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Nigeria’s Tinubu rallies in Lagos powerbase before election

#Nigerias #Tinubu #rallies #Lagos #powerbase #election

Nigeria’s ruling party candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Tuesday took the last lap of his presidential campaign to his Lagos power base, where he received a triumphant welcome at a packed stadium.

Thousands gathered inside the Lagos Teslim Balogun sports complex in the city centre, providing a raucous climax to Tinubu’s nationwide road tour four days before election day.

Tinubu, 70, a former Lagos governor and candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress or APC, is one of three frontrunners in an unprecedented tight race to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.

More than 93 million Nigerians are registered to vote in Saturday’s election, with their country struggling with growing insecurity and a stumbling economy.

Dubbed the “Godfather of Lagos” for the political influence he wields, Tinubu says his two terms from 1999 to 2007 as Lagos governor give him the experience Nigeria needs.

“I will vote for my father. He is really a father for all of us,” said Motunrato Amuda, 29, a caterer wearing a garment in APC’s green, blue and red.  

A crowd of party supporters ferried in buses arrived at the venue in the morning, singing, dancing and waving the party flags as Afrobeats musicians performed. 

Tinubu’s Lagos tenure was credited by many for rapid growth in infrastructure projects, urbanisation and high internally-generated revenues. 

His influence looms large in Lagos state, where he had a hand in choosing his successors and other key appointees since he left office. 

“He’s the man for the job. He’s the only one who can do it,” said Shittu Surajudeen, a 60-year-old businessman.

“He really improved medical, education, infrastructure, security,” he said.

– Three-horse race –

Saturday’s election has emerged into an unprecedented three-way race.

Tinubu’s rivals are 76-year-old ex-vice president Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the Labour Party’s Peter Obi, a 61-year-old former governor of southeast Anambra state.

Between them, the PDP and APC have governed the country and dominated the political scene since the end of military rule in 1999. 

But Obi, also a wealthy businessman, has emerged as a serious challenger, enjoying huge youth appeal with a message of change.

On the campaign trail, Tinubu said he would “renew hope” for Nigerians.

But he also faced questions over his health as well as over corruption scandals from the past, which he denies. 

As a political kingmaker, Tinubu was instrumental in getting Buhari elected in 2015, and he now says “It’s my turn” to be president.

Buhari, a former army commander, is stepping down after the maximum two terms allowed in the constitution.

He came to power in 2015, vowing to roll back jihadists who had unleashed an insurgency in the country’s northeast.

But Nigerians say insecurity is a top concern.

The armed forces are still battling the jihadists, as well as criminal gangs in the northwest and separatists in the southeast.

Inflation is over 20 percent as the country also recovers from the coronavirus pandemic and the economic fallout of the Russia war in Ukraine.

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#Nigerias #Tinubu #rallies #Lagos #powerbase #election

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