Tinubu: The kingmaker becomes the king : It is official. Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the President and Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, realising his dream of leading Africa’s most populous country.
Tinubu, who served as the governor of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007, contested the presidential election on the ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC, the same party as his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari that came into power in 2015, ending the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, uninterrupted 16-year rule.
The presidential race was one of the hardest to predict and most tightly fought in years, with three prominent candidates of which Tinubu was among. And with the onslaught on him by his traducers, including the interrogations about his identity, health status, educational qualifications, source of wealth and the forfeiture of $460,000 to the United States government in 1993 over allegations of drug trafficking, and the loss of the support of the Christian community for his choice of Kashim Shettima, a fellow Muslim, as his running mate, among others, to demarket him, Tinubu’s chances in the race appeared to be bleak. But at the end of the day, he won – albeit, a controversial victory.
Considered the ‘kingmaker’ and ‘godfather’ of Nigerian politics, the former Lagos governor had, during a meeting with party delegates in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital ahead of the ruling party’s presidential primary election on the 7th and 8th of June 2022, made known his will and readiness to become the president of Nigeria in 2023 with the famous ‘Emi l’okan’, which loosely translates to ‘It’s my turn’, declaration. ‘Emi l’okan’ was a bold and audacious statement, asserting his suitability for the presidency. It conveyed the fact that since he has been instrumental in helping a lot of people to achieve their political goals, including ex-president Buhari, he expects his gesture to be reciprocated because he is deserving of the presidency by virtue of his qualifications, competence and capacity.
Connected to his ‘Emi l’okan’ declaration was his remark that becoming Nigeria’s fifth elected president since the return to democratic rule in 1999 has been his ‘lifelong dream’. This implies that his ambition since he debuted his political career as a federal lawmaker to represent Lagos West constituency in the Senate in 1992 was to become Nigeria’s president. After decades of political schemings behind the scenes, Tinubu, who extended the political influence he wields in Lagos nationally in 2015 which led to Buhari’s emergence as the president, threw his hat into the 2023 general election as a presidential candidate, declaring unequivocally: ‘It’s my turn.’
Though the remark irked many who interpreted it as a revelation of his deep-rooted sense of entitlement for the topmost office, Tinubu was unbothered. Tinubu, guided by his philosophy of ‘fight for it [power], grab it and run with it’, traversed the length and breadth of the country during the almost five-month campaign period, speaking directly to Nigerians and selling his candidacy and message of ‘Renewed Hope.’
He exhibited great confidence that he would win the election despite the animosity towards his candidacy after overcoming the obstacles to winning the presidential ticket of the APC. As 25 February 2023, drew nearer, and the fuss on the Tinubu-Shettima ticket as well as the seemingly intimidating support for his rival, Peter Obi, the Labour Party flag bearer, by a greater number of Nigerian youths, became more aggressive, many thought the APC candidate was done for.
However, by the time the final result of the election was announced by the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, his cynics were left in shock. With the landslide victory, Tinubu consolidated his titles as the ‘Asiwaju’, a Yoruba honorary title bestowed on him by the late Oba of Lagos, Oba Adeyinka Oyekan II meaning ‘the leader’ and the ‘Jagaban’, a title bestowed on him by the late Emir of Borgu in Niger State, Alhaji Haliru Dantoro Kitoro III, which means ‘the leader of warriors’.
Regardless of how remarkable, or otherwise, Tinubu’s emergence as president is, the fact is that he inherited a fragile nation. Nigeria’s economy is in the doldrums, fueling a fiscal crisis amid widespread insecurity and unrest – the results of the campaign of change run by his party in 2015. To be clear, the APC had promised to tackle corruption, insecurity, and to ameliorate the nation’s depressing economy if voted into power in 2015 but these nightmares only became rife under its leadership.
Evidently, as a brilliant political strategist, Tinubu came to renew the hopes of Nigerians in the nation and the party. Tinubu’s action plan, his well thought-out, comprehensive and realistic solutions to the myriad of problems besetting the country for the country, encapsulated in his manifesto titled: ‘Renewed Hope’, demonstrates that he understands the task ahead of him. However, many Nigerians think otherwise. The foreboding thought is that since the Buhari-led APC government failed, he is also likely to disappoint Nigerians.
Can Tinubu’s ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda salvage the economic woes wrought by the previous administration? Or would he follow the disastrous and horrible precedent set by his predecessor? The nation waits to see if the ‘best person for the job’, as Buhari described his next-in-line, would turn around the fortunes of the country and bring succour to Nigerians.
Ezinwanne writes via email@example.com.