Soon-to-be President Tinubu, a familiar face for Nigerians having served as Governor of Lagos from 1999 to 2007, was hailed by many as the man responsible for setting the country’s commercial capital on the path of the vibrant business megalopolis and economic hub of West Africa that it is today. A path many expect him to emulate for the country as a whole, now that he has been given the keys to the proverbial palace.
In April 2014, five years into Tinubu’s Lagos Governorship, the Nigerian statistics bureau officially announced what was already widely acknowledged – the recalibration of Nigeria’s GDP to $509.9 billion placed Africa’s most populous country comfortably ahead of South Africa’s $322 billion, solidifying Nigeria’s position as Africa’s largest economy.
Attracting foreign investment to Nigeria is expected to be central to his role as President, having excelled in propelling Lagos’ GDP to an economy competitive with Africa’s top 10 countries, in and of itself.
During his time as Governor, Tinubu had focused on improving the state’s economy, attracting investments, and introducing reforms in the areas of taxation, public transportation, and local government administration.
Considered an astute accountant and strategist, Tinubu had implemented measures to increase internally generated revenue for the state, allowing for the execution of various developmental projects from education to roads and healthcare facilities, an example he promised to multiply across the nation during his campaign, in an effort to transform Nigeria to reach its full potential.
At the beginning of his campaign, the then Presidential candidate referenced “Foreign policy is but a continuation of domestic policy” to the Chatham House audience, signalling his understanding that the first order of service will be to keep his house in order.
Another front on which Mr Tinubu is eagerly awaited is quashing the jihadist terrorism that has been raging for 14 years in the north-east of the country. Tinubu, from Nigeria’s Yoruba-speaking southwest region, born into the Muslim faith, has no small feat ahead of him in terms of security.
During his campaign, Mr Tinubu promised that once elected, he would put an end to the violence by reforming the armed forces to make them “more robust”, by increasing recruitment, training and equipment and by using the full weight of the latest technology.
Under his predecessor Buhari’s presidency, who failed on his promise to restore peace, Nigeria also surpassed India to become the global leader in poverty, with approximately half of its estimated 200 million population living in severe destitution. Additionally, the Nigerian naira experienced a devaluation of 70 percent against the dollar, coinciding with the country’s two recessions.
The elections saw Tinubu win 8.8 million votes against Atiku Abubakar 7mn and Peter Obi 6.1mn. 93 million out of some 215 million Nigerians registered to vote, yet only a quarter of the electorate cast their votes. The apathy is indicative of a country in dire need of hope, which Tinubu promises to renew, a promise on which he ran.
While the President-elect’s track record proved more valuable to Nigerian voters than a fresh face, the close call did not go unnoticed. Tinubu sent a message to the youth in his acceptance speech last week, promising to make Nigeria work better for them. From access to finance to fighting corruption and improving education on all fronts, turning Nigeria around for all Nigerians is going to be a mammoth undertaking. The question remains if Tinubu’s governance approach, developmental initiatives and political prowess will be enough to keep the hope of a renewed Nigeria alive.