ABUJA (Reuters) - A Nigerian opposition party on Sunday selected Ibrahim Shekarau, governor of the northern state of Kano, as its candidate to run against President Goodluck Jonathan in April elections.
The decision by the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) means all Jonathan’s main rivals in the April 9 election are from the mostly Muslim north of Africa’s most populous nation.
Jonathan won the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) primaries on Thursday but his candidacy is controversial because it breaks a pact within the PDP that power should rotate between the north and the largely Christian south every two terms.
Jonathan is a southerner, the first head of state from the oil-producing Niger Delta. He inherited the country’s highest officer when his predecessor Umaru Yar‘Adua, a northerner, died last year part way through his first term.
Some northern political factions say only a northerner should be running for president to complete what would have been Yar‘Adua’s second term.
Jonathan’s main rival is expected to be ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, who is running on the opposition Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) ticket.
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) on Friday chose former anti-corruption tsar Nuhu Ribadu as its nominee.
Ribadu won international praise for the arrests of graft suspects and seizures of assets as the first head of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, but he is a relative political newcomer and is seen as an outsider.
The PDP candidate has won every Nigerian election since the end of military rule in 1999 and the opposition is seen as unlikely to be able to unseat Jonathan unless it can unite behind a single northern candidate.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, a northerner who was defeated by Jonathan in the PDP primaries, has questioned the conduct of the vote but has not indicated whether he will try to form an alliance with a rival party.