Bola Ahmed Tinub, 71, was inaugurated as the 16th president of Nigeria on Monday, marking the fifth presidential transition since the end of military rule in 1999. Despite only winning 37% of the national vote, Tinub was able to secure the presidency due to low voter turnout, as technical issues and logistical problems deterred many of the 93 million registered voters from casting their ballots. The country Tinub inherits is marked by economic turmoil, including record debt, high inflation, a declining currency, and a shortage of foreign exchange and fuel. The Naira, Nigeria’s official currency, has also depreciated significantly, while oil production has declined. Tinub has pledged to address these challenges by promoting economic growth, harmonizing foreign exchange rates, and eliminating costly fuel subsidies.
Tinub’s predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, whose economic record has been widely criticized, leaves behind rising unemployment and poverty. Judges are also examining legal challenges presented by opposition leaders Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi of the People’s Democratic Party. One of the most pressing issues Tinub faces is how to inject stability and hope into a crisis-hit society and economy that is highly polarized around religious and ethnic differences. Nigeria has one of the youngest populations in the world, with 42% of its citizens under the age of 15 and 220 million people projected to reach 400 million by 2050.
As the former governor of Lagos state from 1999 to 2007, Tinub was credited with modernizing the state’s economy. However, the business community has expressed concerns about the protectionist economic policies Buhari introduced that have deterred foreign investment. Tinub will need to deliver on his economic promises by executing bold campaign promises and appointing “talented people” with the necessary experience to regain voters’ trust.
One of the key issues of concern for many Nigerians is police brutality, which has sparked protests across the country. Tinub will need to address widespread violence, including clashes between cattlemen and farmers in the central “belt” of the country. Nigeria’s national security apparatus has a history of human rights abuses and requires extensive structural reforms, training programs, and modern equipment to address the drivers of violence, such as poverty, youth unemployment, and a lack of state presence. Tinub will also need to promote an inclusive national identity to address the grievances felt by many Nigerians, especially urban youth and minorities.