Nigeria’s Bola Tinubu sworn in as president, facing divided nation and economic woes By Stephanie Busari

Bola Ahmed Tinubu thanks his supporters after he was declared winner in Nigeria’s presidential election, at the Party’s campaign headquarters, in Abuja, Nigeria March 1, 2023.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu thanks his supporters after he was declared winner in Nigeria’s presidential election, at the Party’s campaign headquarters, in Abuja, Nigeria March 1, 2023.

Nigeria’s President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu was sworn into office Monday, against the backdrop of a fractured nation, an ailing economy and spiraling insecurity.
The ceremony took place amid tight security at the 5,000-capacity Eagle Square venue in the capital, Abuja.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Nigeria ruling party speaks during the flag off campaign ahead of the 2023 Presidential election in Jos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Emmanuel Osodi)
Who is Nigeria’s new President-elect Bola Tinubu?
A national public holiday was declared and Nigerians without an invitation told to stay away from the ceremony. Opposition parties had disputed the results, and there were fears of unrest.
In his inaugural speech, Tinubu told Nigerians his swearing-in was a “sublime moment.”
“We have endured hardships that would have made other societies crumble. Yet, we have shouldered the heavy burden to arrive at this sublime moment where the prospect of a better future merges with our improved capacity to create that future,” said Tinubu, who becomes the sixteenth president of Nigeria.
Deep divisions
His inauguration is the culmination of a life-long ambition to rule Nigeria but he faces huge challenges.
He won the elections with just 37 percent of the votes – the lowest of any elected Nigerian president since the handover from military to democratic rule in 1999. And as his inauguration got underway, the hashtag #Tinubunotmypresident started to trend on social media.
Nigeria’s longstanding ethnic and religious divisions became even more polarized during February’s polls amid violence and as critics and election observers raised concerns about irregularities and alleged attempts to disenfranchise voters.
A legal challenge to the result, launched by his political rivals is ongoing. But Tinubu has said he would unite the nation and implored those who did not support him to rally behind his agenda.
“Those who didn’t support me, I ask that you not allow the disappointment of this moment to keep you from realizing the historic national progress we can make by working together,” he said in March.
Polarization between rich and poor
Reviving the fortunes of Africa’s largest economy is a critical challenge that Tinubu must immediately tackle head on, analysts say.
Nigeria has debts of around $103 billion and faces unprecedented levels of inflation, high unemployment and a heavy reliance on dwindling oil revenues, which has led to an exodus of mostly young Nigerians in a brain drain crisis known locally as “japa,” or escape.
“The key to solving most of the major issues in Nigeria today… rest on him being able to kickstart Nigeria’s economy and improve the finances of the Nigerian state. This is needed to reduce Nigeria’s unsustainable debt burden,” said Remi Adekoya, a political analyst and associate lecturer at the UK’s York University.
Adekoya said Tinubu is “very pro-business,” which should attract much-needed foreign direct investment. “Foreign investors would see him as a welcome change from the business-sceptic former President Buhari. This could work in Nigeria’s favor,” he said.
Nigeria also faces a multitude of social problems, including inadequate access to education and healthcare systems, widespread poverty, and gender inequality, according to Rolake Filani-Akinkugbe, an analyst and the chief commercial officer of Mixta Africa. Tinubu must work to build the “political and social capital,” Filani-Akinkugbe said.
“There’s still huge polarization between the ultra rich and super poor. And in some ways successive governments have lost the social contracts of the majority of the population,” she said.
Hopes of millions
Nigeria has been plagued by insurgencies, banditry, and communal conflicts that pose significant threats to the nation. Confronting insecurity remains a paramount challenge for Tinubu’s administration.
Under former President Buhari’s rule, kidnapping for ransom became a large criminal enterprise leaving Nigerians in parts of the country terrified of carrying out everyday activities.
Tinubu is now commander-in-chief of the armed forces, but unlike many previous Nigerian rulers, has no military experience.
He vowed during his inaugural speech to make security “the top priority of our administration because neither prosperity or justice can prevail against insecurity and violence.”
Tinubu also promised to invest more in training and security equipment.
Adekoya said Tinubu is likely to appoint a cabinet quickly, unlike his predecessor who took six months to form his government. “Tinubu is a pragmatist who has shown he can spot talent … and promote them so I do expect him to have a competent cabinet,” Adekoya said.
The hopes and aspirations of millions rest on his shoulders, and the path to progress will be arduous as Nigerians await the transformative leadership that Tinubu and other successive leaders have promised.
Tessy Olabisi Ologun, an unemployed resident of Lagos, told CNN: “I believe there’s a future, if the leaders they can lead us right. Our country is blessed, and I believe he is fitting for the position.”

  • CNN

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