By now, Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s “Èmi Lọ Kàn” (Yoruba for “It is my turn”) phrase has entered the Nigerian political lexicon.

Some view the phrase as the stunning entitlement of one of the biggest beneficiaries of Nigeria’s democracy. By others, it is also seen as the battle cry of a man who has been at the top of Nigerian politics for over 20 years and now feels his time has come to dominate.

Key takeaways:

  1. Nigeria’s 4th Republic is a story of the rise and decline of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the rise of the opposition coalition, which eventually took power from them. 

  2. Amendments to the Electoral Act are set to make the 2023 elections more transparent and competitive than ever.

  3. Voter turnout in the 2023 elections will determine if the country is about to enter a new phase of democracy or if the current duopoly will continue.


Those who believe it is the turn of the former Lagos governor point to his role in uniting the opposition. They say he was the driving force behind the coalition, which forced the PDP from power in 2015. In some ways, Tinubu’s journey from opposition to front-runner in the presidential elections is a microcosm of a wider democratic evolution which has taken six election cycles.

As we look ahead to the 2023 elections, it is useful to look back at where we are coming from and identify some key events in Nigeria’s recent political history to determine how we arrived here. Using the historical data compiled by Stears, we will examine how Nigeria’s fourth attempt at democracy has evolved, going from one big party to two main parties.

Let us begin from the middle. Is 2008 the middle?