Factbox-Nigeria election 2023: Who are the presidential candidates?

February 23, 2023 10:56 PM AEDT | By Reuters
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LAGOS (Reuters) - Nigeria will elect a new president on Saturday to take over from Muhammadu Buhari in a contest pitting the old guard against a third-party candidate seeking to upset the established political order.

There are 18 candidates on the ballot, but only three are considered the top contenders.

Peter Obi, a third-party candidate of the smaller Labour Party is challenging veteran politicians Bola Tinubu, from Buhari's ruling party and former vice president Atiku Abubakar from the main opposition.

Here are some details on the candidates and their running mates.


Tinubu is the flagbearer for the ruling All Progressives Congress, a party he helped form with Buhari in 2013.

A Lagos governor between 1999-2007, the 70-year-old is an influential figure in the southwest, earning him the nickname "Godfather of Lagos." Over the years the wealthy businessman has been followed by allegations of corruption, which he rejects.

He forged his political career opposing military rule in the early 1990s. This is Tinubu's first presidential election run, which comes after years of forming political, ethnic and religious alliances across Nigeria. He is an ethnic Yoruba and a Muslim.

He aims to continue Buhari-era policies like building public infrastructure and greater central bank intervention in the economy but end a costly fuel subsidy and channel the money to agricultural and social welfare programmes while expanding the military.

Tinubu's running mate Kashim Shettima is a Muslim from northeastern Borno state, where he was governor at the height of an Islamist insurgency. The choice of Shettima was a departure from the established norm where presidential candidates choose a running mate from another religion.


Atiku is running on the ticket of the main opposition People's Democratic Party, the party of Olusegun Obasanjo which was ousted from power in 2015.

The 76-year-old former vice president is running for the third time after his loss to Buhari in 2019. Atiku, like Tinubu, has been dogged by allegations of corruption, which he has dismissed as baseless.

He plans to privatise the state oil company, ensure a greater role for the private sector in the economy, liberalise the exchange rate and provide more equipment to the military.

A northern Muslim from the Fulani ethnic group, Atiku has businesses in port logistics among several ventures.

His running mate is Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, a Christian governor from oil-producing Delta state. The choice of Okowa points to a strategy by Atiku to generate support in the largely Christian south.


Obi has generated substantial buzz among young voters and is looking to harness Nigerians' anger with the status quo to drive his third-party presidential bid.

The 61-year-old bespectacled former governor and banker was Atiku's running mate in 2019. He says he is happy to stand on his record as governor of Anambra state, which posted a rare budget surplus in 2014.

He promises to triple power generation, dismantle a multiple-rate naira exchange rate regime, gradually wean the economy off its reliance on oil by ramping up agriculture output and exports, and better fund the military.

Obi says he made money from importing and trading consumer goods before venturing into banking. He has appeared in Pandora Papers leaks, which said he operated companies in tax haven countries. But he said the Pandora Papers accounts were part of legal and legitimate asset management.

Obi is a Christian from the Igbo tribe in the volatile southeast, where some members are agitating to secede from Nigeria. His running mate Yusuf Baba-Ahmed is an economist and former senator from northern Kaduna state, who is also the founder of Baze University in Abuja.

(Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by James Macharia Chege, Hugh Lawson and Raissa Kasolowsky)


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