Bola Tinubu is a Nigerian politician and accountant, who has led the All Progressives Congress (APC) since the party’s inception in 2013. He was the Governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007 and the Senator for Lagos West during the Third Republic.
Tinubu is well-known both within and outside the country. He is popularly known as the “Jagaban”, a title bestowed upon him by the Borgu Kingdom in Niger State. He exemplified the meaning of his traditional title from Niger State – chief of warriors – as he defied all the odds to be elected as Nigeria’s 16th president.
So, who is Bola Tinubu, the country’s current President-elect?
Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu was born in Lagos State, Nigeria, on March 29, 1952. The late Abibatu Mogaji, his mother, was a trader who rose to become the Iyaloja of Lagos State.
He went to Children’s Home School in Ibadan, Nigeria, and St. John’s Primary School in Aroloya, Lagos. In 1975, Tinubu moved to the United States to study at Richard J. Daley College in Chicago, Illinois, and afterwards at Chicago State University. He received his Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree in 1979.
Tinubu worked with Arthur Andersen, Deloitte, Haskins & Sells, and GTE Services Corporation in the United States. Bola Tinubu returned to Nigeria in 1983 and joined Mobil Oil Nigeria, where he rose through the ranks to become a senior executive.
He entered politics in 1992 as a member of the Peoples Front faction of the Social Democratic Party, which was led by Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and included politicians such as Umaru Yar’Adua, Atiku Abubakar, Baba Gana Kingibe, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila, Magaji Abdullahi, Dapo Sarumi, and Yomi Edun. In the short-lived Nigerian Third Republic, he was elected to the Senate, representing Lagos West.
Tinubu became a founding member of the pro-democracy National Democratic Coalition, a group that galvanized support for the restoration of democracy and recognition of Moshood Abiola as the election’s winner, after the results of the 12 June 1993 presidential elections were annulled.
He went into exile in 1994 after General Sani Abacha assumed power as military head of state, and returned to the country in 1998 after the military dictator’s death, ushering in the Fourth Nigerian Republic.
Bola Tinubu was a protégé of Alliance for Democracy (AD) leaders Abraham Adesanya and Ayo Adebanjo in the run-up to the 1999 elections.
He went on to defeat Funsho Williams and Wahab Dosunmu, a former Minister of Works and Housing, in the AD primary for the Lagos State governorship elections. In January 1999, he was elected governor.
Tinubu pledged 10,000 housing units for the underprivileged when he took office in May 1999, but he has yet to deliver. During his eight years in office, he made significant investments in education in the state and reduced the number of schools by returning many to their previous owners who were already settled. He also started new road construction to fulfil the needs of the state’s rapidly rising population.
As Governor of Lagos State, Tinubu implemented a reform plan that significantly improved the working conditions of judicial personnel, especially magistrates. He overhauled the civil and criminal procedure rules and established the Citizens Mediation Centre, a well-staffed and autonomous Office of the Public Defender that provides legal assistance to the needy. In addition, Tinubu developed five new general hospitals in Lagos State.
He improved the Lagos State Teaching Hospital’s amenities (LASUTH) He offered free healthcare to women, including free antenatal care, free eye treatments, and free spectacles, which he dubbed ‘JIGI BOLA.’ He created the LAGBUS and the Bus Rapid Transit system. He also formed the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA).
Tinubu established 37 Development Areas for Local Councils. He was also the driving force for the All Progressives Congress (APC) formation.
In 2014, Tinubu backed former military Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, the leader of the Congress for Progressive Change, who held a large following in northern Nigeria and had previously run for president as the CPC’s presidential candidate in 2003, 2007, and 2011. The CPC merged with Tinubu’s party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria’s Peoples Party (ANPP), the nPDP members from the Peoples Democratic Party and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Tinubu reportedly intended to be Buhari’s vice-presidential candidate at first, but he eventually made way for Yemi Osibanjo, a close ally and his former Commissioner of Justice. Buhari rode the APC to victory in 2015, ending the PDP’s 16-year hegemony, making then-President Goodluck Jonathan become the first incumbent president in Nigerian history to lose to an opposition candidate.
He is regarded as the second richest politician in Nigeria. His net worth is estimated at N1.66 trillion ($4bn).
Aside from being a politician, he has other businesses, some of which include The Nation newspaper, Television Continental (TVC) and Max FM. He owns many luxurious cars, a private jet and several luxury houses all over the country and beyond.
Tinubu is a devout Muslim. Oluremi Tinubu, the current Senator for the Lagos Central Senatorial District, is his wife. Tinubu has three children namely, Folashade, Oluwaseyi and Abibat. His fourth child, Jide, died in November 2017.
Adewale Tinubu, his nephew, is the CEO of Oando. Abibatu Mogaji, his mother, died on June 15, 2013, at the age of 96. Jide, his son, had a heart attack in London on October 31, 2017, and was later confirmed dead.
Tinubu informed President Muhammadu Buhari of his intention to run for President of Nigeria on January 10, 2022, thereby making it his formal announcement.
The former Lagos State governor polled a total of 1,271 votes to emerge victorious in the APC presidential primary on June 8, 2022. He defeated Rotimi Amaechi, a former minister; and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who got 316 and 235 votes, respectively,
There has been so much controversy concerning his age. Although public evidence indicates he is 70 years old, many have claimed he is far older. Some speculated that Folashade, his daughter and Iyaloja of Lagos, is 60 years old and that he could not have fathered her when he was 10 years.
However, according to documented research, he is 70 years old.
Road to presidency
At the start of the year 2022, while several speculations were swirling in the air regarding the presidential ambition of the former Lagos state governor, Tinubu formally declared his intentions to run for Nigeria’s highest political office in 2023. Tinubu, who has been the APC National Leader, met with President Buhari at the State House in Abuja on January 10, 2022, where he made his intentions known in a closed-door meeting.
While speaking to reporters on his declaration, the APC chieftain described himself as a “Kingmaker”, who now aspires to attain the role of “King”. This was a reference to the significant roles he plays in supporting his party members in the achievement of their respective political ambitions, particularly in Lagos State.
“I have informed the President of my ambition but I have not informed Nigerians yet, I am still consulting. There’s nowhere in the world where a kingmaker cannot himself be king,” Tinubu told reporters.
“About the cap of a kingmaker. I’ve never seen the cap of a kingmaker before. That is the truth. And I have never seen where it is written in the rulebook anywhere in any country that a kingmaker cannot be a king unless he has committed murder. So, whatever you write is your own opinion. Me, I want to pursue my ambition without the title of a kingmaker.”
Running under the APC, Tinubu described himself as a candidate possessing confidence, vision and the capacity to rule. He also made sure to let the world know that his declaration to run for the Presidency is a result of a lifelong ambition of his.
Securing the presidential ticket
On June 8, 2022, following an in-house voting poll among party members of the APC, Tinubu emerged winner of the party’s presidential primary. Following his victory, he got the party’s ticket to run for Nigeria’s ultimate seat of power in the 2023 elections, having received the majority of the votes cast by the delegates.
The former governor of Lagos State received 1,271 votes overall to win the nomination ahead of former transportation minister, Rotimi Amaechi; Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo; and Senate President, Ahmad Lawan. While his closest challenger, Amaechi polled 316 votes, Osinbajo scored 235 votes.
He ran against 13 other candidates, including Governor Ben Ayade, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Ahmed Rufai, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Jack Rich, Senator Ahmed Yarima, Senator Ahmed Lawan, Governor Yahaya Bello, and Ogbonnaya Onu, a former minister of science and technology.
Before the commencement of the voting process, nine candidates had already withdrawn from the race; eight of them encouraged their supporters to endorse Tinubu, while one asked them to support Osinbajo.
Jigawa Governor, Abubakar Badaru; Senator Robert Boroffice, Ex-Senate President, Ken Nnamani; former Ogun governor, Ibikunle Amosun, ex-speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole; Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, and former governor and minister, Godswill Akpabio were among those to step down before the start of voting.
Tinubu’s candidacy was highly anticipated, given his political clout and experience as a former governor of Lagos State and his instrumentality in the formation of the APC.
Declaration as President-elect
The February 2023 election came with so much nostalgia and unpredictability. The names of their preferred candidates and the political parties they were affiliated with were all that Nigerians spoke of on that very day.
Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) were four of the top candidates in the race for Nigeria’s top office.
After so much activity and hassles, along with several reports of illegality that trailed the election day and the electoral process, Nigerians around the country were able to cast their votes for their preferred candidates.
After a three-day coalition of electoral results, Tinubu was named the winner of the 2023 presidential election and Nigeria’s president-elect. The declaration was made by Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
With a total of 8,794,726 million votes, Tinubu defeated his closest rival, PDP’s Atiku, who received 6,984,520 votes. Obi of the Labour Party followed suit, receiving a total of 6,101,533 votes; while former Kano State governor, Kwankwaso of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), received 1,496,687 votes overall.
Out of the 36 states in the federation, Tinubu, the national leader of the APC, triumphed in 12 of them. However, he was trounced by Obi in Lagos State, which he ruled for eight years between 1999 and 2007. Another surprising turn of events was his loss in Katsina, the home state of incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.
The APC chieftain, however, got the victory in the following states: Niger, Benue, Kogi, Zamfara, Jigawa, Oyo, Rivers, Ogun, Ondo, Kwara, Ekiti, and Borno.
The rollercoaster of events that has trailed the presidential elections began with the overwhelming nostalgia that Nigerians felt due to the significant choice ahead of them as citizens of Africa’s most populous country. As the “election month” of February chimed in, the nostalgia intensified.
As Nigerians are in the midst of several economic crises like fuel scarcity and the unavailability of cash following the rebranding of the new currency notes, the only hope that the populace held onto was the election of a new and more credible government.
Ultimately, the highly anticipated presidential election phase has come and gone, the votes have been collated and the declaration of the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been made, even amidst several debates and chaos.
As the incumbent President of Nigeria, Buhari, vacates his position of power, following the end of his second term on May 29, 2023, Nigerians are now left to look forward to “renewed hope” for an even better administration under the newly announced President-elect Tinubu.
Tinubu is deemed to be a controversial leader in Nigeria. He is popularly known as the “Godfather of Lagos State” by many.
In 2007, he was brought before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on allegations of operating 16 bank accounts while in office as governor. He was however cleared. He was also cleared by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Lion of Bourdillon, a 2015 documentary showcasing Tinubu’s reported political and financial grasp on the mega city-state, allegedly exposed his role in tugging the strings of the state.
However, he sued the producers, AIT, for N150 billion in libel, and the documentary was withdrawn from broadcast on March 6, 2015. Nonetheless, antecedents such as his overbearingness on successors, such as allegations in December 2009 that Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola, his successor as Lagos State governor, had feuded over Fashola’s re-election in 2011, with the Jagaban reportedly choosing Muiz Banire, the commissioner for the environment, as his chosen candidate.
Also, two bullion vans were seen entering Tinubu’s home on Bourdillion Road in Ikoyi during the 2019 election, with Tinubu declaring: “I keep money wherever I want.”
It is, however, expected that Tinubu will be more of a statesman and leader when he is sworn into office on May 29, 2023.