Bola Tinubu – the “godfather” who was sworn in as President of Nigeria

Bola Tinubu

Bola Tinubu is known as the political “godfather” of the South West

Bola Tinubu, 71, has been sworn in as Nigeria’s president after winning the country’s most competitive election since the end of military rule in 1999.

Widely credited with reshaping Nigeria’s Lagos commercial hub, Mr Tinubu knocked out a split opposition party and a youth-backed third-party candidate in February’s elections.

Defeated candidates Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi are challenging his victory in court, alleging the result was manipulated.

Mr Tinubu dismissed the allegation and hailed the peaceful transfer of power as “our enduring faith in representative government”.

He replaces Muhammadu Buhari, who resigned after serving two terms.

Africa’s most populous country faces a struggling economy, widespread insecurity and high inflation. Many will want Mr Tinubu up and running when he takes on one of Africa’s most daunting jobs.

Once forced into exile by military ruler Sani Abacha, Mr. Tinubu knows the value of freedom and wears it as a badge on his signature hat – a broken shackle that resembles a horizontal figure eight.

An accountant by training, it was the activities of the pro-democracy group National Democratic Coalition (Nadeco), of which he was a member, that brought him into Abacha’s crosshairs.

Opposition from groups like Nadeco and the death of Abacha in 1998 ushered in Nigerian democracy in 1999 and in many ways Mr Tinubu, a former Mobil Oil executive, feels entitled to the presidency Nigerian.

Mr Tinubu – known to his supporters as “Jagaban”, which translates to “chief of warriors”, a title of the Emir of Borgu in Niger state – will now seek to unify a country which fall back on regional lines and religious blocs, as the election results showed.

But it’s not a job that bothers him. He pointed to his stint as Governor of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007 to sell his candidacy to Nigerians.

Under his tenure, Lagos has massively boosted its revenue through huge foreign investment, while a public transport system that has seen new lanes created for fast buses has eased the notorious traffic jams commuters face daily.

A driver stands in front of a Lagos danfo

Despite its enormous wealth, Lagos has been unable to resolve its notorious traffic jams by completing a light rail project launched by Mr Tinubu

But the city of around 25 million people has failed to live up to its reputation as a megacity despite claims of transforming it.

Public infrastructure is largely in a state of disrepair – basic amenities such as water and social housing are dilapidated, while a light rail project begun during his tenure has not been completed for nearly 20 years later despite the wealth of the state.

He has also been accused of maintaining a stranglehold on state finances despite leaving in 2007.

Each succeeding governor has been a protege following a “great road map”, while one who dared to find his own path was quickly brought to heel, aided by powerful members of the transport union.

There are also corruption allegations against Mr Tinubu, which he denies.

Two years ago, Dapo Apara, an accountant at Alpha-beta, a company in which Mr Tinubu allegedly holds stakes through a pal, accused him of using the company for money laundering. money, fraud, tax evasion and other corrupt practices.

Mr Tinubu was prosecuted despite himself and Alpha-beta denied the allegations, but all parties decided to settle out of court last June.

Such allegations, including twice before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) of Nigeria, on alleged breaches of the code for public officials – where he was cleared – have opponents saying that Mr Tinubu is not the right man for the job in a country where corruption is high. .

In previous elections, a brazen display of an armored van used by banks to move cash at his lavish complex in Lagos’s Ikoyi neighborhood fueled suspicions that he was involved in vote-buying, which he made no great effort to deny.

“If I have money, if I love, I give it freely to people, as long as it [it’s] not to buy votes,” he said.

He is one of the richest politicians in Nigeria but there are questions about his wealth.

In December he told the BBC he had inherited property which he then invested in, but in the past he has also said he had become an ‘instant millionaire’ while working as an auditor at Deloitte and Touche.

He said he saved $1.8m (£1.5m) from his wages and other allowances, roughly the same amount found in accounts linked to him in a dispute of 1993 with the American authorities.

In publicly available documents, the US Department of Justice has alleged that since early 1988, accounts opened in Bola Tinubu’s name held the proceeds of white heroin sales.

Kevin Moss, the special agent who investigated the operation, alleged that Mr Tinubu was working for their prime suspect Adegoboyega Akande.

While the court confirmed it had reason to believe the money in the bank accounts was the proceeds of drug trafficking, Mr Tinubu and the others denied the allegations and the court never issued a verdict. final order on the origin of the money.

Instead, Mr Tinubu, who was not personally charged with the money, struck a compromise deal with the authorities and lost $460,000.

Mr Tinubu is also facing questions about his health, after posting an eight-second video of him riding an exercise bike as proof of his fitness.

Opponents say his age is catching up with him and point to videos of various gaffes at campaign rallies where it can be difficult to understand what he is saying.

Many Nigerians are wary of another president with health problems after President Umaru Yar’Adua died in 2010 and Mr Buhari spent a lot of time seeking treatment abroad.

But Mr Tinubu’s supporters say he has the stamina for the job and is not competing for an Olympics spot.

Buhari, Osinbajo and Tinubu

Mr Tinubu (L) claims to have helped Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (C) and President Buhari (R) to take office

During the campaign, there was controversy over his choice of a running mate.

Mr Tinubu, a Muslim from the south, chose former Borno state governor Kashim Shettima, a Muslim from the north, as vice president.

The move was seen as appeasing Nigeria’s Muslim-majority north, which has the country’s largest electoral bloc.

However, he has drawn the ire of many Christians who say he went against the tradition of mixed tickets for the presidency.

He defended his choice by saying that he was in favor of jurisdiction over primary interests.

He is considered the political “godfather” of the southwestern region and its most influential figure, who decides the distribution of power among his many cronies.

In 2015, he described himself as a “talent hunter” who puts “talent to work”.

His immense political influence led to the merger of opposition parties in 2013 and ultimately wrested power from the then ruling PDP in 2015 – a rarity in Nigeria where incumbents are not often defeated.

During his party’s primary, when it looked like Mr Tinubu’s aspirations were waning, he reminded Nigerians that he was largely responsible for installing Mr Buhari after the former military ruler repeatedly failed to win the presidency.

Associates of Mr Buhari have since tried to downplay the former governor’s influence in the 2015 election, but it is unlikely Mr Buhari would have won twice without Mr Tinubu’s backing.

Having secured the presidency, Mr Tinubu will have to tackle many of the problems left behind by Mr Buhari – widespread insecurity, high unemployment, rising inflation and a country divided along ethnic lines.

It is not impossible work, but the task before us is difficult.

Nigeria Election Chart

Nigeria Election Chart

Nigeria Election Chart

Nigeria Election Chart

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