Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo announced on Monday that he will run for the country’s top job next year, when incumbent Muhammadu Buhari has to step down.
He became the latest of the two main parties to join the race to lead Africa’s most populous country and largest economy.
First elected as Buhari’s deputy in 2015, Osinbajo announced after months of speculation whether he planned to succeed his boss.
In a statement, the 65-year-old senior lawyer and former university teacher said that his years under Buhari’s leadership have made him the best person for the job.
“That is why today I am with the utmost humility to formally announce my intention to run for president … on the platform of our great party, the All Progressive Congress,” Osinbajo said.
He promised to continue Buhari’s policies and programs, including new roads and huge railway projects.
A key issue ahead of the February 2023 election is security, with Nigeria’s armed forces battling jihadist insurgency in the northeast, violent criminal gangs in the northwest and separatist tensions in the southeast.
Osinbajo joined a series of candidates for the party ticket from the ruling APC.
APC leader and former Lagos governor Bola Tinubu has already announced that he will run. Osinbajo worked under Tinubu as the Commissioner of Justice in Lagos for eight years.
Other APC candidates are Transport Minister Rotimi Amachi and Central Kogi State Governor Yahya Bello.
The ruling party is expected to choose its flag bearer by June and the candidate will face the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Atiku Abubakar, 75, a former vice president who has run for the presidency five times, announced last month that he would run for the PDP’s podium again.
An unwritten rule of Nigerian politics is that the presidency is expected to “rotate” to share power equitably between the mostly Muslim North and the predominantly Christian South.
After Buhari, a Muslim from the north, completes his two terms the next year, many southerners say the presidency should return to his territory.