Nigerian Elections 2023

Bola Tinubu has won the vote. What next?

Bola Tinubu has won the vote, but will he also win broader approval in the populace?

Bola Tinubu has been announced as the winner of Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election, by the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), receiving roughly 8.80 million votes (36%).

Though falling short of an absolute majority, this puts Tinubu ahead of the competition, and it is good enough to make him the 16th president of Nigeria, according to the country’s election rules.

The vote took place on 25 February, 2023, with a turnout of roughly 50%—not a significantly high percentage for Nigeria.

Tinubu, as the ruling APC party’s candidate, favors a large government and more-or-less strict market policies. Nevertheless, Tinubu has tried to distance himself from traditional party politics, frequently reminding the nation “I am not the party,” during the run-up to the presidential election.

The competition has been close. Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who is associated with far-right politics, came second with just under 7 million votes (29%).

Peter Obi of the Nigerian labor party, who had presented himself as a crusader against corruption, received only 25.40% of the cast ballots.

Bola Tinubu is not a newcomer to Nigeria’s political scene. He previously served as the governor of Lagos State (1999-2007), and before that was a longtime presence across Nigeria’s private sector, especially in the petroleum industry where he allegedly made his fortune.

Even before that, during the latter years of military dictatorship in Nigeria in the 1990s, Tinubu had worked as a campaigner for democracy, which culminated in his exile.

Having played a role in the fight for democracy, Tinubu became a fixture in post-dictatorship Nigeria. As the governor of Lagos, he is credited with the mega-city’s rapid modernization in the 2000s, though his governorship was not free of criticism and even accusations.

In recent years, Tinubu had turned into a truly influential player behind the scenes, whose patronage counted for much. He began showing a renewed interest to come to the forefront of Nigerian politics in 2022, publishing an 80-page manifesto in October.

Tinubu may have finally achieved his lifelong ambition of leading his country in a democratic way, but he will have no time to wait and celebrate his victory.

The president elect has his work cut out for him!

To begin with, Nigerian opposition parties have already questioned the election’s integrity, citing lack of order and suspicious activities at certain polling stations on the day of the election.

More worryingly, the president elect will soon find himself at the helm of a very complex—and at times dysfunctional—economy.

After struggling with recession and double-digit inflation for some years, Nigerians are hoping for a president who can bring the country’s economy under some control.

Right now, the nation’s economy is grappling with cash shortage on top of everything else.

Certain older banknotes have become obsolete in favor of a new generation of notes, but not enough banknotes of the new denomination have been printed so far to meet the demand for cash—all of this in a country with a large unbanked population where paper money is essential to keep the economy going.

The monetary system is in dire need of digitalization to remedy the cash shortage problem, while improving monetary transparency. The nation’s currency, naira, itself is in need of certain reforms to regain some of its lost value.

These concerns are by no mean new. These issues come up during the run-up to every major election in Nigeria, functioning as the main talking points in debates between the candidates. Limited solid results, however, have been demonstrably accomplished over the years.

At the end of the day, the structural issues which have been ailing the Nigerian economy and political establishment cannot be remedied overnight, and no one expects this from the president elect.

However, the Nigerian people, the country’s private sector, and international observers will follow the situation closely over the next weeks and months to see if the new government is showing a political will to take the necessary steps in the right direction.

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