Lagos - In a no-contest vote, President Goodluck Jonathan was nominated as the ruling party's leader for the February 2015 elections early on Thursday, while the opposition coalition was still voting for a candidate to take him on.
The upcoming presidential race is expected to be the closest fought since the end of military rule in 1999.
Close to 3 000 delegates for the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) gathered in the capital Abuja to celebrate with dance and song. The vote was only a formality since the party's board had already approved the president as sole candidate.
"I stand before you to accept your nomination as the candidate of our great party. I am greatly honoured...I will not fail the party. I will not fail our nation," Jonathan told the crowd.
A southern Christian Jonathan has come under fire for a mounting insurgency by Boko Haram and faces a tough re-election battle. Underlining the country's security woes, a suicide bomber killed four in Kano on Wednesday.
Also Read: PDP boasts Buhari, Atiku put together can't defeat Jonathan
Two political heavyweights lead the five-strong field for the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket - former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari and ex-vice president Atiku Abubakar. Both men are Muslims from the country's north.
The APC primary results are expected to be announced later on Thursday morning.
Buhari is the frontrunner. He has huge grassroots support and is seen as one of the few leaders in the country's history who was tough on corruption after he seized power in a 1983 coup. He was deposed less than two years later.
"A respectable man like General Buhari, I'm sure he can win," said Femi Afolabi, a retired journalist from the southwest. "He's upright, disciplined and against corruption."
Earlier on Wednesday, traffic ground to a standstill in the commercial capital Lagos as eight thousand delegates for the APC entered the national stadium to cast their ballots to the sound of beating drums and cheers.