The former vice president will launch his third presidential bid after winning the People’s Democratic Party primary.
The main opposition party in Nigeria has chosen former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as its candidate for the 2023 presidential elections.
Vote counting began late on Saturday and Abubakar garnered 371 votes, beating his closest rival Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, governor of oil-rich Rivers state, who received 237 votes.
Abubakar, a Muslim and stalwart of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has made numerous bids to seize the presidency of Africa’s most populous country.
The 75-year-old lost to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 in the last election, which he says was rigged.
But Buhari will not be on the ballot next year when the second of his two four-year terms comes to an end.
The PDP, which ruled Nigeria after the end of military rule in 1999, was ousted by Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) party in 2015.
In his acceptance speech, Abubakar reiterated his campaign pledge to end insecurity in the country and revive its fragile economy, among other promises, and promised to work with his opponents.
“I therefore promise to restore unity. I am also committed to decisively managing the security situation in this country,” Abubakar said.
Abubakar has participated in six primaries and next year’s vote will be his third presidential bid.
From 1999 to 2007, he served as Deputy Chairman of Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s first leader after decades of military rule ended.
Abubakar’s main opponent will be from the ruling APC party, which will choose its candidate at a special convention to be held June 6-8.
The APC postponed its presidential primary from Sunday after the electoral commission extended the deadline for political parties to choose their candidates.
Twenty-five APC candidates have registered to participate in the primaries. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and former Lagos State Governor and party heavyweight Bola Tinubu are seen as ruling party favourites.
Buhari’s successor faces several challenges, including insecurity marked by kidnappings for ransom in the northwest, an armed Islamist uprising in the northeast, secessionist violence in the southeast, a struggling economy and a high inflation.