Your Thursday Briefing: Nigeria’s New ‘Big Boss’

Victory for a Nigerian political ‘big boss’

Bola Tinubu was declared the winner of Nigeria’s presidential election on Wednesday, extending the governing All Progressives Congress party’s rule in Africa’s largest nation.

Tinubu won about 36 percent of the vote, enough to avoid a runoff. But only 27 percent of voters participated, the lowest turnout in the country’s history.

A political insider who ran on the slogan “It’s my turn,” Tinubu is a divisive figure. Some revere him for turning around the fortunes of Lagos during his eight years as governor; others deride him as a corrupt stalwart of the old guard.

A multimillionaire, Tinubu made his money in real estate, but has faced questions over his wealth. His supporters call him “big boss,” while many detractors call him “balablu,” a reference to a speech in which he failed to pronounce the word “hullabaloo” and a shorthand to imply that he is too old to lead.

The parties representing Tinubu’s two chief rivals, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, have already called for a redo of the election after reports of delays and violence at polling sites. Some Nigerians described being unable to vote despite waiting all day.

Challenges: When Tinubu takes office in May he will need to work on solving electricity shortages, reviving oil production and improving security, including addressing the threats from extremist groups like Boko Haram in the country’s northeast and separatists in the southeast.

Russia routed in tank battle

Ukrainian officials said Russian forces were soundly defeated during the biggest tank battle of the war so far.

During the fighting, which took place over three weeks near the coal mining town of Vuhledar in southeastern Ukraine, the Russians advanced in columns, while the Ukrainians fired from hiding places as Russian vehicles came into sight. It was the same mistake that cost Moscow hundreds of tanks earlier in the war: advancing into ambushes.

The State of the War

In one skirmish, Ukrainian soldiers seeded the fields around a dirt road with land mines and hid anti-tank teams in the tree line around the fields. Once the trap was sprung the Russian tanks couldn’t turn around without detonating the mines, and blown-up vehicles soon delayed them more.

Ukraine’s military said Russia lost at least 130 tanks and armored personnel carriers in the battle, though that figure could not be independently verified.

Context: The Russian military has lionized tank warfare since World War II, and Russian military bloggers have posted screeds blaming generals for the failures of the tank assaults.

Other news from the war:

Ukraine said it had sent reinforcements to the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut.

A Ukrainian drone that landed in a field southeast of Moscow this week was carrying explosives, Russian news media outlets reported.

Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, said the Biden administration saw “zero evidence” that President Vladimir Putin was considering peace talks.

Deadly train crash in Greece

A head-on collision in Greece killed at least 38 people and injured dozens more in the country’s deadliest rail accident in memory. The Greek transport minister announced his resignation.

The high-speed collision between a freight and passenger train was so forceful that two carriages “basically don’t exist anymore,” a regional governor said. The passenger train was carrying about 350 passengers, many of whom were college students, traveling from Athens to the northern city of Thessaloniki.

The cause of the crash remains unclear, but a railway official said that monitoring and warning systems along the track worked only sporadically. The head of the rail workers’ union told Greek television that the two trains raced toward one another for 12 minutes before colliding.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that “tragic human error” had led to the crash, but gave no further details. Police arrested the station manager in Larissa, a city about 20 miles south of the crash site. Greek news media reported that the station manager had directed the freight train onto the same track as the passenger train.

Context: Greece already had the worst record for rail safety in Europe, with maintenance problems going unaddressed for decades.


Asia Pacific

Factory production in China has surged since the end of lockdowns, bolstering the country’s economic recovery.

South Korea’s president called for closer ties with Japan to better counter North Korean nuclear threats, The Associated Press writes.

India’s February was its hottest on record and heat waves could follow in March and April, the BBC reported.

Around the World

A cruise ship has become a shelter for more than 1,000 people displaced by the earthquake in Turkey.

The police in Tel Aviv used water cannons and stun grenades against thousands of protesters opposed to the Israeli government’s plan to limit the judiciary. Also, a Times video investigation shows how an Israeli raid in the West Bank turned deadly.

Eritrean troops massacred hundreds of civilians in Tigray just before the end of Ethiopia’s civil war late last year, according to rights groups, aid workers and news outlets.

Other Big Stories

Many undocumented immigrants are leaving the U.S. after decades.

Eli Lilly, a major U.S. drug manufacturer, announced it would cap the price of insulin at $35 a month.

U.S. intelligence agencies determined that a foreign adversary is “very unlikely” to be responsible for Havana syndrome, the mysterious ailment that spies and diplomats have reported experiencing.

In this month’s space news, a rocket made mostly with 3-D printing could slip the surly bonds of Earth. And China’s Mars rover doesn’t appear to have moved since last September.

A Morning Read

Young adults in the United States are often encouraged to leave the nest as a rite of passage. But the high cost of living, student debt and family obligations keep some at home, helping them save for the future.


India’s digital payment revolution

Tiny QR codes have become ubiquitous across India’s vastness. Roadside barbers, peanut vendors, street performers and beggars all accept money through an instant payment system that connects hundreds of millions of people.

The Unified Payments Interface, an initiative of India’s central bank, dwarfs anything in the West. The value of the billions of instant digital transactions in India last year was far more than in the U.S., Britain, Germany and France.

At the heart of the payment network is a campaign to deliver every citizen a unique identification number, called the Aadhaar. The government says that more than 1.3 billion IDs have been issued, and that the payment system is now used by close to 300 million individuals and 50 million merchants.

“Our digital payments ecosystem has been developed as a free public good,” Narendra Modi, the prime minister, told finance ministers from the Group of 20. Now, India wants to export it as it fashions itself as an incubator of ideas for poorer nations.


What to Cook

Tips from around the world for a great beef stew.

What to Watch

In “The Reluctant Traveler,” Eugene Levy discovers the (mild) joys of leaving his comfort zone.

What to Listen to

Five minutes that will make you love jazz piano.

What to Wear

Intricate enamel pieces from a storied Indian jewelry family keep a dying craft alive.

Now Time to Play

Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Singer Simone (4 letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Mariah and Dan

P.S. Rich Barbieri, a deputy business editor, is heading to Seoul to oversee our business and economic coverage in Asia.

“The Daily” is about abortion pills.

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