In the face of strong headwinds, President-elect Tinubu will need to appoint strong heads in order to prevail
There was never going to be easy time to take office in Africa’s largest economy. However Nigeria’s President-elect Bola Tinubu – set to be inaugurated on 29th May – is facing some significant challenges before he has even got his feet under the table.
Mr. Tinubu’s victory at the polls back in February has long been disputed by opposition figures. But fuel was added to the fire this week when a BBC investigation found evidence suggesting some results from the presidential election may have been manipulated.
The BBC is said to have uncovered some significant anomalies in Rivers state, a key battleground, although not sufficient to change the overall national outcome of the election. Nevertheless, the findings are certain to cast further doubt on the legitimacy of the President-elect at a time when Nigeria is in need of strong and stable leadership in the face of a struggling economy, heightened security risks and spiralling inflation.
The report comes as Mr Tinubu is said to be having trouble securing recognition from his foreign counterparts. Ambassadors to Nigeria are also said to be turning to their home capitals for advice as to how to deal with the incoming government in light of the shadows of uncertainty that have been cast over it.
Other question marks hang over the President-elect’s head. Most notably, the international community is eagerly awaiting signs of a plan or sense of direction regarding his incoming cabinet, about which little has been said, let alone confirmed.
Doing so might help to reassure both the Nigerian population and the world’s governments that the President-elect has a serious plan for country, both foreign and domestic, and that his government deserves the international recognition required to implement it.
However it is not difficult to infer who the President-elect is likely to pick based on the individuals he has already nominated to his Presidential Transition Council, while sources close to the matter have also highlighted a number of key names likely to fill significant roles. So who are the figures tipped to lead Nigeria as it approaches a crucial crossroads in its modern history?
- Chief Adebayo Olawale Edun: The Harvard educated economist and ex-Goldman Sachs banker is credited with having helped the President-elect achieve the regeneration of Lagos State for which he was best known during his time as Governor. The country will be hoping that the Lagos blueprint will be applied to the country as a whole. As such the appointment of Mr. Edun would be likely to inject a sense of confidence in those voters who approved of the President-elect’s track record while Governor.
- Sanusi Lamido Sanusi: The former Emir of Kano and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria is a world class economist whose appointment would likely be welcomed with open arms by the international community. The Banker magazine recognised him as the 2010 Central Bank Governor of the Year for leading a radical anti-corruption campaign in the sector – the first of its kind during the financial crisis. Sanusi is widely recognized for his contribution to a risk management culture in Nigerian banking. Sanusi has spoken at a number of international events including the 2013 World Economic Forum.
- Prince Malik Ado-Ibrahim: The Young People’s Party (YPP) presidential candidate would naturally be a popular cabinet pick for the country’s burgeoning youth population. The renowned businessman and politician has a reputation as a well-rounded thinker and trusted advisor. His wide array of expertise across climate, energy and national security issues make him popular amongst the country’s youth and the international diplomatic community alike.
- General Sulaiman Dili Aliyu: The retired General is a highly decorated senior military officer known for his competence on national security issues as well as his mastery of several languages, likely to hold him in good stead amongst his foreign counterparts, should he be appointed to cabinet. Nigeria’s spiralling security issues will require someone of his stature to take the lead on the country’s priorities both domestically and regionally. Over the course of his 33 year career in the Nigerian Army, General Aliyu was at different times the Chief Instructor at Military Engineering School, a UN Military Observer in Macedonia, and Nigeria’s Defence Attaché to China with concurrent accreditation to Japan, Vietnam, Mongolia, North Korea, Laos and Bhutan. He was also at one time the Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence at the Defence Intelligence Agency.
- Adewole Adebayo: The lawyer and presidential candidate for the Social Democratic Party is the kind of deep-thinking and enterprising individual that should be expected at the table of Mr Tinubu’s cabinet. Mr Adebayo, who founded KAFTAN TV, a Nigerian independent 24-hour television channel, as well as his own law firm, Adewole Adebayo & Co, is also a renowned philanthropist who sponsors nearly 2,000 young Nigerians in tertiary educational institutions both at home and abroad.
Nigeria’s February 2023 general election should have been a triumph of democracy. For the first time since the country transitioned from military to civilian rule in 1999, no former army generals appeared on the presidential ballot. Nigeria had already achieved the all-important milestone of a peaceful transfer of power between political parties in 2015, when Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress defeated the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party. And this year, President Buhari adhered to the country’s term limits and passed the baton to Mr Tinubu, another member of his party.
Instead however the incoming government continues to be mired in controversy. In the face of strong headwinds, President-elect Tinubu will need to appoint strong heads in order to prevail.