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Nigeria elects new president amid hope for solutions to violence

Nigerian president-elect Bola Tinubu

Kola SULAIMON | AFP

John Burger - published on 03/01/23

Bola Tinubu has degree from Chicago university; governed Nigeria's largest city. Bishop sees "palpable tension in the air" as results are questioned.

An alumnus of Chicago State University has been elected the president of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, and also the home of the world’s greatest number of victims of Christian persecution.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday declared Bola Tinubu, the candidate of the governing All Progressives Congress party, as winner of the presidential elections, which were held Saturday. Tinubu, 70, will take office in May, succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari. 

Both of the two main opposition parties have said they will challenge the results of the election in court, calling them fraudulent. 

Born into a Muslim family in Lagos in 1952, Bola Tinubu came to the US in the 1970s and worked as a dishwasher, taxi driver, and security guard to fund his studies. He earned a degree in business administration from Chicago State in 1979. 

According to Reuters, he then worked for US consultancy firms until returning to Nigeria to work for Mobil.

Tinubu got involved in politics in the 1990s and was elected governor of Lagos when military rule ended in 1999. Tinubu was credited with reducing violent crime and tackling other problems in Africa’s biggest city.

Past record

But he also has a somewhat shady past. According to the Wall Street Journal, Tinubu forfeited $460,000 in the early 1990s after federal authorities in the U.S. alleged that bank accounts in his name held proceeds from possible drug trafficking. But his campaign spokesman has said that he was never charged with or convicted of a crime.

As president, Tinubu will have to tackle problems such as violence against Christians and high crime, including a rash of kidnappings. 

Several parties have expressed concerns about the election process, including the Nigerian Bishops’ Conference, which said that in many polling stations, “the human element compromised the expected benefits of new technologies used in voting.”

“In addition, the delay in the electronic transmission of the results of the voting units to the [Independent Electoral Commission] results viewing portal before their announcement in the voting centers has raised suspicions among many people about the transparency of the entire process,” said Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji of Owerri, President of the Bishops’ Conference. “Therefore, there is a palpable tension in the air and unrest not only from some political parties, but also in a significant part of the Nigerian population.”

One concern the bishops and others had in the run-up to the election was the lack of Christian representation on major tickets. Tinubu’s running mate, Kashim Shettima, is also Muslim. 

“Nigeria’s Christian population is almost as big as its Muslim one, and traditionally presidential candidates pick running mates of a different religion,” the New York Times noted. Not this time.

Tags:
AfricaNigeriaPersecution of Christians
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