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Video: Rescuer of Nigeria from FIFA ban, Vice President Osinbajo throws hat in the ring

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After months of speculations, Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, a professor of law, this Monday finally declared his intention to contest for the presidency of Nigeria.

He was the acting president in 2018 when he deftly stepped into the crisis within the NFF and averted a looming FIFA ban on Nigeria.

In a tweet on Monday, Osinbajo is seeking the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) ticket to run for the presidency in February next year.

Political parties in Nigeria should pick presidential candidates by June 3. Official campaigning will begin in September, according to the country’s electoral commission.

With Buhari set to step down after serving two four-year terms, the Feb. 23, 2023 ballot is expected to be a hotly contested affair.

“I am today, with utmost humility formally declaring my intention to run for the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the platform of APC,” Osinbajo said, ending months of speculation.

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Supporters tout Osinbajo as a safe pair of hands who would provide stability and pursue a more liberal economic policy, including easing of forex rules. He has previously criticised the central bank for maintaining foreign currency controls.

But he may find it difficult to distance himself from the policies of his boss Buhari, who critics accuse of racking up huge national debts and failing to end an Islamist insurgency in the northeast and kidnappings for ransom by armed gangs in the northwest.

A deputy to Buhari since 2015, Osinbajo, a 61-year-old law professor and southern Christian pastor, has to fend off a challenge from Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a southern Muslim and wealthy power broker and former governor of Lagos state, the commercial engine of Africa’s biggest economy.

Osinbajo served as Lagos justice commissioner and attorney general under Tinubu from 1999 to 2007.

Osinbajo also 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 to Buhari during elections in 2015 and 2019.

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Buhari has not said whether he will support either Osinbajo or Tinubu

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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