Nigeria has a complex political system that includes various political parties and powerful politicians.
These political parties have produced political technocrats that have manoeuvred the Nigerian political space and grown in their influence over the years. Importantly, these politicians have played key roles in the development of Nigeria and have contributed immensely to the country’s political growth
Among these politicians, one name that stands out is Bola Ahmed Tinubu, popularly known as the Jagaban. We will take a look at 5 other politicians who wield power as much as Jagaban does:
Bola Ahmed Tinubu
Tinubu started his political career when he joined the Social Democratic Party in 1991. A year later, he was elected to the Senate, as a representative of the Lagos West constituency in the Nigerian Third Republic. In 1993, Tinubu who is known to be a firestarter became a founding member of the pro-democracy National Democratic Coalition, a group that mobilized support for the restoration of democracy and recognition of Moshood Abiola as the winner of the 12 June election.
After fiercely advocating for the restoration of democracy, he went into exile when the military head of state, General Sani Abacha seized power in 1994. Tinubu came back stronger in 1998, after the death of Abacha.
The political guru contested in the 1999 Lagos Gubernatorial elections under the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and was elected governor in Nigeria’s fourth republic. He served as a two-time governor of Lagos (1999-2007) and wields a strong political influence over the state to date.
Jagaban is known for his political astuteness and strategic thinking, which has helped him to remain relevant in Nigerian politics for over two decades. He once served as the National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and played a key role in the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Nyesom Wike has been actively involved in Nigerian politics for years. He started by serving as a two-term Executive Chairman of Obio Akpor Local Government Area from 1999 to 2007.
After his involvement in grassroots politics, Wike served as Minister of State for Education in 2011. With the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Wike became the Governor of Rivers State. As a member of the PDP, Wike declared that he will be running for the office of the president of Nigeria in 2022, but was defeated by Atiku Abubakar ahead of the 2023 General election.
Wike has been instrumental in the development of Rivers State. He is known for his no-nonsense approach to governance, which has helped him combat insecurity and other developmental challenges in the state. His administration has also been marked by several developmental initiatives, including the construction of several roads and bridges in the state.
El-Rufai is another powerful politician in Nigeria. Currently serving as the Governor of Kaduna State, El-Rufai boldly went against President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement on the new naira notes.
He began his political career in 1998 when he served as an economic advisor to General Sani Abacha’s successor, General Abdulsalami Abubakar. Serving in this role, made him work with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. He continued his political trajectory when the military handed over to President Olusegun Obasanjo. El-Rufai was appointed as the director of the Bureau of Public Enterprises in 1999. Also, El-Rufai served as secretary of the National Council of Privatisation where he spear-headed the privatisation of several government-owned corporations alongside Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
The Kaduna governor is a strong ally of Nuhu Ribadu, and an ardent loyalist of the All Progressive Congress, APC.
Atiku Abubakar has run unsuccessfully for President of Nigeria six times, in 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019, and 2023. His political journey is one laden with more defeats than wins. He was drawn into political meetings by General Shehu Yar’adua Musa in 1979. Before contesting for the presidency, Atiku made several attempts to become Governor of Adamawa state. These attempts were met with several obstructions. When he finally won the election in 1999, he was appointed as the running mate to the PDP presidential candidate, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
Atiku, who served as Vice President is known for his business acumen, which has helped him to build a vast business empire. He has also been involved in several philanthropic initiatives, including the establishment of the American University of Nigeria. His relentless and subtle approach to politics has sustained his relevance on the country’s political scene.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
Obasanjo is another strong voice in Nigeria’s politics. He is known for his dogged approach to politics and his attempt to change the constitution to his desire for a third term in office. Obasanjo began politicking from his days in the military. He served as the Military Head of State in 1975 and returned power to Shehu Shagari in 1979. Obasanjo who has been a nationalist for years, became president in 1999 as a civilian, under the Peoples Democratic President.
Widely praised as one of the Nation’s greatest leaders Obasanjo pioneered strategic moves including de-politicising the military, privatising various public enterprises to limit the country’s spiralling debt, and keenly supported the formation of the African Union.
Despite his resignation from party politics, his advice is still being sought by political contenders.
Buhari, a slow and steady politician is known for his mantra “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody. He currently sits as the President of Nigeria. As a retired Nigerian Army major general, Buhari served as the country’s military head of state from 31 December 1983 to 27 August 1985.
During his regime, he was known for his authoritative policies. He also has a history of several unsuccessful attempts at the presidency. Buhari contested for presidency on the platform and support of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) in 2003, 2007, and 2011, but was only successful in 2015 under the Peoples Democratic Party.
He made history by defeating the incumbent President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in the 2015 general elections.
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