President-Elect Bola Tinubu addresses gathered supporters and the country after receiving his certificate at a ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria. Image Credit: AP

Former Lagos governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu emerged as the winner in Nigeria's presidential election this week - the most closely contested leadership poll there since 1999.

The 70-year-old contender won 36 percent of the vote, beating out Atiku Abubakar, the 76-year-old former vice president on his sixth presidential bid, and Peter Obi, a 61-year-old third-party candidate and political outsider popular among Nigeria's youth.

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Now Tinubu leads Africa's most populous country and largest economy. His supporters say his experience improving infrastructure and civil services in Lagos, the nation's commercial hub, means he is well-equipped to take on Nigeria's spiraling economic and security crises.

Here's what you need to know about Nigeria's new leader, who takes office in May.

Who is Bola Ahmed Tinubu?

Tinubu is a political veteran and member of the ruling All Progressive Congress who served as the governor of Lagos from 1999 to 2007. Because of his political clout, Nigerians dubbed him the "Godfather of Lagos." This election, he ran on the slogan: "It's my turn."

But, in a major blow, his opponent Obi won the majority of the vote in Lagos state. Tinubu is now the first Nigerian president to be elected with 50 percent of the vote, a tribute to Obi's hold over the country's large population of frustrated youth.

Tinubu, on the other hand, won the support of the unpopular outgoing president, Muhammadu Buhari. He served two terms that saw two recessions, a surge in youth unemployment and a general proliferation of violence.

"My track record should speak for me. Look at Lagos: Before I came, we had dead bodies on the road, a chaotic traffic system, robbery daytime and nighttime," Tinubu said this week, distancing himself from the ruling party, Reuters reported. "Come on: clap for me," he said.

In multiethnic Nigeria, major parties typically ensure that both the mostly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south are represented on the ticket. But Tinubu, a southern Muslim from the Yoruba ethnic group, selected a northern Muslim, Kashim Shettima, as his running mate.

Tinubu and his campaign hailed what they said were his accomplishments in Lagos, including in agriculture, security, revenue growth and power infrastructure.

"This is the man who turned Lagos from a dangerous, often scary place where crime was the norm, into a relatively safe and crime-free place it is today. He has the IDEAS. He has the TRACK RECORD," one of Tinubu's Twitter campaign videos proclaims.

Tinubu has also faced allegations of corruption, charges that he deny. Critics have questioned how he accumulated his wealth. They also raised alarms over his health after he fumbled words on the campaign trail.

What issues does Tinubu face?

Nigeria, home to over 200 million people, is rapidly growing and the United Nations projects it will be the third-most populous country by around 2050.

But its economy needs to grow faster, the World Bank said. Despite the nation's vast oil riches, more than 60 percent of Nigerians live in poverty. The country is also dealing with severe inflation, youth unemployment and a crippling cash shortage.

Insecurity remains a concern, even as threats from the Islamist militant group Boko Haram have subsided in recent years. Mass abductions of schoolchildren, kidnappings by gangs, banditry, as well as violence from Islamic State offshoots, are still prevalent.

Nigeria has a very young population, with around 70 percent under the age of 30. But many of the youth are frustrated - the World Bank found in 2021 that 43 percent of Nigerian youth are unemployed and 52 percent want to leave the country.

"Everything is hanging on this election," said Alexandra Maduagwu, 27, who planned to vote for Obi, told The Washington Post leading up to the election. "People are at their limits right now. Their only saving grace is that when the election comes, they know things are going to change. We just don't know if it's for better or for worse."