Buhari will step down in May after two four-year terms.
Mr. Tinubu, whose victory was helped by seven aspirants stepping down for him before voting began, will now look to unify the different voting blocks in the party.
He polled 1,271 votes to defeat his closest rival, former Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi, who polled 316 votes. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo came third with 235, while Senate President Ahmad Lawan got 152.
He sold himself to party delegates on his stewardship of Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos, which he led between 1999 and 2007, overseeing the transformation of its revenue and public transport.
The former Governor will now be looking to do the same with millions of Nigerian voters, many of whom are suspicious of his reported health issues and allegations of corruption, which he denies.
“I have the expertise,” Tinubu said in his speech before the voting started.
“My record of corporate leadership, my financial expertise and my experience as an executive governor make me unique among the spirants, giving me the requisite skills to accelerate progressive reforms that will change the face of the national economy.”
President Muhammadu, while addressing party delegates on Tuesday night appealed to them to vote for an aspirant that will help the APC retain power after the 2023 presidential election.
“Our choice of flag bearer must be formidable,” Buhari said while appealing to elect a candidate that commands the ability “to unify the country and capacity to address our critical challenges.”
In his acceptance speech, Tinubu, who paid glowing tribute to President Buhari on his effort to reposition the country in the last seven years, stressed that he had the ability to administer the country effectively.
“Though our tribe and tongue may differ, we must build a united country, premised on equity, fairness and justice. True reform and progress lie not in copying others but in identifying our own opportunities,” Tinubu said.
“To lead Nigerians is a sacred trust, which I do not take lightly or seek selfishly. By giving me the party’s mandate, I hereby make my solemn vow to make Nigeria the best home for its citizens.”
The convention started on Monday, a day after gunmen killed worshippers in Ondo state, in the south-west.
The attack at the St Francis Catholic church in the town of Owo highlighted the worsening insecurity under the APC, which Nigeria’s next president will have to confront.
That, along with high unemployment and rising inflation are expected to be the main election issues.
Some of the aspirants took moments before their speeches to acknowledge those killed in the massacre.
The APC emerged as a coalition of major political parties from northern and western Nigeria in 2013 and managed to seize power from the PDP in 2015, when President Buhari secured the first of his two election victories.
The party retained power four years later and has since consolidated its reach across Nigeria, winning several local parliamentary seats and taking onboard defecting governors in southern Nigeria.
According to the BBC, Some senior party members, including Mr. Buhari, had pushed for a consensus candidate to avoid a vote at the convention that might split the party.
Powerful northern APC governors last week said they supported a southern candidate to succeed Mr Buhari, who is a northerner, continuing a controversial agreement to alternate power between northern and southern Nigeria.
Mr. Tinubu, a Muslim from southern Nigeria, has to decide if he will seek a Christian politician in the north – of which there aren’t many – and risk losing vast votes in the region, or settle for another Muslim, potentially alienating southern Christian votes.