Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has declared he will run for the country’s top job next year when incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari is scheduled to step down.
Osinbajo becomes the latest figure from the two main parties to join the race to lead Africa’s most populous country and biggest economy.
First elected as Buhari’s deputy in 2015, Osinbajo announced on Monday after months of speculation on whether he planned to succeed his boss.
In a statement, the senior lawyer and former university teacher said his years of stewardship under Buhari had made him the best man for the job.
“In the past seven years, I have served as Vice President under a true Nigerian patriot, a servant of the nation in war and peace, and a man of integrity, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We have, together, worked through some of the most difficult times in the history of our Nation, but we have remained focused on securing the country, providing infrastructure, and growing our economy.
“As stipulated by the Nigerian Constitution, our tenure will end next year.
“In this period of seven years, I have served the government in several capacities, and have, at the direction of Mr. President, represented our country in sensitive high level international engagements. I have been to practically all local governments in Nigeria. I have been in markets, factories, schools, and farms. I have been in agricultural, mining, and oil-producing communities; in the Delta, in Kebbi, Enugu, Borno; Rivers, Plateau, and Ondo; & in all other States of the federation, listening to the diverse experiences and yearnings of our people.
“I have visited our gallant troops in the North East and our brothers and sisters in the IDP camps. I have felt the pain and anguish of victims of violent conflicts, terrorist attacks, flooding, fire, and other disasters.
“I have been in the homes of many ordinary Nigerians in various parts of the country. I have sat with our techprenuers in Lagos, Edo, and Kaduna, with our Nollywood and Kannywood actors; with our musicians, from Lagos, Onitsha, and Kano. And I have spoken to small and large businesses.
“I stood where they stood and sat where they sat. I know their hopes, aspirations, and fears; and I believe that those hopes and aspirations are the seeds for the great Nigeria that we all desire.
“I believe that the very reason why the Almighty God gave me these experiences, these insights, and these opportunities, is that they must be put to the use of our country and its great peoples.
“Which is why I am today, with utmost humility, formally declaring my intention to run for the Office of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, on the platform of our great party, the All Progressives Congress,” Osinbajo said.
He promised to continue with Buhari’s policies and programmes, including huge projects of new roads and railways.
A key issue ahead of the February 2023 election is security, with Nigeria’s armed forces battling an armed campaign in the northeast, violent criminal gangs in the northwest, and separatist tensions in the southeast.
Osinbajo joins an array of aspirants from the ruling APC to vie for the party’s ticket.
APC leader and former Lagos Governor Bola Tinubu has already announced he would run. Osinbajo served under Tinubu as justice commissioner in Lagos for eight years.
Osinbajo lacks a political base of his own and would need to build a strong coalition of supporters with deep pockets to take on the political machinery of Tinubu, who helped campaign and deliver victory for his predecessor Buhari during elections in 2015 and 2019.