Nigeria Gears Up for the Inauguration of Bola Tinubu, the New President of Africa’s Largest Democracy
Preparations are underway for the highly anticipated inauguration of Bola Tinubu, who is set to assume the presidency of Nigeria on Monday. As the next leader of Africa’s largest democracy, the 71-year-old Tinubu emerged victorious in the February election, promising renewed hope to a nation grappling with formidable economic and security challenges.
Taking the reins from outgoing two-term President Muhammadu Buhari, Tinubu faces a daunting landscape marred by soaring inflation rates, mounting national debt, and an alarming surge in kidnap-for-ransom incidents. However, his path to the presidency has not been without controversy, as his closest rivals have lodged legal challenges, alleging manipulation of the election outcome.
In contrast, President Buhari, who completed his tenure but did not seek re-election, asserted that the results were “credible” and the electoral process was conducted in a “fair and transparent” manner. The swearing-in ceremony in the capital city of Abuja is expected to draw dignitaries from across the continent, underscoring the significance of this momentous event, including the presence of South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Despite the ceremonial pomp and grandeur, Tinubu will face pressing demands for immediate action from the Nigerian populace. Inflation has reached its highest level in nearly 18 years, unemployment affects one in three individuals, and the crucial oil industry is witnessing a decline in production. The new president must swiftly convince those who did not vote for him that he possesses the competence and resolve to tackle these issues head-on.
With his background as a trained accountant and his successful tenure as a two-term governor of Lagos, Tinubu has earned a reputation for revitalizing Nigeria’s commercial hub. He is no stranger to the complexities and intricacies of governance in a vast country with a population exceeding 200 million. Advocates in his camp maintain that Tinubu will approach his presidency with the same technocratic acumen and thoughtful strategies that characterized his tenure in Lagos.
However, critics of the incoming president contend that he may have lost the vigor and dynamism that once propelled him to modernize Lagos forcefully. Concerns have been raised about his health, as he made two international trips following the election, with an extended period of undisclosed medical treatment in London in 2021. Tinubu, though, has dismissed such criticisms, stating that the presidency does not demand the physical fitness of an Olympic athlete. His supporters are quick to draw parallels, pointing out that U.S. President Joe Biden is older, at 80 years of age.
Nevertheless, Tinubu’s hold on power may face challenges if the second and third-place candidates in the presidential election, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, have their way. The election tribunal is scheduled to commence hearings on the main arguments on Tuesday, with the case outcome expected within the next six months. The proceedings will determine the stability and duration of Tinubu’s presidency, adding an element of uncertainty to Nigeria’s political landscape in the near future.