Bola Tinubu like you’ve never known him

Bola Ahmed Tinubu enjoys support from President Buhari ahead of presidential elections
Bola Ahmed Tinubu enjoys support from President Buhari ahead of presidential elections

Although Bola Tinubu, at 70 is not the oldest among the three leading contenders in Nigeria’s presidential race, he appears to be ailing.

This has called in question his fitness level and mental sharpness heading into a demanding job such as Nigeria’s presidency.

A Muslim from southwest Nigeria, Tinubu has been a senator, two-term governor of Lagos and long-professed political kingmaker.

Contesting on the ruling All Progressives Congress party ticket, Tinubu, a southern Muslim, has also chosen a northern Muslim as running mate, a so-called “Muslim-Muslim ticket” that may backfire given the religious diversity expected of a presidential ticket.

Largely viewed as a an unpredictable election given the new factors at play, Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) heads into battle against notables; Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), and Rabi’u Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).

Bola Tinubu
Bola Tinubu

Of the lot, Tinubu and Abubakar have dominated the Nigerian political landscape since the return of democracy in 1999.

Curiously Bola Tinubu together with Abubakar are founding fathers of All Progressives Congress (APC).

Tinubu Has His Work Cut Out For Him

Should Bola Tinubu defy the odds and emerge the victor, he inherits Boko Haram’s 13-year armed campaign in the northeast.

He would also have to tackle growing insecurity as multiple armed groups operate across the country, including secessionists in the southeast and gangs of bandits elsewhere in northwest and central Nigeria.

Nigeria has witnessed two recessions in five years, partly due to poor governance and the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. A new paradigm then must come to play.

Policies must to in play to lift as many as 133 million Nigerians out of poverty. The floundering naira must be shored up against foreign currencies like the US dollar.

Observers reckon just as was done during the Obasanjo years, where Nigeria secured $18bn in debt relief – half of its burden at the time – from the Paris Club in 2005, a new debt relief must be sought to free up finances to undertake developmental projects.

Two-thirds of Nigeria’s revenue is currently going towards repaying its $172bn debt.

Scandals & Allegations Against Bola Tinubu

A controversial figure, Tinubu’s campaign has been beset by corruption allegations including his forfeiture of $460,000 to the US in a 1993 drug trafficking case.

With a population of 25 million, public infrastructure in Lagos is largely in a state of disrepair. A light rail project started during his reign has not been completed almost 20 years later.

He has also been accused of keeping a grip on state finances despite leaving office in 2007.

An insider alleged that Tinubu via a crony who holds stakes for him at an agency that the funds are used for money laundering, fraud, tax evasion and other corrupt practices. All parties eventually settled out of court last June.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu has twice faced Nigeria’s Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), on allegations of breaching the code of public officers during President Jonathan’s time.

In Nigeria’s last election, an armored van used by banks to move money drove into his Ikoyi (Lagos) compound fuelling suspicions of vote-buying.

“If I have money, if I like, I give it to the people free of charge, as long as [it’s] not to buy votes,” he said.

On his ailing health, there are videos of various gaffes at campaign rallies where it can be hard to understand what he’s saying.

Many Nigerians are wary of another president with health issues after President Umaru Yar’Adua died in office in 2010 with incumbent Buhari also spending considerable time getting medical treatment abroad.

Rapturous final rally in Lagos State of the Bola Tinubu campaign
Rapturous final rally in Lagos State of the Bola Tinubu campaign

Bola Tinubu Positives

Bola Tinubu is widely credited with reshaping Nigeria’s commercial hub Lagos. He battled the federal government over his decision to create new local governments in Lagos. The result was President Olusegun Obasanjo withholding the monthly federal allocation that was due to the state.

The Federal Government had hoped the lack of funds would force the Governor to the table but Tinubu proving ever so resourceful was able to raise the state’s internal revenue, which sustained it through that period.

Till it was done, no state in the country was thought capable of surviving without monthly federal allocations. Lagos has since kept increasing its capacity to fund itself.

Tinubu beat the odds again when he won re-election in 2003 as the only governor, out of six, in the south-west region of Nigeria on the ticket of opposition party, Alliance for Democracy.

Tinubu’s payroll-system reforms are credited with removing thousands of ghost workers from the system. He explains he applied principles he learned in the corporate world to the public sector reform effort.

Touting his kingmaking credentials, Bola Tinubu appointed Nigeria’s current vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo, a law academic, as attorney general and commissioner for justice in Lagos State. In 2015, he nominated Osinbajo as vice-president to Buhari.

He has also been instrumental in the emergence of many ministers and special advisers in the Buhari’s cabinet.

Bola Tinubu and President Buhari confer
Bola Tinubu and President Buhari confer

Once forced into exile by military ruler Sani Abacha over activities of the pro-democracy National Democratic Coalition (Nadeco) group, where he was a member, Tinubu reckons it was opposition of groups like Nadeco plus Abacha’s death in 1998 that ushered in Nigeria’s democracy in 1999 of which the time is right to lead.

A trained accountant and a former Mobil oil executive, Mr Tinubu known as “Jagaban” by supporters points to his time as Lagos state governor between 1999 and 2007 where the state grew its income through huge foreign investment, and notorious traffic jams eased with an efficient public transport scheme.

His immense political influence led to the merger of opposition parties in 2013 which eventually wrestled power from the then-ruling PDP in 2015. He is widely believed to be the political kingmaker responsible for the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.

Working Experience

Executive of Mobil Oil Nigeria

Worked at Arthur Andersen and Deloitte, Haskins, & Sells 

Served from 1992 to 1993 as a senator until the end of the Nigerian Third Republic

Governor of the State of Lagos from 1999 to 2007

Educational Journey

St. John’s Primary School, Aroloya, Lagos

Children’s Home School-Ibadan, Nigeria

Richard J. Daley College in Chicago, Illinois

Bachelor’s degree from Chicago State University in Business Administration in 1979 

Bola Tinubu with wife Oluremi Tinubu
Bola Tinubu with wife Oluremi Tinubu

Family, Marriage & Children

Tinubu’s mother is Alhaja Abibat Mogaji (deceased), the powerful leader of the association of market traders. She passed in 2013, aged 96.

Tinubu is married to Oluremi Tinubu, the current senator of the Lagos Central Senatorial District. The pair produced children Oluwaseyi Tinubu, Folashade Tinubu, Jide Tinubu (deceased), Zainab Tinubu, Abibat Tinubu and Olayinka Tinubu.

by michael eli dokosi/

Bola Tinubu with deceased mum Alhaja Abibat Mogaji
Bola Tinubu with deceased mum Alhaja Abibat Mogaji


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