Breaking: Team Tinubu, Meet The Incoming Powerbrokers

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Breaking: Team Tinubu, Meet The Incoming Powerbrokers

Breaking: Team Tinubu, Meet The Incoming Powerbrokers
March 13
06:40 2023

It is a common belief in Nigeria that political office holders are nothing but tenants in the corridors of power. This has proven true with every administration, with each president having a close circle of people who wield enormous power and influence, even more than some constitutionally-recognised officials.

So who will be behind the scenes in the Tinubu administration? We profile the top influencers in Team Tinubu, from Bisi Akande to Wale Edun to Gboyega Oyetola :

In the early 1980s, the minister of transportation, Umar Dikko, who was also a brother-in-law to President Shehu Shagari, was the most powerful in that administration such that after Shagari’s government was toppled, the military regime tried to forcefully extradite him to Nigeria.

During the General Sani Abacha regime in the mid 90s his chief security officer, Major Hamza Mustapha, possessed more powers than some serving generals. During former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, his domestic affairs adviser, Andy Uba, was described as the president’s “right-hand man, and also the gatekeeper for people who wished to talk to the president”.

In the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua regime, his wife Turai; Attorney-General Michael Aondoakaa; Chief Security Officer Yusuf Tilde; and a few other officials were part of a powerful cabal that ran the government while he was away on sick leave.

In the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Oil Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke; his wife Patience; and National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki were among the most powerful. As for the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari, his 83-year-old nephew Mamman Daura; Attorney-General Abubakar Malami; Education Minister Adamu Adamu; and his nephew Tunde Sabiu were some of the power brokers.

So who will it be for the Tinubu administration. Here are our picks.

Bisi Akande

Chief Bisi Akande is a former governor of Osun State and a bosom friend to Tinubu who has his ear. Akande and Tinubu are usually described as mind and body within political circles. For over 25 years, they have worked closely together. It was Chief Akande who accompanied Tinubu to see Buhari in Daura during discussions for the creation of a mega party back in 2012.

Akande is one of Tinubu’s major advisers and he has influenced many of Tinubu’s appointments in the past. His unfettered access to the president-elect makes him a power broker.

Pius Akinyelure

Chief Pius Akinyelure was Tinubu’s former boss at Mobil in the 1980s and sat on the panel that interviewed Tinubu for the job. Since leaving Mobil in 1992 to join politics, Tinubu and Akinyelure have retained their relationship as mentor and mentee. Tinubu brought him into politics and ensured that he was elected the southwest vice-chairman of the APC back in 2014.

Sources within Tinubu’s circle tell The Africa Report that Tinubu still solicits his advice and trusts his judgement. His position as mentor to the president-elect makes him a powerful force.

Wale Edun

Olawale Adebayo Edun was the commissioner for finance in Tinubu’s cabinet during the early 2000s. The ex-banker is a trusted ally of Tinubu and was reported to have been recommended by the Lagos godfather to be in Buhari’s cabinet, but the president rescinded the offer both in 2015 and 2019.

The seasoned banker is already regarded as the incoming finance minister and will be expected to carry out some of Tinubu’s reforms, including the removal of petrol subsidy that reportedly gulps $40m daily. Tinubu, who has immense trust in Edun, will be expected to give him extensive powers over the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and a supervisory role over the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Edun could possibly be the most powerful finance minister Nigeria has had in recent history due to his very close relationship with his principal.

Femi Gbajabiamila

Femi Gbajabiamila is the current Speaker of the House of Representatives and a key ally of Tinubu. Gbajabiamila was first elected to the House in 2003 after being encouraged by Tinubu to return to Nigeria from the US where he was based.

Gbajabiamila is seen as a core loyalist of Tinubu and is part of his strategy team. He has, on several occasions, protected Tinubu’s interests at the House, notably in 2011 when he blocked Mulikat Akande from emerging as Speaker and supported Aminu Tambuwal instead.

He also played a defining role in the drafting of the Electoral Act where he introduced a provision that would have made it impossible for the likes of Tinubu to be disqualified or edged out. Gbajabiamila, who is also from Lagos State like Tinubu, will not likely emerge as Speaker again because of the zoning formula. He will be expected to resign as a lawmaker and take up a more sensitive position at the Presidential Villa like chief of staff or minister.

Gboyega Oyetola

Oyetola is the immediate past governor of Osun State, but more importantly, he is a cousin to Tinubu. The former governor was the first director of Alpha Beta Consulting, a firm that has exclusive rights to generate taxes on behalf of the Lagos State Government and has generated billions for itself as commission.

Oyetola is also believed to represent Tinubu’s interests in many firms. Currently, he is in court with the current governor of Osun State, Ademola Adeleke, trying to reclaim his mandate. Should he win, he will remain as governor. However, should he lose, he is also among those shortlisted as chief of staff.

Wale Tinubu

Adewale Tinubu is not just the current CEO of Oando Plc, but also a younger cousin to the president-elect. Although not a politician, he played visible roles in the campaign by lobbying the private sector to support his uncle.

Wale is the son of Tinubu’s late uncle, K.O Tinubu, an influential police officer, lawyer and federal commissioner.

It was also through Wale that Tinubu met Babatunde Fashola who, years later, would become Tinubu’s chief of staff and successor as governor of Lagos.

The Africa Report can confirm that oil firms and power individuals have already begun lobbying Wale for access to the president-elect even as top sources say his number two at Oando Plc, Omamofe Boyo, may be considered for a top appointment in the oil industry.

Kashim Imam

Kashim Imam has been an associate and business partner of Tinubu for about 30 years starting from their days in the Social Democratic Party during the 3rd Republic.

Even when they were in different political parties between 1999 and 2007, they remained close. Imam was appointed chairman of Alpha Beta Consulting, a firm allegedly owned by Tinubu which has exclusive rights to generate taxes on behalf of the Lagos State government.

Adegboyega Fasasi

Fasasi is Tinubu’s chief security detail. It is nearly impossible to see Tinubu without seeing Fasasi in sunglasses and a suit standing behind him. Until early last year, Fasasi was chief security detail to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo before he was deployed to Ekiti and then assigned to Tinubu shortly before the APC presidential primary.

Fasasi is being primed to be the next chief security officer at the presidential villa, which makes him the official gatekeeper, screening who goes in and out. Apart from the first family and a few others, no one will be able to come close to Tinubu without his approval, which gives him enormous powers as politicians will scramble to be in his good books.

Gilbert Chagoury

The Lebanese Nigerian has a close relationship with Tinubu. Chagoury, alongside his brothers, runs the multi-billion dollar Chagoury Group of Companies that owns the luxury Eko Hotel and suites, the Eko Atlantic City, Hitech Construction Company and several others. Chagoury, though not a politician, was a major financier of Tinubu’s campaign.

Chagoury’s construction company handled about 60% of road constructions in Lagos State, based on Tinubu’s influence, according to a report by Thisday newspaper on 20 July 2008. With Tinubu now in charge of all federal infrastructure projects, the Chagourys are well positioned.

Nasir El-Rufai


Nasir El-Rufai is the current governor of Kaduna State who was, until early last year, considered an adversary of Tinubu. However, the role he played in ensuring that the presidential ticket of the APC was zoned to the south as well as his decision to sue President Muhammadu Buhari’s government at the height of the naira scarcity has made him the darling of Tinubu’s camp.

At an event late last year, Tinubu asked El-Rufai to shelve his plan to further his studies abroad and work in his government. El-Rufai is being considered for two key positions – either as the secretary to the federal government where he will supervise over 100 government agencies – or as the minister of the federal capital territory, a position he held in the past.

Other appointments

Kayode Fayemi, the immediate past governor of Ekiti State and an expert in war studies and diplomacy, is being considered for the position of foreign affairs minister or Ambassador to the UN.

The former chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum was drafted into Tinubu’s brain trust after he unexpectedly stepped down for him at the presidential primary of the APC last June. Since then, he has been part of the drafting of Tinubu’s manifesto and engagements with the diplomatic corps.

Babatunde Ogala, a personal lawyer to Tinubu, who was nominated to the position of national legal adviser of the APC by Tinubu back in 2018 and later appointed as the head of the legal directorate of his presidential campaign, is among those considered for the position of attorney-general, one of the most powerful federal appointments. However, he was only recently promoted to the rank of senior advocate and thus may be pushed further down the ladder.

Another key appointment will be Kayode Egbetokun who served as chief security officer to Tinubu while he was governor in the early 2000s. Egbetokun is a seasoned police officer who currently serves as the assistant inspector-general of police in charge of Zone 7, Abuja which makes him among the 20 most senior police officers in the country and thus qualified to be inspector-general of police.

Sources within police circles tell The Africa Report that several senior officers have begun lobbying Egbetokun in a bid to be in his good books as he may soon be appointed as police chief.

Others considered for key positions in Tinubu’s government are: Governor Simon Lalong, who served as Tinubu’s chief campaign director; Babatunde Fashola (the minister of works and housing), who is among those being considered for the position of chief of staff or retaining his current portfolio; and his chief spokesman Dele Alake.

The current junior minister of labour Festus Keyamo; Abdullahi Ganduje (Governor of Kano State); Hadiza Bala-Usman (former managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority); Betta Edu (APC National Women Leader); Ben Ayade (Governor of Cross River); Abike Dabiri (head of Nigeria’s diaspora agency); and Nuhu Ribadu (former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)).

Others considered for appointments are former Speaker Dimeji Bankole; former journalist Bayo Onanuga; activist Hannatu Musawa; Governor Muhammad Badaru of Jigawa State and Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State; Tinubu’s former running mate Ibrahim Masari; banker Kehinde Durosinmi-Etti; and oil magnate Tein Jack-Rich.

-The Africa Report

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