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Nigerian Opposition to Run Religiously-Mixed Presidential Ticket

Presidential aspirant and former Nigerian military ruler Muhammadu Buhari speaks as he presents his manifesto at All Progressives Congress party convention in Lagos, Dec. 11, 2014.

Nigerian presidential hopeful Muhammadu Buhari has picked a Christian law professor, Yemi Osinbajo, to be his running mate in the February election.

Buhari's choice, announced Wednesday, follows a pattern of religious and regional balance on Nigerian presidential tickets. Buhari is a Muslim from northern Nigeria, while his running mate is a Christian from the south.

The opposition Buhari/Osinbajo ticket will run against a similarly balanced pair: incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, a southern Christian, and his running mate and current vice president Namadi Sambo, a Muslim northerner.

Nigeria's 170 million people are almost evenly split between the two religions.

Osinbajo is a former law professor and the pastor of a church. He is a former attorney general of Lagos state and a senior partner in a law firm.

Buhari, a retired officer in the Nigerian army, was president of Nigeria from 1983 to 1985. He ran in the 2011 presidential election, but lost to President Jonathan.

That result set off violence in the Muslim-majority north that killed some 800 people.

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