Thousands cheer on ‘godfather of Nigerian politics’

Presidential candidate Bola Tinubu arrived by bus at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos

The presidential candidate for Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has held his final rally in Lagos.

Thousands gathered at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, where the veteran politician – one of the three main candidates in Saturday’s poll – was joined by outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari and other party dignitaries.

Mr Tinubu very much views Lagos as his stronghold: he was governor here from 1999 to 2007, and in many ways helped shape Nigeria’s economic hub into its current form.

Often referred to as “the godfather of Nigerian politics”, he has claimed he was instrumental in securing President Buhari’s two victories at the ballot box.

The Lagos governors who have succeeded him have been his proteges.

His critics say a campaign phrase he has used “emi lo kan”, which means “it’s my turn” in Yoruba, represents the worse aspects of Nigerian politics.

But many people in Lagos believe Mr Tinubu is a savvy political operator who could help turn the country’s fortunes around.

The Nigerian economy has taken a nosedive since the election of President Buhari eight years ago, inflation is at more than 20% and unemployment has quadrupled.

Mr Tinubu, who is one of Nigeria’s richest politicians, says he made his wealth through sound investments and can improve the country’s economic fortunes.

His main rival is Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party. But many young Lagosians, galvanised by anti-police brutality protests in 2020, known as EndSars, say they prefer to back Peter Obi of the lesser-known Labour Party.

The way young Nigerians vote in this elections could be decisive: a record 10 million new people have registered to vote, 40% of whom are under 35.


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