Elected in February in a controversial election, the new Nigerian President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu is invested Monday. He will have to lead a country that is sinking into an economic crisis and facing generalized insecurity.
He kept repeating that his “hour” had come: Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a politician as powerful as he is controversial, must take the oath on Monday May 29 and take over as head of Nigeria. Lifelong ambition.
At 71, the man who is nicknamed “the godfather”, the “kingmaker” or even “the boss” for his considerable influence was elected in February, in the first round and with a comfortable lead, president of the country on most populated in Africa. His two main opponents denounced “massive” fraud during the ballot and filed legal proceedings, still under examination.
With his victory, this multimillionaire Muslim, an ardent defender of democracy in exile during the military dictatorship of the 1990s, has climbed all the political levels. A rise punctuated by many accusations of corruption, without ever being convicted.
If Bola Ahmed Tinubu was the favourite, the last weeks of the campaign had reshuffled the cards, in particular due to gigantic shortages of petrol and tickets, which had fueled resentment against the ruling party. Experts had described this presidential election as the least predictable since the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999. Mainly because of a surprise candidate, Peter Obi, favorite of urban youth, who came third behind former vice-president Atiku Abubakar .
Doubts about his state of health
In a country where the state of health of the leaders is a sensitive subject, the condition of Bola Ahmed Tinubu worries. Appeared fragile on television, showing tremors several times in public, he made several trips abroad before his inauguration and during the campaign.
The interested party refutes by broadcasting videos of him spinning on an exercise bike or dancing, visibly hilarious.
His communication is not enough to reassure Nigerians, marked by the numerous trips abroad of the outgoing Muhammadu Buhari to treat a secret illness. A good part also believes that Bola Ahmed Tinubu is well over 71 years old.
The politician with the eternal traditional Yoruba hat governed Lagos, the economic heart of Nigeria, for eight years (1999-2007). A former man in the shadows with a frail silhouette, he retained considerable influence there.
Patronage remains pervasive in Nigeria. A fine strategist, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has always been perceived as the man behind all the political appointments in his native region (southwest) and well beyond. For many, his influence had propelled Muhammadu Buhari to the head of the state in 2015 and allowed him to be re-elected in 2019. Hence his nickname “kingmaker”.
Poverty and insecurity
Crowned in his turn, Bola Ahmed Tinubu will have the difficult task of putting the country back on track, after two mandates marked by the explosion of poverty and insecurity. The “godfather” assured that his priorities would be security and economic recovery, including the end of fuel subsidies, a very sensitive subject in Nigeria.
For this, he highlights his successes in Lagos, attributing to himself the spectacular transformation of the megalopolis of 20 million inhabitants during his two mandates, marked by the influx of foreign capital.
But Bola Ahmed Tinubu still suffers from his image as a man “belonging to an old political class short of ideas, present for too long on the political scene, which is seen as a fault”, explains Udo Jude Ilo, of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (Osiwa). Especially after the bloody repression of a movement against police violence, in October 2020, which revealed the gap between a youth in search of representation and a septuagenarian elite reputed to be corrupt.
The fortune of the “boss” – whose source and exact amount are unknown – is also much talked about: he is considered one of the richest men in the country, with shares in many companies, from the media to the aviation, hotels and real estate.
Many have accused him of corruption and money laundering, especially when the American justice cited him in connection with a vast heroin trafficking in the 1990s in the United States, which he has always denied.
Repeatedly, his campaign slogan, “Emi Lokan” (It’s my turn), did not help him shed his reputation as a power-hungry man.
Source: France 24