After days of stiff competition and a dramatic electoral process, Bola Tinubu emerged as the presidential candidate of Nigeria’s ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Tinubu, 65, began his political journey as an activist in the pro-democracy agitations of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) in the early 1990s. He has remained politically relevant ever since and has risen to the position of a political Godfather.
He garnered new momentum when he announced his intentions to contend for the 2023 presidential election, a position which pundits have described as Tinubu’s retirement plan.
Although the odds were stacked against him, he eventually defeated all the candidates that stood against him in the primaries, including the incumbent Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Senate President Ahmad Lawan.
While about four candidates made a U-turn to step down for him in the 11th hour, Tinubu won by a landslide. He garnered 1,271 votes out of the 2,102 total valid votes cast.
Here is what you should know about Bola Tinubu.
A political strategist
During his second governorship tenure in Lagos in 2003, Tinubu was in a power tussle with General Olusegun Obasanjo, who was Nigeria’s president at the time. This led to the withdrawal of the Local Government fund due to Lagos state. The fund is a monthly allowance given to states by the federal government.
Instead of giving in, Tinubu achieved something no state administration had done for decades – taxes. Since the funds were unjustly withheld, Tinubu began taxing the people of Lagos State. Gradually, the people positively embraced it as there were visible projects.
This initiative became a major income stream for Lagos, being a highly industrialised commercial metropolis with traders from all across the nation.
A self-made multi-millionaire and businessman
Beyond politics, Tinubu is a billionaire business mogul with interests in real estate, oil and gas, media etc. He is the founder of Alpha Beta, a consulting firm that handles the computation, tracking and reconciliation of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in Lagos State.
Although there are allegations that Tinubu uses Alpha Beta and other phoney companies to illegally siphon money from the Lagos state, of which affairs he still controls years after leaving office.
He is a master gamer
In 2011, in a bid to wrestle power from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 general elections, Tinubu drew a master plan that involved joining forces with key parties.
Since politics is a game of numbers, he began rallying people from various zones to support his campaign. Just as business is about opportunities, he also took advantage of the anger in the politicians who were let down by Obasanjo and won them to his side.
According to the Bukar Abba Ibrahim and Sam Agha Egwu in ‘Politics‘, “All the ex-governors of AD that Obasanjo deceived to lose their seats were seething with rage. It was a beehive of furious progressives and angry conservatives dumped by Obasanjo”.
Despite having six states in Nigeria under his control, it was not strong enough to take power from PDP’s Goodluck Jonathan. To address this, he convinced Muhammadu Buhari to join the movement because Buhari could secure 12 million votes from Northern Nigeria.
As a politician, Tinubu knew that if he could secure Buhari’s support, the PDP government could be defeated. Consequently, in 2013, the three largest opposition parties formed a merger, which birthed the APC.
Never giving up
Bola Tinubu’s ambition to become Nigeria’s president has attracted criticism and opposition from many quarters, including within the APC, but he was unflinching and went ahead to lobby support from everywhere possible until he became the party’s flag bearer.
His grit is applaudable despite claims that he is physically unstable to take Nigeria out of the woods. But he insists he’s mentally fit to deliver a new Nigeria that works.
“Being the President of Nigeria doesn’t require strength but intelligence and smartness. A President’s job is not to climb mountains or partake in a wrestling match; it is to think and perform with his brain,” he had said in a recent speech.
His life is a political study
Bola Tinubu is a political icon worthy of being studied by intending politicians in Nigeria. He may not be a perfect leader, but his wealth of experience and proven track record is unmatched.
His political antecedents earned him the title of the ‘Jagaban of Yorubaland’ and the ‘Lion of Bourdillon’, named after his street address in Ikoyi, Lagos.