If you wanted to pick a bad time to be Nigeria’s president, you could hardly pick a worse year than 2023.
On May 29th, Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State, will be sworn in as President and Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria’s Armed Forces, the crowning achievement of a long political career. The kingmaker has become king. But what he will receive from Muhammadu Buhari is less a crown than a grenade, with the pin pulled out.
Tinubu will step into a renovated Aso Villa and a domestic poly-crisis: Nigeria is in the middle of an economic crisis, a security crisis and a human capital crisis, all of which feed off one another in a vicious cycle, compounded by an increasingly volatile global environment. Untying these successive Gordian knots will need significant courage and capacity.
There are other issues too. In the presidential election, Tinubu’s APC only won in 12 of 36 states with 36% of the overall vote. His dealings are coming under increasing scrutiny. Both of the major opposition parties are challenging his election victory. This is not a popular president-elect, or party, for that matter. After eight years of the APC, most Nigerians think the country is moving in the wrong direction.
Despite these challenges, Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa by population and GDP and is a country of huge potential in terms of human and natural resources. This potential is captured in the waves made by its young people both inside and outside the country.