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Nigeria: Who’s who in Tinubu’s network: Family, friends, politicians and business allies

By 'Tofe Ayeni, Patrick Smith
Posted on Thursday, 25 March 2021 16:58, updated on Wednesday, 28 April 2021 14:18

Lagos state governor, Bola Tinubu in Abuja February 17, 2015. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Understand the power of Nigeria's best-networked politician: Bola Tinubu has spent a lifetime constructing alliances across regional and party lines. From family, to historical allies, from political enemies to business partners.

As contenders for the 2023 presidential do their best to evade the label of frontrunner, The Africa Report will be delving into the relationships and key personnel behind the contenders.

Who is Bola Tinubu?

The current national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is known by different titles: Asiwaju Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu; the Jagaban of Borgo Kingdom; the Lion of Bourdillon and ‘Governor-General of Lagos’. But one thing is for certain; in Nigeria he is well known.

His persona and political organisation have continued to dominate Lagos since the end of his last term as governor in 2007: it comes down to influence and relationships.

Governors who succeeded Tinubu in Lagos were seen by many as having been trained by him and ‘placed’ in the gubernatorial seat. When one clashed with the Lagos godfather, as was the case with Akinwunmi Ambode, they were removed.

Allegedly born on 29 March 1952, Tinubu hails from Osun State. Although some say one can only vie for election in their state of origin, this is not written in the constitution. Tinubu broke no laws by running for governor of Lagos State.

An accountant by profession, Tinubu’s political career began in 1992 when he was elected to the Senate ahead of the June 12 elections the following year.

All Progressives Congress

Tinubu is now the national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Although the title is honorific, it gives him power and influence within party structures.

The APC was formed as a merger of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP); the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN); the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC – headed by Buhari) and the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGAP).

Tinubu was key in bringing these parties together to oppose the then-ruling party, Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), ahead of the 2015 elections.

The APC is divided with Tinubu and Oshiomhole on one side and Nasir el-Rufai and Rotimi Amaechi on the other.