Bola Tinubu, political ‘godfather’ of south-west Nigeria

 Bola Tinubu, 70, has been declared the winner of Nigeria’s most competitive election since the end of military rule in 1999.

Widely credited with reshaping Nigeria’s commercial hub, Lagos, Mr Tinubu saw off a divided op­position party and a youth-backed third-party candidate and is set to replace President Muhammadu Buhari in May, unless the opposi­tion claims of manipulation lead to a rerun.

Africa’s most populous country is facing a crumbling economy, widespread insecurity and high in­flation. Many will want Mr Tinubu to hit the ground running when he takes on one of Africa’s most daunting jobs.

Once forced into exile by mili­tary ruler, Sani Abacha, Mr Tinu­bu knows the value of freedom and wears it as an insignia on his signature hat – a broken shackle that looks like a horizontal figure of eight.

A trained accountant, it was the activities of the pro-democracy National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) group, where he was a member that brought him into former president Abacha’s crosshairs.

The opposition of groups like NADECO, and former president Abacha’s death in 1998, ushered in Nigeria’s democracy in 1999 and in many ways, Mr Tinubu, a former Mobil oil executive, feels entitled to Nigeria’s presidency.

Mr Tinubu, known as “Jaga­ban” by supporters, will now be looking at unifying a country that is retreating into regional lines and religious blocs, as the election results show.

But it is not a job that fazes him. He has pointed to his time as Lagos state governor between 1999 and 2007 to sell his candida­cy to Nigerians.

Under his tenure, Lagos mas­sively grew its income through huge foreign investment, while a public transport scheme that saw new lanes created for rapid buses eased the notorious traffic jams faced daily by commuters.

But the city of around 25 mil­lion people has not lived up to its reputation as a megacity despite his claims of turning it around.

Public infrastructure is largely in a state of disrepair – basic ame­nities, such as water and public housing are decrepit, while a light rail project started during his reign has not been completed almost 20 years later despite the riches of the state. He has also been accused of keeping a grip on state finances despite leaving office in 2007.

Every governor that has suc­ceeded him has been a protégé following a “grand roadmap”, while one that dared to find his own path was quickly brought to heel, aided by powerful transport union members. There are also allegations of corruption against Mr Tinubu, which he denies. —BBC

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