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Nigeria's Bola Tinubu to lead Africa's troubled behemoth

Bola Tinubu, who is famous for modernising Lagos, campaigned on the slogan "it's my turn" to govern Nigeria

By Web Desk
May 29, 2023
Bola Tinubu, the newly-elected president of Nigeria. — AFP/File
Bola Tinubu, the newly-elected president of Nigeria. — AFP/File

Bola Tinubu, famous as the political 'godfather' in Nigeria, took over as the country's president on Monday when Muhammadu Buhari, a former general, resigned after serving two terms.

The 71-year-old southerner replaced an 80-year-old northerner as leader of the most populous country in Africa, which is now grappling with numerous economic and security issues, AFP reported.

"As president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I will discharge my duties and perform my functions honestly, to the best of my ability, faithfully, and in accordance with the constitution," Tinubu said during a live webcast from Eagle Square in the capital Abuja.

Among the foreign officials and leaders present during the occasion were presidents Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, as well as delegations from the US, Britain, and China.

Kashim Shettima was sworn in as vice president, succeeding Yemi Osinbajo.

Although the ruling party duo were declared winners of the February 25 election, gaining the highest number of votes (8.8 million), Tinubu only won a third of the vote, leaving him with a weak mandate, according to some analysts.

"The poor showing reflects "widespread disenchantment with his party's record, along with misgivings about his personal eligibility for the office," the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank said in a note.

While his tenure as governor of Lagos, Nigeria's commercial centre, from 1999 to 2007, which supporters claim modernised Lagos, has been highlighted, Tinubu campaigned on the slogan "it's my turn" to govern the country, Africa's biggest economy.

However, the new president is also faced with allegations of corruption, which he rejects, as well as health-related concerns.

Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, leaders of the opposition, are suing over the results, alleging fraud.

Although acknowledging "glitches" during the voting, the electoral commission rejected complaints that the procedure was not free and fair.

Moreover, the report also informed that a long list of important tasks awaits the next administration, beginning with the economy.

The list includes more than 80 million of the country´s estimated 210 million people living below the poverty line, according to the World Bank, and the UN has warned that over a quarter of those are facing acute hunger this year.

Furthermore, the plethora of issues includes many middle-class Nigerians moving abroad in hopes of a brighter future, insecurity, troops battling gangs of heavily armed criminals and kidnappers in central and northwestern states, oil thieves, pirates and separatists in the southeast, and a 14-year-old jihadist insurgency in the northeast.

"The next administration will need to work overtime to garner consensus on the legislative agenda," said Afolabi Adekaiyaoja in a report for the Abuja-based Centre for Democracy and Development.