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No, Nigeria’s president Bola Tinubu is not first African leader to ring Nasdaq closing bell

IN SHORT: Nigerian president Bola Tinubu had the honour of ringing the Nasdaq closing bell in New York City in September 2023. But the claim that he was the first African leader to do so is false and his office has apologised for the error.

On 21 September 2023, Nigeria’s president Bola Tinubu rang the closing bell at the National Association of Securities Dealers Automatic Quotation System (Nasdaq) headquarters in New York City in the US.

The Nasdaq is the world’s second-largest stock exchange after the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

In a press release, the Nigerian presidency referred to the event as a “historic moment” and said Tinubu was the “first African leader” to receive the honour.   

The statement is headlined: “President Tinubu Becomes First Ever African Leader to Ring Closing Bell at NASDAQ; Woos Large Scale Investment at the Nigeria-U.S. Executive Business Roundtable.”

It was released by Ajuri Ngelale, Tinubu’s special adviser on media and publicity

“In honour of President Bola Tinubu’s determined global push to aggressively attract foreign direct investment into Nigeria, the world’s second largest stock exchange, the National Association of Securities Dealers Automatic Quotation System (NASDAQ), on Wednesday in the world’s financial capital, invited President Tinubu to ring the closing bell, making him the first African President to ever receive the honour,” its first paragraph reads. 

Several national newspapers and television stations reported the event as the first for an African leader, here, here and here. The claim was also shared on social media here, here, here, here, here and here.

But is Tinubu really the first African leader to ring the Nasdaq closing bell?


Tanzanian president Kikwete rang the bell in 2011

According to a report on Nasdaq’s website, former Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete rang the closing bell in September 2011, along with “first ladies and health ministers, and global health leaders”. 

The video of the 2011 event can be seen here.

Other Nigerians have rung bells at Nasdaq and NYSE

Tinubu is also not the first Nigerian to ring the Nasdaq bell. Nigerian-born pharmacists Dr Amina Odidi and Dr Isa Odidi rang the opening bell at Nasdaq on 22 October 2010. The couple co-founded Intellipharmaceutics International, a Canadian-based pharmaceutical company.

Former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan rang the closing bell at the NYSE on 23 September 2013 while in office. 

Florence Otedola, popularly known as DJ Cuppy, rang the opening bell at the NYSE on 26 September 2019. Otedola rang the bell along with the Global Citizen team. She is a Global Citizen education ambassador and the daughter of billionaire Femi Otedola.

The presidency recants

A day after the initial press release, the presidency released another statement acknowledging that Tinubu was not the first African leader to ring the bell at Nasdaq. 

We inadvertently referred to President Bola Tinubu as the first African leader to ring the bell at NASDAQ on Wednesday in New York, based on the information provided by a third-party event organiser. We have since found out that this information was/is incorrect as a former African leader has indeed had the privilege. This error is sincerely regretted,” the second statement reads.

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