The Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, has appealed to his opponents to work with him to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party in the February 2023 presidential election.
Tinubu said this while giving his victory speech at Eagle Square, the venue of the APC primary.
The former governor commended those who stepped down for him.
Tinubu thanked his contenders and delegates, noting that he held no grudges against anyone who didn’t support him.
“Let me not punish my president too long. The competition you offered made our party stronger and made me better. I am grateful to all of you.
“I hold no grudges and grievances. Let us work together to defeat PDP. They had 16 years, they depleted our resources, and they left us with hunger. They are the agent of poverty, terror and lying,” he said.
He subsequently apologised to Buhari for keeping him waiting, saying, “Please forgive me for taking you this long. I didn’t expect to win, but I won and I must be intoxicated by the victory. What can I do?”
Tinubu scored 1,271 votes to clinch the APC presidential ticket for the 2023 general election.
Tinubu, also the National Leader of the party, defeated 13 other aspirants to emerge the candidate at the end of the Special National Convention of the party on Wednesday in Abuja.
The other aspirants included Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajuba, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Chief Ikeobasi Mokelu, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Mr Tein Jack-Rich and Governor Ben Ayade.
Others were Governor David Umuahi, Senator Ahmad Yarima, Dr Ahmed Lawal, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, Governor Yahaya Bello and Mr Ogbonnaya Onu.
The race began with 23 aspirants but nine withdrew shortly before the commencement of voting at the convention.
They included Mrs Uju Kennedy-Ohnenye, Dr Felix Nicholas, former Gov. Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, former Gov. Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun, former Speaker Dimeji Bankole, Sen. Ajayi Boroffice, Gov. Muhammad Badaru of Jigawa, Sen. Ken Nnamani and Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.
The PUNCH had reported that selected members of the APC had gathered to choose the party’s candidate for next year’s election to replace the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
They selected Tinubu to face 75-year-old Atiku Abubakar of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party among others in the February 25 presidential election.
Buhari, who is stepping down after the two terms he is allowed in the constitution, spent days leading up to the convention in negotiations with the APC’s leaders seeking unity over a party candidate.
“The fate of the party depends on what we do here,” APC party chairman Abdullahi Adamu said, echoing Buhari’s call for unity in the ranks.
“We cannot go into the general election next year without putting our house together.”
Part of the APC’s debate over candidates relates to zoning – an unofficial agreement among political elites that Nigeria’s presidency should rotate between those from the predominantly Christian south and those from the largely Muslim north.
After northern Buhari, observers expected the presidency to go to a candidate from the south.
But the PDP – which held its primary on May 28 and 29 – chose Abubakar, a former vice president and a political stalwart who is a northern Muslim.
The opposition’s choice to ignore zoning has made the APC reconsider how their candidate will appeal to the north, where voter numbers and participation are traditionally higher.
Buhari refused to declare support for any candidate and instructed APC members to “allow the delegates to decide.”
“Our objective must be the victory of our party and our choice of candidate must be someone who would give the Nigerian masses a sense of victory and confidence even before the elections,” he said last week.