Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu:
Biography and Accomplishments

The name Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) is a name every Nigerian is familiar with. It is a name that signifies boldness, excellent leadership skills, and no two persons in the country are officially recognized as the Jagaban except Bola Tinubu- a Nigerian politician and the Asiwaju of Lagos. The title, which describes “someone who lead while others follow,” was attached to the Tinubu’s name in the Niger State of Nigeria. He is the Jagaban of the Borgu Kingdom.

The 69-year-old politician is a well-known master strategist who has shaped Nigerian politics through his dominant position in the political affairs of the country’s commercial capital, Lagos, for over decades. He is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Whether you love Tinubu or despise his brand of politics, that name is key in discussing politics in Nigeria. Here is everything you need to know about the former two-time governor of Lagos State.

Bola Tinubu Profile Summary
  • Name in Full: Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu
  • Also Known As: The Asiwaju, The Jagaban
  • Date of Birth: March 29, 1952
  • Age: 69 years old
Educational Qualification:
  • Accounting Honors
  • Profession: Accountant, Politician
  • Spouse: Oluremi Tinubu

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was born in Lagos, Nigeria to the illustrious Tinubu Family. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s late mother, Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji, was a famous Nigerian business magnate who became the Ìyál’ọ́jà of the Association of Nigerian Market Women and Men.

He attended St. John’s Primary School, Aroloya, Lagos and Children’s Home School in Ibadan, South West of Nigeria. He attended Richard Daley College, Chicago Illinois, where he earned a place in the honors list of the College.

He subsequently proceeded to Chicago State University, Illinois where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Accounting and Management). At Chicago State, he won the Outstanding Student’s Award, The University Scholar’s Award and the Certificate of Merit in Accounting and Finance.

His brother, late Alhaji Rafiu Tinubu, in an interview, noted that the Asiwaju exhibited characteristics of greatness right from his childhood. He would always want to lend helping hands to people regardless of who they were and where they came from. Apparently, he was someone people happily chose to rely on. This trait has helped him become the man he is today.

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is happily married to Oluremi Tinubu, the current Senator representing Lagos central, who is a foremost advocate for social welfare and rights as well as a respected educator, administrator, philanthropist and Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON). Their union is blessed with children and grandchildren.

Career and Life

On his arrival in the U.S. in 1975 and with the support of an ever-encouraging mother, this courageous youth, motivated by an unflinching zeal to succeed, did not mind taking on menial jobs such as dishwashing, night-guard and cab-driving to help pay his way through school.

The brilliance of this young Nigerian showed in his ability to make the honours’ list of Richard Daley College and to ultimately graduate with honours from Chicago State University in 1979, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration (Accounting and Management). During his first year at Chicago State, young Bola was given the rare honor to help tutor other students of his Faculty in remedial classes. Many of his colleagues at the university attributed their improved grades to his tutorial assistance.

Throughout his undergraduate years, Bola was on the Dean’s List and was honoured with the Outstanding Student’s Award, the University Scholar’s Award and the Certificate of Merit in Accounting and Finance. He graduated Summa Cum Laude for scoring 3.54 out of possible 4.0 GP.

 
 

As a harbinger of greater things to come, Bola contested and won his first election as the President of the Accounting Society of the institution in his final year at the University.

Upon graduation, Bola Tinubu was recruited and hired by the renowned accounting firm Arthur Anderson, Deloitte Haskins and Sells (now called Deloitte Haskins and Touche) and GTE Service Corporation – the largest Communication and Utility Company in the United States of America.

At Deloitte Haskins and Sells, the young and professional Bola broadened his experience by participating in the auditing and management consultancy services of General Motors, First National Bank of Chicago, Procter and Gamble, International Harvester, General Electric and other Fortune 500 firms. Recognizing his talent, Deloitte often appointed Bola, though a relatively recent hire, as the lead member of several important auditing teams.

BAT's Political Journey

On his return to Nigeria and with his international experience in Financial Management, young Bola joined Mobil Producing Nigeria as a Senior Auditor before he retired as the company’s Treasurer.

As pragmatic, charitable, grassroots’ person, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu saw communal service as a veritable tool for social development. He never hesitated to serve his community spearheading several financial contributions and fund-raising for community development programmes in Lagos State. He leads Primrose Group, a political action organization pushing for fundamental changes in the politics of Lagos State.

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu opted fully for public service in exchange for his lucrative job at Mobil. His first foray into active politics was as a founding member of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP). In 1992, he was elected as an Honourable Senator of the Federal Republic Nigeria to represent Lagos West Senatorial District. At the National Assembly, he distinguished himself as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Finance, Appropriation and Currency – a foremost committee of the Senate.

With the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Nigerian Presidential Election and the consequent fresh militarization of the Nigerian politics, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu became a founding member of the famous pro-democracy group, the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) which, for several years, engaged the military for the very soul of Nigeria.

His political career began in 1992, when he was elected to the Nigerian Senate representing the Lagos West constituency in the short-lived Nigerian Third Republic. After the results of the 12 June 1993 presidential elections were annulled, Tinubu became a founding member of the pro-democracy National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), which mobilized support for the restoration of democracy and recognition of the 12 June results. He went into exile in 1994 and returned to the country in 1998 after the death of military dictator Sani Abacha, which ushered in a transition to civilian rule.

Subsequently, Bola Tinubu suffered many arrests and detention, harassment and constant threats to his life forcing him to flee Nigeria for his personal safety. He, however, did not give up the struggle as he joined NADECO abroad to continue the agitation for a restoration of democratic governance and the rule in the country.

In 1998, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu returned to Nigeria to heed a call for all Nigerians to join in the National Reconciliation and Development. A year later, he began his two-term public service as an elected Executive Governor of Lagos State on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD).

In the run-up to the 1999 elections, Bola Tinubu was a protégé of Alliance for Democracy (AD) leaders Abraham Adesanya and Ayo Adebanjo. He won the AD primaries for the Lagos State gubernatorial elections in competition with Funsho Williams and Wahab Dosunmu, a former Minister of Works and Housing. In April 1999, he stood for the position of Executive Governor of Lagos State on the AD ticket and was elected.

For his excellent performance as the Executive Governor of Lagos State of Nigeria (1999 – 2007), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu received several awards. These include Best Governor in Nigeria for Y2000 by the Nigerian-Belgian Chamber of Commerce; Y2002 Best Practices Prize in improving the living environment, awarded by the Federal Ministry of Works and the UN Habitat Group; Y2000 Best Computerized Government in Nigeria Award by the Computer Association of Nigeria. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was conferred with the Honorary Doctor of Law Degree by the Abia State University in recognition of his immense contribution to democracy, good governance and development of Nigeria. He is the proud recipient of numerous other chieftaincy titles and a patron of many professional and social organizations.

As an astute political strategist, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu survived the massive incursion of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the South Western States of Nigeria as the lone re-elected Governor of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). This led him on a regular collision course with the PDP-controlled Federal Government, especially on his creation of additional 37 Local Council Development Areas for Lagos States. A Supreme Court judgment in his favour stated that the Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo’s Federal Government should release the seized statutory allocation of the Lagos State Local Government funds.

He invested largely in education in the State and returned many schools to their former owners; Initiated new road construction

needed to meet the needs of the fast-growing population of the State, and tussled with the Federal government over whether Lagos State had the right to create new Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) to meet the needs of its large population. The controversy led to the Federal government seizing funds meant for local councils in the State. Despite all odds, he was able to create a total of 37 LCDAs.

BAT’s tenure as Lagos State Governor ended on May 29, 2007, when Babatunde Fashola of the Action Congress took office. After leaving office as governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu was brought before the Code of Conduct Tribunal for trial over the alleged illegal operation of 16 separate foreign accounts. Two years later, he and Governors James Ibori of Delta State and Obong Victor Attah of Akwa Ibom State were cleared of charges by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Summary of BAT’s Political Career/Offices Held:

1992

Vied for Public Office

Wins Election as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria representing the Lagos West constituency.

1993

NADECO

Founded National Democratic Coalition (NADECO)

1999- 2003

Vied for Public Office

He became the second Executive Governor of Lagos State

2003-2007

2nd Term

Began and Completed his second tenure as Lagos state governor

2015 - Date

APC National Leader

Appointed National Leader of APC

A Look At BAT’s Relevance in the APC

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is currently the National Leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC) – a party that was formed in 2013 as a result of a merger of Nigeria’s three biggest oppositions parties. Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), a faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and the new PDP – a faction of the then ruling party, the Peoples Progressive Party (PDP). 
 
The primary goal of the APC was to build a stronger party that would bring an end to the sixteen-year dominance of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) during the 2015 general election. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was at the forefront of the formation of the party.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
BAT’s dream of bringing an end to the sixteen-year rule of the PDP  came through as President Buhari rode the APC to victory,  marking the first time in the history of Nigeria that an incumbent president lost to an opposition candidate. Through his campaign effort, the APC defeated the PDP a second time in the 2019 general election. The ‘Jagaban,’  Bola Tinubu is rated as one of the most influential politicians in Africa in the 21st century. His firm and resolute style of politics has helped him attain several accomplishments.

One of his most outstanding achievements would be the number of politicians who served under his tutelage. BAT’s initial target was to run as President  Buhari’s vice-presidential candidate but later conceded for his ally and former commissioner of justice, Yemi Osibanjo.
He was most instrumental to the success of  President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 presidential elections.

They include Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the vice president of Nigeria; Babatunde Raji Fashola, Minister of Power, Works, and Housing and one-time governor of Lagos State; Rauf Aregbesola, Osun State governor, among others. Little wonder he is believed to have surpassed Chief Awolowo’s political record. The former gave life to the Yoruba race through his free education program. However, the latter is considered to have achieved greater success as the first Yoruba politician, whose party, while in the opposition, defeated a ruling party in a presidential election, thereby controlling the central government.

BAT’s Major Political Accomplishments

  • Revamped the civil and criminal procedure rule and created the Citizens Mediation Centre, a well-staffed and independent Office of the Public Defender, offering legal services for the poor.
  • Instituted a reform plan that helped to improve the welfare of judicial officers, including magistrates
  • Upgraded facilities at the Lagos State Teaching Hospital (LASUTH)
  • Provided free healthcare services, including free ante-natal care for women, free eye treatments, and glasses for the visually impaired, popularly called ‘JIGI BOLA.’
  • Established the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA)
  • Created 37 Local Council Development Areas
  • Established Five additional general hospitals in Lagos state
  • Pioneered the Bus Rapid Transit System and LAGBUS
  • Spear-headed the political merger that produced the APC

Besides Politics, BAT Has Made Many Personal Accomplishments

Aside from his political career, Bola Tinubu has made some personal accomplishments that would keep his family legacy for years.
 
BAT’s Awards And Recognitions
  • Thinkers Magazine Man of the Year Award – 2015
  • Silverbird Man of the Year Award – 2015
  • Pillar of Culture in Africa at the AFRIMA Awards – 2015
  • Champion of Democracy Award at the Global Village Extra Seminar and Awards Night, United States of America – 2016
  • Grand Commander Worthy Leader of the Order of Niger (GCWLON) by the Osun Concerned Women Forum (GCWF) – 2018

Why Is BAT Called Asiwaju or Jagaban of Lagos?

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu holds several chieftaincy titles conferred on him by people who deem him deserving because of the role he plays in their affairs. Of all the titles conferred on him, he is mainly referred to as Asiwaju or Jagaban.
The name “Asiwaju” is a Yoruba appellation that carries the burden of Yoruba ethical principles. It means “the one who leads.” The title was conferred on him following his role in the development of Lagos State since his time in office as a governor. Hence, he is called the Asiwaju of Lagos State.
The title Jagaban appears to have the same meaning as Asiwaju. It was conferred on Tinubu by the Emir of Borgu in Niger State, Hrh Alh. (Senator) Haliru Dantoro Kitoro III, on
February 26, 2006. The emir turbanned him and his wife, Senator Remi Tinubu, while announcing the Jagaban of Borgu and Yun Bana Jagaban of Borgu.
In an excerpted speech, the emir revealed that the title given to the Asiwaju was his way of recognizing and appreciating the support he gave him (the emir) during his legal sojourn in the Emirship tussle with the Nigerian government. While the title’s meaning in many contexts can be defined as the ‘Boss of Bosses,’  the emir said in his kingdom, it means ‘Leader of Warriors.’ It can also mean someone in charge, powerful, and influences the streets, an area, or industry.