Tinubu prepares sons to inherit his political legacy 

Nigeria

Published on Thursday 21 March 2024 Back to articles

Seyi and Yinka Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu is positioning his sons to inherit his political legacy as he reaches the pinnacle of his political career as president of Africa’s most populous nation. The 71-year-old will complete his current first term aged around 74. At the end of a second term, if he wins one, he would be 78 and probably too old to remain actively engaged in politics. This is why he is positioning his sons to prepare to take over the mantle of leadership from him considering the strong political empire he has been able to build over the years

He appears to be lining up two of his sons, Seyi Tinubu and Yinka Tinubu, as preferred political heirs. Seyi has been the main face of the dynasty, but the president is also gradually bringing Yinka into the picture, apparently because of the increasing unpopularity of Seyi who is the eldest son.

Both Seyi and Yinka featured prominently on the president’s 2 March trip to Qatar as part of his official delegation. While introducing members of his delegation in Qatar, the two were placed ahead of ministers even though they have no official position.

This drew outrage on social media. Many people saw Tinubu taking family cronyism a bit too far. But the president’s media aides have defended his action by claiming that US presidents do similar things. They hint that Tinubu wants to widen the political and diplomatic networks of his sons to prepare them for future political careers.

It is not the first time that his adult children have been on an official trip. Seyi, who looks to be the anointed heir, has been on nearly all his official visits and participated actively even in the presidential election campaign. According to sources close to the Presidency, he was also involved in the appointment of some key government officials. He is seen as one of the most influential people in his father’s administration and even stood in at Federal Executive Council meetings until President Tinubu was forced to ban him because the optics of his appearance were no longer looking good because of his lack of any official cabinet post.

He remains actively involved in governance matters in an unofficial capacity. He has courted controversy by flying the presidential jet to an unofficial event in Kano State.

Seyi is already tipped as the next governor of Lagos State after the tenure of Babajide Sanwo-Olu ends in 2027. Like his father he is nominally a Muslim, aligning with the political calculations that the next governor of the state should be a Muslim, succeeding the current Christian. The state’s political structures are still firmly in Tinubu’s hands so no one is likely to stand against him. The view that Seyi is his father’s heir apparent is accepted among those loyal to the Tinubu political hegemony in the state.

President Tinubu became powerful politically because he used the resources of Lagos State to strengthen his ambitions. Seyi needs to take the same path. The biggest risk to the dynasty would be the state falling into the hands of an opposition party or being governed by someone who is disloyal. That would undo a lot of the political structures that Tinubu has put together.

There are concerns, however, over whether Seyi can sustain political structures that he did not personally build. He has not contested or won any elections yet. There are doubts if he is interested in politics or is only getting involved because of his father. If he were interested, the expectation is that he would have at least started by contesting a local government election and then possibly a state assembly election. That would have positioned and prepared him for higher political office.

Meanwhile Yinka Tinubu is largely unknown and there are doubts if he is interested in politics at all or just trying to do his father’s bidding.

The expectation is that President Tinubu would want to remain politically relevant long after he leaves office as president, and he appears to be banking on his sons to extend that political relevance. That strategy is likely to receive a lot of resistance from the political class. Nigeria is used to having business dynasties but not yet political ones.

This excerpt is taken from Nigeria Focus, our monthly intelligence report on Nigeria. Click here to receive a free sample copy.

The March 2024 issue of Nigeria Focus also includes the following:

Spotlight

  • Army denies rumours of planned coup against Tinubu administration
  • Implications

Politics & Society

  • Tinubu prepares sons to inherit political legacy
  • Profile: Tony Elumelu emerges as Nigeria’s most powerful entrepreneur
  • Did the government deliberately bungle a case against an ex-governor?
  • Reprieve for troubled Labour Party

Economy & Finance

  • Food crisis fuels risk of social unrest
  • Numbers
  • Tough times for firms unlikely to end soon

Energy

  • Dangote Refinery set to miss March petrol production target
  • Tinubu no longer eager for oil majors to divest
  • Another decline in oil production dampens hopes of progress

Security

  • The mysterious killing of 17 soldiers in Delta State

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