Buhari picks Redeemed pastor, Osinbajo, as running mate

Buhari OsibajoLike he did in 2011, former military Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, has chosen a south-western Christian as his running mate for the February 14, 2015 presidential election.

The man the lot fell on this time is Yemi Osinbajo, a Redeemed Christian Church of God pastor and ex-Lagos state justice commissioner.

Buhari last week secured the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential nomination to challenge incumbent Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Analysts said Buhari, a devout Muslim, needed to nominate a Christian to appeal to voters in the south of the religiously divided country, where faith and tribe play an outsized role in politics.

“I accept the nomination gladly and happily,” Osibajo, 55, told journalists at APC headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday.

“I’m honoured to work with General Buhari who everyone knows — even his detractors know — that he’s an upright honest man who is fiercely committed to good governance,” he added.

Osibajo was seen as a surprise choice by some, as Buhari could have selected a politician with a much higher public profile, including a sitting state governor.

Governor of the oil rich Rivers State Rotimi Amaechi, a bitter Jonathan rival, had been widely mentioned and could have boosted opposition support in the president’s home region, the crude producing Niger Delta.

But Buhari reportedly let APC co-founder Bola Tinubu, the immensely rich and influential ex-governor of Lagos state, make the final choice.

Osinbajo served as justice commissioner under Tinubu and the two are seen as close allies.

He is seen as the former governor’s birthday gift to Buhari on the day he turned 72.

Buhari praised Osinbajo as “an excellent professional, a man of faith, a devoted family man and a role model.”

Faith may prove to be the key factor behind the selection. Buhari has been subject to unproven allegations – some spread by the ruling PDP – that he is a Muslim extremist.

The Redeemed Christian Church of God, which has one of the largest and most powerful networks of Evangelicals across Nigeria.