Monday, February 15, 1999 Published at 11:49 GMT
Ex-general favourite to lead Nigeria
Olusegun Obasanjo, fourth left, voted in January's state elections
Twenty years after leaving power, former military ruler Olusegun Obasanjo has won the presidential nomination of Nigeria's largest political party.
Mr Obasanjo, who held power between 1976 and 1979, stands out as Nigeria's only military ruler voluntarily to have handed over power to elected civilians.
Officials said Mr Obasanjo took nearly 1,700 votes from the 2,469 delegates at the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) convention in the central town of Jos.
His supporters, who had stayed up all night to watch the voting, immediately began celebrating in the streets surrounding the convention stadium.
In second place, with more than 520 votes, was former civilian Vice-President Alex Ekwueme.
The All Peoples' Party, Nigeria's second largest party, has named Ogbonnaya Onu as its presidential candidate. The low profile candidate is a former governor of eastern Abia state.
Under an electoral pact the two smaller parties are expected to field a single presidential candidate to stand against Mr Abasanjo.
Mr Obasanjo and 43 other soldiers and civilians accused of plotting a coup against the late General Abacha were handed lengthy jail terms by a special court martial in 1995.
When General Abubakar took over as head of state following the unexpected death of General Sani Abacha, he released nine key political prisoners, including Mr Obasanjo, in June 1998.
He is an ethnic Yoruba from south west Nigeria and correspondents say he enjoys the backing of many in the Hausa-speaking north, which has dominated Nigerian government for decades.
He also has the support of many retired and serving military officers.