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5 things to know about Bola Tinubu, Nigeria’s President-elect

Nigerians have decided. As per the official results of the Independent Nigeria Electoral Commission (INEC), Bola Tinubu, is the President-elect of Africa’s most populous country and biggest economy.

He got 37 per cent of the votes cast (8.8 million votes), his main rival Atiku Abubakar polled 29 per cent (6.6 million votes) while Labour’s Peter Obi garnered 25 per cent of the votes (6.1 million votes).

The official tally by the electoral body indicates more than 60 per cent of the 90 million registered voters in the country stayed away.

Tinubu, 70, has his hands full. He has to revive the economic fortunes of one of the world’s leading oil producers which have been dogged by insecurity, poverty, and failing infrastructure.

But who is Tinubu?

Growing up and schooling – Born in 1952, Tinubu attended St John’s Primary School, Aroloya, and Children’s Home School in Ibadan. He left for the United States in 1975 where he studied accounting. He studied first at Richard J Daley College in Chicago and then at Chicago State University. He graduated in 1979 and worked for American companies before returning to Nigeria in 1983.

Family background – Tinubu is a Muslim and is married to Oluremi Tinubu, the current senator of the Lagos Central senatorial district. The couple is blessed to have four children. Tinubu’s mother Abibatu Mogaji was a trader but passed on in 2013 aged 96. On October 2017, his son Jide Tinubu had a heart attack while in London and was later confirmed dead.

Political career – His political career began in 1992 when he joined the Social Democratic Party. After dictator Sani Abacha dissolved the Senate in 1993, Tinubu became an activist campaigning for the return of democracy as a part of the National Democratic Coalition movement. Although he was forced into exile in 1994, Tinubu returned after the death of Abacha. In January 1999, he stood for the position of Governor of Lagos State on the Alliance for Democracy (AD) ticket and was elected governor. He won re-election in 2003 but was defeated in 2007.

Corruption scandals – His tenure in office as the governor was marred with corruption scandals. In 2007, the Federal Government brought Tinubu before the Code of Conduct Bureau for trial over the alleged illegal operation of 16 separate foreign accounts.

While he was the governor, Tinubu appropriated the state’s funds in buying shares in Econet (now Airtel). He defended the move saying the transaction was straightforward and profitable to the state with no intermediaries involved.

Additionally, during his time in the United States, Tinubu was noted for his suspiciously high income before being investigated by federal authorities; eventually, his assets were frozen in 1993 as a result of a court case asserting that the American government had “probable cause” to believe Tinubu’s American bank accounts held the proceeds of heroin dealing. He would settle with the government and forfeit about $460,000 later that year.

Last year he was among seven candidates who were eyeing the top seats but claimed that their academic certificates were lost.

It’s my turn – After decades spent behind the scenes, Tinubu launched his campaign for the presidency with the motto: “It’s my turn.” He will become Nigeria’s fifth elected president since 1999, winning the race for the country’s top job on his first attempt.