Tinubu has been declared the winner of Nigeria's presidential elections
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Africa's largest democracy - in fact, Africa's most populous country - has a new president in waiting.
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
Yeah, election officials declared Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling party the winner of Nigeria's presidential elections. It was a close election. It had delays, disorganization and sporadic violence at polling stations. And there are still questions. The opposition parties are demanding a revote and may go to court.
INSKEEP: NPR's Emmanuel Akinwotu joins us from the capital city of Nigeria, Abuja. Welcome.
EMMANUEL AKINWOTU, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: What's it been like there the last few days?
AKINWOTU: You know, today, it's been a mixture of jubilation - his supporters - Bola Ahmed Tinubu's supporters are out in the streets celebrating - and also dismay and sadness with the result. There are protests currently in Abuja and elsewhere. And that's largely because of the polls and what unfolded on Saturday. I was out and going to speak to voters, going to polling stations, and quite frankly, it was a shambles around the country. The electoral commission started late. Polls opened late in many polling stations around Nigeria, some hours late. Some actually haven't had voting now four days later. And there were also - there were so many logistical failures, and there were also incidents of violence that marred the vote in areas like where I was, in Lagos. I saw armed gunmen, masked, come and shoot towards us, steal a presidential ballot box, a frightening scene. And incidents like that happened in pockets of the country, which has led to a lot of frustration and led the opposition to call the elections a sham.
INSKEEP: I want to underline a couple of things that you said because, of course, there are claims of election irregularities in the United States that have proven to have no basis. But you're telling me there were polling places that never opened and that you saw someone steal a box full of ballots. Did you just tell me those two things?
AKINWOTU: Yes, absolutely. You know, on top of that, there have been some irregularities in the electoral commission's platform, some votes that are backed up by the wrong evidence. And so these are some of the issues that the opposition have kind of flagged and have called for the elections to be cancelled. Nonetheless, Bola Ahmed Tinubu is now president of Nigeria.
INSKEEP: Who is he?
AKINWOTU: What a question. He's one of the most prominent, powerful politicians in Nigeria, you know, really a household name. But he's also divisive. He's a former two-term governor, and he's credited by his supporters for building Lagos to what it is, you know, one of the biggest economies in Africa. He's a kingmaker who helped bring President Buhari - outgoing President Buhari to power. This time, his slogan on the campaign trail was (speaking Yoruba). That's Yoruba for it's my turn. And now it is. But he's also derided by critics, actually, for overseeing decrepit infrastructure in Lagos, inequality, alleged control of state finances, of politics. And then, bizarrely, there are so many questions around him about his true age, his health and how he made his money. You know, he said he made millions working for Deloitte as an accountant. Then it turned out to be false. He's also had many allegations, including in the U.S., where he had to forfeit $460,000 to authorities linked to heroin trafficking. So a big, divisive, powerful figure and now the president.
INSKEEP: You said a mystery about his age. How old is he, according to him?
AKINWOTU: (Laughter) He's 70, but, you know, this is something that's being disputed. And he also has had health issues. But they have been quiet about it. He actually went on a treadmill - recorded a video of him riding a bike at home to show that he is fit and hale and hearty.
INSKEEP: NPR's Emmanuel Akinwotu, NPR's correspondent in Abuja, Nigeria, hope you get out and get some exercise so you can keep up with the new president.
AKINWOTU: (Laughter) Thanks, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.