Nigeria’s ruling party on Wednesday picked former Lagos State governor Bola Tinubu as its candidate to run for president in elections scheduled for February 2023. President Muhammadu Buhari will step down next year after leading Africa’s most populous country and top oil exporter for the maximum eight years allowed by the constitution. Unlike many outgoing African heads of state, Buhari had not named a successor, leaving the field wide open. Tinubu, 70, defeated 13 other candidates in the All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries. He won 1,271 APC delegates’ votes, compared with 316 for his nearest rival, ex-governor Rotimi Amaechi. Buhari’s deputy, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, came a surprisingly weak third with just 235 votes. In his acceptance speech, Tinubu said if elected he would focus on reducing insecurity, a major concern in Nigeria. Other priorities would include boosting local industry and building a large port in the southeastern city of Calabar, he said. The ruling party candidate would usually be considered the favourite in Nigeria, which has a long history of electoral fraud and violence. However, in 2015, Buhari was the opposition candidate when he won an election widely considered among the cleanest the country had seen. Tinubu’s main opponent will be the People’s Democratic Party candidate Atiku Abubakar, who was vice president from 1999 to 2007 under former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The Debt Management Office (DMO) says Nigeria’s total public debt (federal and state governments) hit ₦41.6 trillion at the end of the first quarter (Q1) of 2022. This represents an increase of ₦2.04 trillion compared to the ₦39.56 trillion recorded at the end of December 2021. In a statement on Tuesday, the DMO attributed the increase to new domestic borrowing by the federal government to partly finance the deficit in the 2022 budget, the $1.25 billion Eurobond issued in March 2022, and disbursements by multilateral and bilateral lenders. The agency said that there were also increases in the debt stock of the state governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The debt management agency said the total public debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio was 23.27 percent as of March 31, 2022. This, it explained, is still below Nigeria’s self-imposed limit of 40 percent. According to the agency, the momentum by the government to grow and diversify revenues remains a priority in order to ensure debt sustainability.

Access Bank Plc says it has entered into an agreement to acquire the entire 83.4 percent equity stake held by Centum Investment, a Kenyan-based investment company, in Sidian Bank, for the sum of about ₦15 billion ($37 million). The financial institution announced the acquisition in a statement on Wednesday. Access Bank said the purchase consideration includes the price to “book multiple of 1.1x” based on the audited March 31, 2022 shareholders’ equity of Sidian. “Sidian will be merged with Access Bank’s subsidiary in Kenya, Access Bank Kenya, to create a stronger banking institution better positioned to serve the Kenyan market,” the statement reads. Commenting on the transaction, Herbert Wigwe, the group chief executive, Access Corporation said: “This growth transaction being implemented in Kenya represents the relentless focus and execution of our strategic objectives within our banking subsidiary even as we grow the other businesses within Access Corporation’s core segments.” The bank said the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals in Kenya and Nigeria. The recent buy is the bank’s sixth acquisition in five years. In 2018, the lender acquired Diamond Bank through a merger and acquisition deal, completed in 2019. In the fourth quarter of the same year, it acquired Transnational Bank (Kenya) Plc. In August 2020, the bank also announced the acquisition of Cavmont Bank Limited through a merger deal and finalised the process in January 2021.

Algeria suspended a 20-year-old friendship treaty with Spain that committed the two sides to cooperate in controlling migration flows, and also banned imports from Spain, escalating a row over Madrid’s stance on Western Sahara. Algerian state media reported the suspension of the treaty without citing any reason, though Algeria had in March withdrawn its ambassador to Spain for consultations because of the Western Sahara dispute. Spanish diplomatic sources said Spain regretted the decision but remained committed to the content and principle of the treaty. Separately, Algeria’s banking association issued a statement telling banks that imports of goods and services from Spain were stopping because the treaty was suspended. The 2002 treaty called on both sides to “deepen their cooperation in the control of migratory flows and the fight against trafficking against human beings” according to the text recorded in Spain’s official journal. On Wednesday, 113 undocumented migrants arrived in Spain’s Balearic Islands, a route that Spanish authorities said tended to be used by boats coming from Algeria. Algeria was angered when Spain said in March it supported a Moroccan plan to offer autonomy to Western Sahara. Algeria backs the Polisario Front movement seeking full independence for the territory, which Morocco regards as its own and mostly controls. Algeria is a key gas supplier to Spain, but Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has previously said he would not break the supply contract over the row. Since the Western Sahara conflict flared again in 2020, nearly three decades after a ceasefire, relations between Algeria and Morocco have sharply deteriorated. Spain’s shift towards Morocco’s stance on Western Sahara ended a dispute between Madrid and Rabat last year involving both the disputed territory and migration.