Bola Tinubu has become the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, obtaining a decisive victory against the antics of Abuja power brokers and the prediction of earnest political analysts.
Mr Tinubu capped his nomination marathon rush with a flurry of endorsements from several notable contenders, including some with whom he had sparred as recently as last week.
His triumph was announced on Wednesday morning at the Eagle Square venue of the convention, scoring 1, 271 votes.
The victory solidifies Mr Tinubu’s reputation as a political giant-slayer who defied all the odds to upstage the so-called cabal of President Muhammadu Buhari’s aides and associates who toiled for months to deprive him of the ticket and coloured flawed estimates of the convention outcome.
His supporters also said he suffered betrayal from his protege Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, whom he had nominated for the position in 2015 as a trade-in for the rejection of a Muslim-Muslim ticket for the then-opposition.
Mr Tinubu, 70, was a career accountant who worked at Deloitte, Mobil and later played a prominent role in pro-democracy movements. In December 1992, he was elected Senator from Lagos West district, serving only one year until November 1993 when Sani Abacha’s seized power in a coup.
He first became Lagos governor in 1999 and was reelected for another four-year term in 2003. He has stayed politically active and controversial ever since.
Mr Tinubu will now face Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party at the presidential election in February 2023. Mr Abubakar emerged as the main opposition candidate on May 29.
Delegates had converged on Abuja starting last week ahead of the primary scheduled for June 6-8.
Mr Tinubu’s emergence followed tumultuous campaign stomps, which saw a streamlining of aspirants from the initial 23 to five hours leading to the vote.
The former Lagos governor beat the likes of Rotimi Amaechi, Kayode Fayemi, David Umahi, and Mr Yemi Osinbajo are said to be on a shortlist of governors.
His victory also comes after President Muhammadu Buhari agreed for the party to have an elective primary after weeks of insisting on a consensus arrangement.
Last week, Mr Tinubu’s aspiration faced uncertainty after an outburst in Abeokuta. Here the former governor named all the politicians who relied on his influence and resources to come into office, including Mr Buhari, Atiku Abubakar and former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Nuhu Ribadu.
This action was condemned by the national chairman Abdullahi Adamu, who described Mr Tinubu’s comments as “irresponsible“.
Mr Tinubu’s campaign officially kicked off in January when he declared for the top spot and left for London on a campaign and consultation trip.
His victory, however, did not come without heavy spending. Peoples Gazette reported how the former Lagos governor gave cash to delegates to induce them into electing him.
Ogun delegates disclosed that they had been paid $25,000 each to influence his approval as the party’s presidential frontman, while Adamawa delegates said they received $10,000 each from Mr Tinubu’s surrogates.
Mr Tinubu’s unsavoury perception as a corrupt politician who has held Lagos captive since 1999 is expected to loom over his campaign. In 2011, he was charged with corruption but discharged on technical grounds.
But several cases have surfaced indicating his corrupt practices. On the eve of the 2019 elections, bullion vehicles were captured entering his residence.
Since 2020, The Gazette has published a series of articles documenting Mr Tinubu’s stealing and laundering of Lagos’ funds in excess of N50 billion, using largely his tax consultancy Alpha Beta. He denied the allegations.
In 1994, the federal authorities in the United States confiscated over $400,000 in proceeds of drug dealing from Mr Tinubu.
His corruption question was largely behind Mr Buhari’s decision not to endorse Mr Tinubu, who had helped the Nigerian president to victory in 2015.
Mr Buhari did not endorse any candidate at the presidential primary, despite initially disclosing his intention to nominate a successor. The decision not to back Mr Tinubu was later blamed on the president’s aides, who unsuccessfully pushed the president to endorse Senate President Ahmad Lawan.
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