Tinubu: Walking thorny path to presidency
Tomorrow, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will be sworn in as the 16th President of Nigeria amid pomp and pageantry. The event will crown his political journey that began in 1991 as a member of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), the political group of the late Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters, Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (rtd.), who later became the leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
While some of his predecessors in office such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan had smooth rides to Aso Rock, Tinubu walked a thorny path, like a political warrior and defender of democracy, that he is.
To the City Boy, as he is called by his admirers, “power is not served a la carte. It requires serious hard work to come by.” Indeed, he worked harder than most of his contemporaries seeking to govern Nigeria. Tinubu’s ascendancy to the presidency will also fulfill what he called his, “lifetime ambition” to govern Nigeria, even when opinions were divided on whether his ambition would meet up with the expectations of Nigerians who are yearning for good governance since the return of democracy in 1999.
Is he ready to approach governance differently and challenge the status quo to put the country on the path of development? Will he reunite the country and shun nepotism and favouritism? These are some of the questions agitating the minds of Nigerians, as he will mount the podium at Eagles Square, Abuja tomorrow to take the oath of office.
Without doubt, Tinubu had a chequered political trajectory as the youngest strategist in Yar’Adua’s camp, despite being a rookie in Nigerian politics. He was said to have amazed many politicians of the First and Second republics with his in-depth analysis and accurate prescriptions for solving knotty political issues, which endeared him to his superiors in politics.
Many of his supporters see him as ‘Awolowo’ of this period, because of his deep understanding of the political economy of Nigeria. He is also said to have gone a bit further in politics than the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo in embracing more handshakes across the Niger. Many believe he must have understudied the late winner of the June 12, Presidential elections, Bashorun MKO Abiola, who broke the jinx that a Southwest politician could not win an election in the North. And, his election confirmed Awolowo’s postulation in 1983, “that at a time in the near future, you will get the thesis and anti-thesis resulting in a synthesis of progressive politics in Nigeria.”
Although he returned to Nigeria in 1983 to join Mobil Oil after studying Accounting at Chicago State University and a stint in Arthur Andersen, Deloitte, and GTE Services Corporation in the United States, by 1992 Tinubu was among the “Newbreed” politicians the former Head of State, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, allowed to contest elections, and he was elected as Senator representing Lagos West constituency in the Third Republic that lasted just 22 months.
Tinubu made a name for himself in the National Assembly by leading the Senate Committee on Banking, Finance, Appropriations and Currency. Despite the fact that lawmakers at that period were not granted full autonomy to operate because all their activities were guided by the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC), led by the self-styled military President, he was one of the brilliant politicians that moved the NASS.
The recently suspended chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Iyorcha Ayu, was the Senate President.
In a reminiscence of the Babangida’s contraption called the Third Republic, Tinubu said: “The Third Republic was not expected to last long. Indeed, of all our nation’s republics, it was the shortest: it began in January 1992 following the election of state governors in December 1991.
“It ended on November 17, 1993, with the Abacha coup against the Interim National Government of Ernest Shonekan. This happened some five months after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election, won clearly by Moshood Kashimawo Abiola.
“The entire transition programme of the military administration of the time was designed to fail. It was meant to make then-military President Babangida succeed himself as a civilian president.
“First, the military government attempted to clone a new set of politicians known as the Newbreed. It introduced Option A4, a system of voting done by queuing behind candidates, a novelty in the making of democratic choices. It imposed a two-party system, with defined ideologies.
“Under the Third Republic, Nigerians also witnessed a form of government known as diarchy, with elected state governors being bossed by a military president. We had presidential primaries cancelled and participants banned. Then a year later, the most unexpected happened with the annulment of the June 12 election.”
Tinubu And Annulment Of June 12, 1993 Election
WHEN Gen Babangida annulled the June 12, 1993 Presidential election won by the late Bashorun MKO Abiola, Senator Tinubu was among prominent Nigerians who kicked against the injustice and the move by the military dictator to perpetuate himself in office. Tinubu did not only physically participate in various peaceful protests against the annulment; he addressed many press conferences to condemn Babangida and made the office too hot for him.
Tinubu said: “The annulment was a bitter pill to swallow, especially for the millions of people who expended so much time, energy, and material resources to help ensure victory for Chief MKO Abiola.
“The annulment was meant to halt the unstoppable and irresistible march to deeper democratic practice in Nigeria. That objective failed woefully.
“That annulled free and fair election taught us once again to organise. It tutored us in new tactics and strategies for confronting and ultimately overcoming the forces of dictatorship.”
He continued: “It revealed to us the imperative of forging working relationships and diverse networks across ethnic, religious, regional, and partisan divides if we were to move forward.
“It is this invaluable experience we gathered in the struggle to enthrone democracy and retrieve our country from the grip of dictatorship that emboldens us today to warn those directly or indirectly threatening our democracy through another military intervention to perish the idea.”
According to him, the late MKO selflessly committed so much of his substantial fortune toward ensuring his victory at the polls.
“Abiola could have chosen to abandon the mandate in order to rebuild and resuscitate his disrupted business, but he opted for the path of the true ‘Omoluabi’. He refused to sacrifice honour for an ephemeral mess of pottage.
“One enduring truth that June 12 demonstrated is that given inspirational, visionary and sincere leadership, Nigerians can rise above divisive primordial sentiments to demonstrate high patriotism and a belief in merit in their voting patterns.
“But even in our darkest moments, let the torch of democracy be our guide to the higher and nobler plains of good governance, strong institutions, reverence for the rule of law and a continually improving and growing economy.
“It is only through strengthening the institutions, practices and procedures of democracy that we, like the Americans, foremost exemplars of the democratic ideal, can ceaselessly strive moment by moment, day by day, and year by year to continually aspire toward a perfect union of our dreams.”
With the pressure from the international community and pro-democracy groups, Babangida on August 26, 1993 “stepped aside,” ending his eight-year reign with a failed promise to hand over to a democratically elected government.
The military dictator hurriedly put up an interim government headed by a technocrat, the late Chief Ernest Shonekan and left behind the Defence Minister, Gen Sani Abacha, his long time backer who played a prominent role in the 1985 coup that brought him in.
Abacha became the only military representative in the 32-member cabinet. Some Nigerians, like Tinubu, saw through Babangida’s plan and did not support the Interim National Government (ING), but kept on demanding the installation of Abiola as president of Nigeria. Pro-democracy groups had the support of Oil and Gas workers, students, the labour movement, and aviation workers to ground commercial and economic activities to demand for the restoration of Abiola’s mandate.
By November 17, 1993, Abacha shoved aside Shonekan in a bloodless military coup. The pro-democracy groups scaled up their protest against him. Abacha became ruthless and suspended the 1989 Constitution for a full-blown military government.
He also disbanded the national and state legislatures, removed the elected civilian governors, and banned all political activity, while, at the same time, avowing his intention to return the country to democracy.
In early May 1994, Abiola announced his intention to form “Government of National Unity (GNU).” A week after, the formation of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) was announced. The group, made up of politicians, retired military officials, and pro-democracy figures, was formed in an effort to coordinate and focus the various pro-democracy factions around four main demands: “The military must leave political office; Abiola must be installed as president; a sovereign national conference must be held to debate the country’s future; and the country must be restructured along truly federal lines.”
The plan by Abacha to hold another election for the constitutional conference were resisted by the members of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and disbanded lawmakers who met secretly and issued statements calling on Abacha to surrender power to Abiola.
On June 1, Ameh Ebute, the former senate president, publicly announced the senators’ decision to reconvene. Tinubu, Ebute, many senators and members of the House of Representatives were arrested the following day. They were detained without charge for weeks.
They were alleged to have committed treasonable offence against the state and Tinubu, on his part, was also accused of planning to bomb Ejigbo NNPC depot. They were later granted bail by the court after several weeks of being humiliated by the security agencies.
For declaring Abacha’s government illegal, his killer’s squad was let loose to exterminate them.
Tinubu had, at an interview, said: “I was at the forefront of the struggle at that level. When I went to see my uncle, K.O Tinubu, at home, he shed tears that night. He said he didn’t want to lose me and that I was about to be killed. He begged me to leave Nigeria and affirmed that being a former police officer, he was sure I would be killed.
“He said that I couldn’t return to my house since they had bombed it. I went to a friend’s house. Before then, there was an incident that made them believe that; I was at Ore Falomo’s hospital. They went to the hospital to look for me. Eventually, I left Nigeria for Benin Republic by NADECO route.”
Speaking on how he was able to beat security to cross the Nigeria border to Benin Republic, he said: “Suddenly, they announced that I was wanted again. They alleged that I was going to bomb the NNPC depot at Ejigbo. Ah! I was still being tried for treason, which carries a sentence of life imprisonment, and I was again accused of trying to bomb an NNPC depot. I couldn’t go back because my photograph was all over the place that I was wanted. A diplomatic source advised me that I should leave the country if I wanted to continue the struggle. Dan Suleiman, Alani Akinrinade were in danger. We asked Prof Bolaji Akinyemi to leave the country and promote the struggle at the international level.
“I disguised with a huge turban and babanriga and escaped into Benin Republic on a motorbike. My old Hausa friend gave the clothes to me. In fact, when I appeared to Kudirat Abiola, she didn’t know that I was the one!
“I gave her some information and some briefing. I left at 1.00am. While in Benin Republic, I was still coming to Badagry to ferry people, organise and coordinate the struggle with others on the ground. We put a group together, ferrying NADECO people across. It was a very challenging time. I would come from Benin to hold meetings with them and sneak back.
“The military created a whole lot of momentum around me. They took over my house, guest house and carted away all my vehicles and property to Alagbon. That is why today, I don’t have old photographs. They took eight of my cars away.
“My wife and my two toddlers were dropped in a bush; nowhere to go. The late Dr Beko Ransome Kuti and the diplomatic missions came to our aid and ferried my wife and kids to the United States. I was still in Benin Republic. Besides, I didn’t have a passport and couldn’t have been able to travel. At a stage, they discovered our routes, because they had spies all over, including Benin Republic. Twice I was caught and I fortuitously escaped. They traced me to one dingy hotel I was hiding.
“The day they came for me at the hotel, I had gone out on an Okada to buy amala at a market where Yorubas are dominant. I was also to meet Gen. Akinrinade and the rest of them. The spies went to the hotel and as I was approaching, I saw two people wearing tajia (skull caps) at the front desk, asking questions. The man attending to them at the reception (I had been very nice to the receptionist) winked at me and I turned back. I contacted a friend in Benin Republic, who was an architect and had very strong sympathy for us. Professor Wole Soyinka and Akinrinade, who lodged in a better hotel, were fortunate to have escaped that night too. The people on their trail pursued them to the hotel, but fortunately missed them.
“Then the British High Commission got proper information through the Consular-General that my life was in danger. He stamped a visa on a sheet of paper and did a letter, authorising the airline to pick me up from Benin Republic to any port of entry in Britain. I didn’t know how they got to me. A lady just walked up to me and handed me an envelope. She said I had been granted entry into the United Kingdom. She said I could be killed if I failed to leave in the next 48 hours. It was Air Afrique that took me from Benin Republic to London. Meanwhile, my wife was still in the United States. I landed in Britain and worked my way back to Benin Republic. I picked up my passport from somewhere. I went to an African country and through their connections; they gave me a diplomatic passport as a cultural ambassador.
“The African country that helped us with the diplomatic passport was showing gratitude for the help Abiola had done to its president before. Then, I was shuffling and coordinating our activities in the UK, Benin Republic and Cote d’Ivoire. I used the passport to travel to Cote d’Ivoire to hold meetings at the Hotel Continental because we were planning to make another broadcast that would be aired in Nigeria.
“By the time I returned to the hotel, the military assailants had broken into my hotel room and taken away my briefcase and a diplomatic passport. They dropped a note, saying: ‘You cannot be twice lucky.’ I was taken over by panic. Fortunately, in my back pocket, I had the photocopy of the sheet of paper on which the British had stamped a visa for me to travel out of Benin previously.
“I took that to the British High Commission in Abidjan. They listened to my story and asked me to come back at night. They did all their verification and found my story to be true. I returned to them and they gave me another sheet of paper and wrote the number of the flight that would take me out of that country.
“But I had no money. Somebody suddenly drove in. The person is a well-known name I don’t want to mention. I met him and explained my condition. He had a traveller’s cheque, but the money was not enough. I went back to the British High Commission and the woman said she could assist me with her own personal money to bridge the shortfall in cash.
“We founded and coordinated Radio Kudirat and Radio Freedom and we continued to organise. I didn’t see my family for two good years. They were in America. The law of political asylum stipulates that your first country of landing and acceptance is the safe haven, so it’s not transferable. That was how Cornelius Adebayo was stuck in a United Nations camp. My wife had to invoke a family clause that exists in America to fight for her husband to join her before they granted me a special privilege to leave UK to join my family in the United States.”
From Exile To Lagos House
THE sudden death of the maximum ruler, Abacha on June 8, 1998, paved the way for Gen Abdusalami Abubakar to become the Head of State. Abubakar did not toe Abacha’s line in muzzling the system to hold on to power. He announced a transition timetable, which he followed to the letter. Although circumstances leading to the death of Abiola on July 7, 1998, under his watch are still yet to clear even as he has severally denied any foul play in the unfortunate incident.
Abubakar, who had announced May 29, 1999, as handing over date to a democratically elected government, pardoned all pro-democracy activists and encourage them to return to Nigeria to participate in the transition process.
Tinubu returned to a heroic welcome from Lagosians, who knew what he went through during the despotic Abacha’s regime. The reception further emboldened him to continue with his plan to contest for the governorship election. He joined the Justice Forum, a political platform for the progressives in Lagos and became one of the prominent members that formed the Alliance for Democracy (AD).
He enjoyed the support of the NADECO and Afenifere leaders to emerge as the Lagos State governorship candidate of the party.
The maverick politician made mincemeat of fellow contestants and won a landslide victory. Tinubu polled 814,000 votes to defeat the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dapo Sarumi, who got 184,000; the candidate of All Peoples Party (APP), Nosiru Kekere Ekun scored 122,000 votes. Tinubu won 19 of the 20 local councils.
During his first term in office, President Olusegun Obasanjo of the PDP penetrated the leadership of Afenifere and had agreement with them to have support base in the Southwest; Tinubu was quick to see through Obasanjo’s plan to hijack the region for the PDP. He pulled out of the political deal.
His decision led to disagreement among the leaders of the AD and Afenifere, which led Tinubu to dump the party to form Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). The political events leading to the 2003 elections and the outcome proved him right as he was the only Southwest governor that survived Obasanjo’s onslaught. Even with that he polled 911,000 votes to defeat PDP’s candidate, Funsho Williams, who was heavily supported with the federal might. He got 740,000 votes.
All AD governors including Aremo Olusegun Osoba (Ogun), Lam Adeshina (Oyo), Chief Adebisi Akande (Osun) and Adebayo Adefarati (Ondo) lost elections in their respective states to the candidates of the PDP. Tinubu was the “last man standing.”
The development led to the political oblivion of the AD, but Tinubu continued his political struggle and became the leader of progressive politicians in Nigeria. His party, ACN became the party adopted by NADECO members and pro-democracy activists in Nigeria. Many will not forget in a hurry how he ensured that ACN, through the instrumentality of the judicial process “captured” Edo, Ekiti, Osun states and his support for Dr Olusegun Mimiko of the Labour Party (LP) to reclaim his mandate from the PDP’s Dr Olusegun Agagu. These achievements paved the way for the ACN to win elections in Ogun and Oyo states.
As an accountant and administrator, Tinubu redefined governance in Lagos State and re-organised its internal revenue drive to make it the best in Nigeria. Even when Obasanjo launched a war of attrition against his government by withholding Lagos State government shares from the federation pool, Tinubu’s government forged ahead in developing physical infrastructure of the state, prompt payment of salaries and gratuities to pensioners.
On his legacy as governor, he said, “My best legacy is the financial engineering of Lagos State, especially to bring financial autonomy to Lagos State and eliminate wastage and mismanagement. That was just one aspect of it. My greatest legacy is Governor Babatunde Fashola. I identified and endorsed him. That was when my corporate background, as a recruiter and talent seeker for Deloitte came to play. Part of the training when you go on operational audit is that, the first thing you evaluate are the personnel and the questionnaire given to them and how they answer it. You look at the ability of individuals to really take and develop others. There is nothing unique about any leadership. Everybody can come up with different ideas.
“You can take different routes and arrive at the same answer. No matter how much steel and metal you put together, the greatest achievement and legacy is the ability to develop other leaders who can succeed you, otherwise your legacy will be in shambles. It was a very difficult and challenging period for me. I thank God I stuck to my guns.”
Since 2007 that he left the Lagos House, he has been producing successive governors that have continued with his master plan for the physical and economic development of the commercial and economic nerve centre of Nigeria.
Journey To The Presidency
UNKNOWN to many, Tinubu had set his eyes on the presidency as soon as he completed his tenure as Lagos State governor in 2007, but his political structure was weak to make a go at national politics. His first attempt to strike a deal to have a merger with other political parties to defeat PDP failed. But he remained unfettered until another opportunity came in 2014 when his ACN went into alliance with the CPC, nPDP, ANPP and a section of APGA, led by the then Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha to form APC.
He was said to be the brain behind the blueprint for the formation of the new party to rescue power from the PDP that had boasted to govern the country for 60 years.
To allow the new party to survive and achieve its objective, Tinubu knew he had to step down his presidential ambition to consolidate the new party by putting forward Gen. Muhammad Buhari (rtd), who had contested and failed thrice to win the presidential election under ANPP and CPC.
His attempt to become Buhari’s running mate was rebuffed by members of the nPDP that was very assertive that a Muslim-Muslim ticket would not fly in Nigeria. He was believed to have nominated Prof Yemi Osinbajo to vie with Buhari, but some party sources gave that credit to former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and former Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
However, Tinubu was named the National Leader of the party, even when the APC Constitution recognises the President as the National Leader and Governors as the party leaders in their respective states.
For Tinubu, 2023 is the year to realise his life ambition of becoming the President. He was the first presidential aspirant of the APC to meet Buhari in Aso Rock on January 10, 2022, to inform him of his desire to succeed him in office.
Although many criticised him for kick-starting the race too early about 17 months to the end of Buhari’s administration, and his decision was seen as an avoidable distraction to the President, who was battling security challenges that is ravaging northern states, many aspirants followed his step and within three months, 23 APC leaders signified their intention to contest the primary with him but only 17 purchased the N100m nomination forms and made it to the Eagle Square, where the candidate of the party eventually emerged.
Other aspirants were former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President, Dr Ahmed Lawan, former Chairman of the Nigeria’s Governors Forum and Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, Governor Ben Ayade, Mr Chuckwuemeka Nwajuiba, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Mr Tein Jack Rich and Chief Ikeobasi Mokelu.
Also in the race were Governor David Umahi, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, Governor Yaya Bello and Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, Senator Ken Nnamani, Mrs Uju Kennedy-Ohnenye, Dr Felix Nicholas, former Governor Godswill Akpabio, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Dieji Bankole, Senator Ajayi Borrofice and Governor Muhammad Badaru of Jigawa State.
The battle for the APC ticket was tough because of various interests at war to outsmart one another. There were forces in Aso Rock canvassing for consensus option to force their candidate on the party. Indeed, they tried to hijack the party and propelled the President to name a candidate. This powerful group had earlier succeeded in ensuring that President Buhari named Senator Abdulahi Adamu as the chairman of the party, after pushing out Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni as the chairman of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the party.
In fact, President Buhari had expressed his desire to the APC governors to allow him to choose his predecessor. According to him, the state governors were given the opportunity to pick their successors, asking them to allow him to do the same at the federal level.
Buhari said, “In keeping with the established internal policies of the party and as we approach the Convention in a few days, therefore, I wish to solicit the reciprocity and support of the governors and other stakeholders in picking my successor, who would fly the flag of our party for election into the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023. We gave governors re-election tickets or opportunity to pick their successors; allow me pick my successor.”
But Tinubu rallied critical stakeholders and APC governors to reject the consensus option that will allow the President to single-handedly pick the candidate as he has requested from the governors.
Tinubu went all out for the President and the cabals in Aso Rock who were working against him. He chose the Presidential Lodge in Abeokuta, where he addressed APC delegates ahead of the party’s primary, to send a salvo reminding President Buhari of his role in his emergence as the President.
He said: “If not for me that led the war front, Buhari won’t have emerged. He contested first, second and third times, but lost. He even said on television that he won’t contest again. But I went to his home in Katsina, I told him you would contest and win, but you won’t joke with the matters of the Yorubas.
“Since he has emerged I have not been appointed Minister. I didn’t get nor requested a contract. It is my time. I’m educated; I’m experienced. I have been serving people for a long time, bring me the presidency, it is my turn.” This time, it’s Yoruba turn and in Yorubaland, it’s my tenure. (Emi lokan).”
With his outburst, the battle line was drawn between him and the President. Forces against Tinubu at the presidency upped their conspiracy against him and mounted pressure on Buhari to wield a big stick on Tinubu and go ahead to anoint a candidate for the primary.
Sensing the danger in underestimating Tinubu’s political willpower, Buhari succumbed to the pressure of dropping the consensus option and declined to name any aspirant against his public statement that he had somebody in mind. About 72 hours to the Convention, when Buhari did not anoint any of the aspirants, the national chairman of the party, Adamu named the Senate President, Lawan as the preferred candidate of Aso Rock.
APC governors cried foul while some members of the National Working Committee (NWC) immediately addressed a press conference to denounce Adamu’s statement. The party eventually adopted direct primary as demanded by Tinubu and other stakeholders of the party.
Tinubu trounced other aspirants by a wide margin and polled 1,271 votes. Amaechi came a distant second by getting 316 votes while Vice President Osinbajo came third with 235 votes.
The Last Battle
IF Tinubu found it easy to defeat those who contested the APC primary with him, the general elections proved to be a hard nut to crack. The three-horse race was unprecedented in the election history of Nigeria because of the political strength of the major contestants and the introduction of BVAS, which reduced ballot stuffing and other electoral vices.
PDP’s candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar was not a novice in the game just as the LP’s candidate, Mr Peter Obi was a game changer because of massive support he received from the youths and many Nigerians who are not happy with the achievements of both PDP and APC.
The opposition parties harped on the health challenges and old age of Tinubu, which they argued will incapacitate him from governing the country as expected. They also played up allegations that he was once convicted of drug trafficking in the United States and queried his source of wealth.
Unperturbed by their political jabs, Tinubu exuded unparalleled confidence that he was going to win the election.
Tinubu did not only face challenges from the opposition parties, the unfriendly policies of the administration controlled by his party almost frustrated his ambition of winning the party.
Few months to the election, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) decided to introduce new naira notes, mopped up old notes, and forced Nigerians to adopt electronic transfer even when banks were not ready for the innovation. Banks servers experienced constant breakdowns and there was no cash available for people. Commercial and economic activities were grounded in many cities and states. Many bank customers slept at ATM rooms for days and many families went hungry for days. Indeed, some lives were lost while struggling to withdraw money.
Not only this, petroleum products that had been available since Buhari came to power suddenly disappeared and long queues resurfaced at the filling stations. Pump price of PMS skyrocketed as many gas stations sold it as high as N500 per litre. There was agony in the land. Opposition parties latched on to the deliberate actions of some forces in the APC-controlled government to punish Nigerians and discredit the party for being insensitive to the plight and suffering of Nigerians.
Tinubu also chose Abeokuta to engage the saboteurs in the government and condemned their efforts to incite Nigerians against him and the party.
Specifically, he accused those forces of mopping up naira notes and causing artificial petroleum scarcity to ensure that people did not vote for APC. Indeed, he accused the cabal in Aso Rock of working for Atiku. He told them people were prepared to go hungry and walk long distances to vote for him. With this statement, Tinubu was able to distance himself from the obnoxious policies of the APC-controlled Federal Government and won the sympathy of many Nigerians, who voted for him and became victorious.
Tinubu won the presidential election with 8,794,726 votes to defeat his closest rivals Atiku and Peter Obi who polled 6,984, 520, and 6,101,533 votes, respectively.
THE former Lagos State governor is coming to govern Nigeria when many have lost confidence in the government. Although opinions are divided about the achievements of President Buhari in the last eight years, available statistics even from the Federal Government agencies confirmed the positions of most Nigerians that he performed below expectation.
Between 2015 and 2023, Nigeria’s debt rose from N8.8 trillion to N80 trillion in 2023 while inflation which was at 9.01 per cent when Buhari came in has jumped 22 per cent by now.
Also, pump price rose from N87 in 2015 to 195 in 2023, just as the exchange rate climbed from N198/$ to N740/$ in 2023.
To worsen matters, Nigeria’s unemployment rate in the last quarter of 2015 stood at 10.4 per cent according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is now 40 per cent.
According to the John Hopkins University economist, who analysed 156 countries by calculating their unemployment rates, inflation, prevailing lending rates and GDP growths, Nigeria went from 15th among the most miserable countries in the world’s ranking in 2020 to 11th in 2021. The figures showed that Nigeria was the fourth most miserable country in Africa, only behind Sudan, Zimbabwe and Angola.
Buhari also did not perform better in solving insecurity challenges as some local councils in the North East are still being controlled by Boko Haram, just as bandits, and kidnappers are perpetrating their heinous acts.
On corruption, Transparency International (TI) ranked Nigeria 150 out of 180 countries.
Buhari came into power in 2015 blaming PDP for all the woes bedeviling the country, but Tinubu will not have the opposition to blame. Tinubu is expected to hit the ground running by May 29 by starting to heal the wounds of the people and reconcile Nigerians that elections have divided and begin the process of delivering on his campaign promises.
While it took the outgoing president six months to name his cabinet members, Nigerians are eager to see those who will make the list of his ministers, whether they are appointed on competence and merit or by primordial sentiments to repay party members for their moral and financial support. His first major steps and policies will show the direction of his government, but no honeymoon for Tinubu.
He has achieved his lifetime ambition. In fact, he is also making history as the first Nigerian to become a Senator, Governor and President, but many Nigerians are waiting to see if he will use the golden opportunity to write his name in gold or end up like some of his predecessors. The journey begins tomorrow!