LAGOS – Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said on Monday he would run for the country’s top job next year when incumbent Muhammadu Buhari steps down.
He becomes the latest figure from the two main parties to join the race for the leadership of the most populous country and the largest economy in Africa.
Osinbajo, who was first elected as Buhari’s deputy in 2015, made the announcement after months of speculation over whether he would succeed his boss.
In a statement, the 65-year-old senior lawyer and former university professor said his years of leadership under Buhari had made him the best man for the job.
“So today, with the utmost humility, I officially declare my intention to run for president…on the platform of our main party, the All Progressives Congress,” Osinbajo said.
He promised to continue Buhari’s policies and programs, including huge projects for new roads and railways.
A key issue ahead of the February 2023 elections is security as Nigerian forces battle a jihadist insurgency in the northeast, violent criminal gangs in the northwest and separatist tensions in the southeast.
Osinbajo joins a slew of APC contenders for power to vie for the party ticket.
APC leader and former governor of Lagos, Bola Tinubu, has already announced his candidacy. Osinbajo was Justice Commissioner of Tinubu in Lagos for eight years.
Other candidates for the APC include transport minister Rotimi Amaechi and Yahaya Bello, the governor of central Kogi state.
The ruling party is expected to elect its flag bearer by June, and the candidate will run against anyone from the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, 75, who ran for president five times, announced last month that he would run again on the PDP platform.
An unwritten rule of Nigerian politics states that the presidency should “rotate” between the predominantly Muslim north and the predominantly Christian south in order to distribute power more evenly.
After Buhari, a northern Muslim, completes his two terms next year, many southerners say the presidency should return to their region.