Bola Tinubu, the politician long heralded as the “father of modern Lagos”, has won a tight race to succeed Muhammadu Buhari as the next president of Nigeria.
Tinubu, “having satisfied the requirements of the law, is hereby declared the winner and is returned elected”, Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), announced early on Wednesday.
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Tinubu polled 8.8 million votes to defeat former-associate-turned-foe Atiku Abubakar and surprise frontrunner Peter Obi, who scored 6.9 million and 6.1 million, respectively, to emerge president hours after three opposition parties called for a cancellation of what they called a “sham” of an election.
“This is a serious mandate – I hereby accept it. To serve you… To work with you and make Nigeria great,” Tinubu said as supporters cheered “Jagaban”, a local chieftain title.
“I appeal to my fellow contestants to let us team together. It is the only nation we have. It is one country that we must build together,” he added.
The former two-term governor of Lagos, seen as the most influential political godfather in current Nigerian history, lost his home state of Lagos to Obi but was ultimately successful in his bid to become Nigeria’s fifth president since the return of democracy in 1999.
His rise to fame began in 1992 when he was elected senator in Lagos. When the presidential elections were cancelled a year after by the military government, he joined a coalition of politicians and civil society to call for new elections.
“He has done it before, and we know that he will do better than what he did in Lagos,” said supporter Adenike Mutiat Abubakar, 43. “He’s the man of the people, so that’s why everybody wants him.”
Tinubu’s magnum opus came in 2015 when his Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) merged with Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) to form the All Progressives Congress (APC) that unseated incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan.
Political pundits speculated it was only a matter of time before Tinubu launched an attempt to claim the presidency for himself, resulting in the “Emi lokan” (Yoruba for “it’s my turn”) slogan that came to define his campaign.
Earlier on Tuesday, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP) and African Democratic Congress (CDC) had staged a press conference calling for the cancellation of the election results, saying the poll was a “sham” and merely “vote allocation and not collation”.