Early life and education
Tinubu was born on March 29, 1952, according to sworn affidavits. His mother, Abibatu Mogaji, was a trader who rose through the ranks to become the Iyaloja of Lagos State. He went to St. John’s Primary School in Lagos and Children’s Home School in Ibadan. Tinubu then moved to the United States in 1975, where he attended Richard J. Daley College and then Chicago State University. He received his Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree in 1979.
Due to conflicting documents and statements from Tinubu himself, disagreements over his age, educational qualifications, and name arose throughout his political career. While there are unsubstantiated rumors that Tinubu was born under a different name to a different family in modern-day Osun State, the main controversy was sparked by discrepancies and falsehoods in Tinubu’s certificates to the Independent National Electoral Commission. Tinubu claimed Tokunbo Afikuyomi accidentally falsified the 1999 submission and the university simply made an error; in response, Tinubu claimed Tokunbo Afikuyomi accidentally falsified the 1999 submission and the university simply made an error.
The controversy was reignited in 2022 when Tinubu’s presidential election documentation was released, revealing that he did not state which primary or secondary school he attended, contradicting previous sworn forms and public statements.
Early career and ties to drug trafficking
Tinubu worked for the American companies Arthur Andersen, Deloitte, Haskins, & Sells, and GTE Services Corporation. After returning to Nigeria in 1983, Bola Tinubu joined Mobil Oil Nigeria, and later became an executive of the company.
Before being investigated by federal authorities, Tinubu was noted for his suspiciously high income; eventually, his assets were frozen in 1993 as a result of a court case asserting that the American government had “probable cause” to believe Tinubu’s American bank accounts held the proceeds of heroin dealing. Later that year, he reached an agreement with the government and forfeited approximately $460,000. Tinubu worked as a bagman for two Chicago heroin dealers in the early 1990s, according to court documents and subsequent reporting on the case.
Tinubu is a firm believer in Islam. His wife is Oluremi Tinubu, the current senator for the Lagos Central senatorial district. His nephew, Adewale Tinubu, is the CEO of Oando. Tinubu’s mother, Abibatu Mogaji, died on June 15, 2014, at the age of 96. On October 31, 2017, his son, Jide Tinubu, suffered a heart attack in London and was later confirmed dead.
Early political career
His political career began in 1992, when he joined the Social Democratic Party as a member of the Peoples Front faction, which was led by Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and included Umaru Yar’Adua, Atiku Abubakar, Baba Gana Kingibe, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila, Magaji Abdullahi, Dapo Sarumi, and Yomi Edu. During Nigeria’s brief Third Republic, he was elected to the Senate, representing the Lagos West constituency.
Following the annulment of the presidential election results on June 12, 1993, Tinubu became a founding member of the pro-democracy National Democratic Coalition, a group that mobilized support for the restoration of democracy and the recognition of Moshood Abiola as the winner of the 12 June election. Following General Sani Abacha’s seizure of power as military head of state in 1994, he went into exile and returned to the country in 1998, following the death of the military dictator, which ushered in the Fourth Nigerian Republic.
Bola Tinubu was a protégé of Alliance for Democracy (AD) leaders Abraham Adesanya and Ayo Adebanjo in the run-up to the 1999 elections. He went on to defeat Funsho Williams and Wahab Dosunmu, a former Minister of Works and Housing, in the AD primaries for the Lagos State governorship elections. He ran for Governor of Lagos State on the AD ticket in January 1999 and was elected governor.
Governor of Lagos State
Tinubu promised 10,000 housing units for the poor when he took office in May 1999, but little was delivered. During his eight-year tenure, he made significant investments in education in the state while also reducing the number of schools in the state by returning many to previously settled former owners. He also started new road construction to meet the needs of the state’s rapidly growing population.
Tinubu was re-elected governor in April 2003, along with a new deputy governor, Femi Pedro. In those elections, the People’s Democratic Party won every other state in the South West. He was embroiled in a battle with the federal government led by Olusegun Obasanjo over whether Lagos State had the authority to establish new Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) to meet the needs of its large population. The federal government seized funds intended for state local councils as a result of the controversy. During the latter part of his presidency, he was constantly at odds with PDP figures such as Adeseye Ogunlewe, a former Lagos State senator who had become minister of works, and Bode George, the PDP’s southwest chairman.
Tinubu’s relationship with deputy governor Femi Pedro became increasingly strained after Pedro declared his intention to run for governor. Pedro ran for governor as the AC candidate in 2007, but withdrew his name on the eve of the party nomination. He switched to the Labour Party while still serving as deputy governor. Tinubu’s tenure as Lagos State Governor ended on May 29, 2007, when his successor, Action Congress’ Babatunde Fashola, took office.
Tinubu’s career has long been marred by allegations of corruption and questions about the truth of his personal history. Tinubu was hauled before the Code of Conduct Bureau in April 2007, after the elections but before Babatunde Fashola took power, for the alleged illegal operation of 16 distinct offshore accounts. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission cleared Tinubu of charges of conspiracy, money laundering, abuse of office, and official corruption in connection with the sale of V-mobile network shares in 2004 in January 2009.
In March 2009, it was claimed that a plot to assassinate Tinubu had been discovered. The Alliance for Democracy has tasked Mike Okiro, the Inspector General of Police, with conducting a thorough investigation. However, in September 2009, it was reported that the British Metropolitan Police were investigating a transaction in which the Lagos State government invested in Econet (now Airtel). Tinubu claimed that the deal was straightforward and beneficial to the state, with no middlemen involved.
Tinubu has also been dubbed the “Godfather of Lagos” for wielding political power in the state to influence regional and national issues. The Lion of Bourdillion, a 2015 documentary film highlighting Tinubu’s political and financial hold on Lagos state, revealed his role in pulling the state’s strings. Tinubu sued the documentary’s producers, AIT, for N150 billion in libel, and the film was canceled on March 6, 2015.
Tinubu worked to persuade former Vice President of Nigeria Atiku Abubakar to become the flagbearer of his party, the Action Congress, in 2006. Atiku, a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) member at the time, had a falling out with his principal at the time, Olusegun Obasanjo, over his ambition to succeed the former as president. Tinubu invited Atiku to join his party, offering him the position of his party’s presidential candidate on the condition that he, Tinubu, be Atiku’s running mate. Atiku turned down the offer and instead chose Ben Obi as his running mate from the South East. And although Atiku still went ahead to contest the election on Tinubu’s platform in the forthcoming elections, the PDP still won in a landslide with Tinubu barking up the wrong tree.
Following the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) landslide victory in the April 2007 elections, Tinubu became involved in negotiations to unite the fragmented opposition parties into a “mega-party” capable of challenging the then-ruling PDP. Tinubu was among several politicians who merged Nigeria’s three largest opposition parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and the new PDP (nPDP), a faction of the then ruling People’s Democratic Party – into the All Progressives Congress in February 2013. (APC).
In 2014, Tinubu backed former military head of state General Muhammadu Buhari, leader of the APC’s CPC faction, who had a large following in Northern Nigeria and had previously run for president as the CPC presidential candidate in 2003, 2007, and 2011. Tinubu initially wanted to be Buhari’s vice presidential candidate, but later endorsed his friend and former Justice Minister, Yemi Osibanjo. Buhari rode the APC to victory in 2015, ending the PDP’s sixteen-year reign and becoming Nigeria’s first incumbent president to lose to an opposition candidate.
In lieu of his long-rumored presidential ambition, Tinubu has gone on to play an important role in the Buhari administration, supporting government policies and maintaining control of the internal party. In 2019, he backed Buhari’s re-election campaign, which defeated PDP candidate Atiku Abubakar. Following an internal party crisis that resulted in the removal of Tinubu ally and party chairman Adams Oshiomole in 2020, it is believed the move was made to scuttle Tinubu’s presidential prospects in 2023.
2023 Presidential Ambition
Tinubu announced his candidacy for President of Nigeria to President Buhari on January 10, 2022. He later won the June 2022 primary election, which featured prominent politicians such as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Rotimi Amaechi, and Rochas Okorocha, among others. Following that, he was elected as the All Progressive Party’s flag bearer in preparation for the 2023 general presidential election.
Tinubu holds both the chieftaincies of the Asiwaju of Lagos and the Jagaban of Borgu kingdom in Niger State, Nigeria.
According to various online sources’ analysis, Tinubu is one of Nigeria’s wealthiest politicians. He is estimated to be worth $32.7 billion. The following are some of his properties that could be attributed to being his sources of income.
- Oriental Hotel
- Falomo Shopping Complex
- First Nation Airline
- Lekki Concession Company
- Apapa Amusement Park
- Maiyegun Land Project
- The Nation Newspaper
- Renaissance Hotel
- Tejuoso Market (Joint ownership)
- Ikeja Shopping Mall
- TV Continental
- Converted Lagos Poly land for TVC
- Owned NNPC Office building in Lagos
- Radio Continental
- Owned School of Nursing building in Lagos
- Tax Collector of Lagos State (owns Alpha Beta, a company Prof. Osinbajo is a
- Oando Oil (Receives over $500 million dollars annually from government petroleum subsidy)