Your Thursday Briefing

The challenges facing Nigeria’s new leader

Bola Tinubu, a former state governor and a powerful political kingmaker in Nigeria, was declared the West African nation’s next president yesterday after a closely fought contest. Tinubu won about 8.8 million votes, according to electoral officials, trailed by the opposition candidates Atiku Abubakar, with about seven million, and Peter Obi, with about 6.1 million.

For many Nigerians, Tinubu’s victory is a daunting prospect. He is a contentious figure who is widely perceived as corrupt, in poor health and a stalwart of the old guard. (He says he is 70, but some Nigerians think he is much older.) Others see him as a capable pair of hands who turned around Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos, when he served as governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007.

A country of immense natural riches, bursting with talent — with big technology, music and film industries — Nigeria is also a nation where over 60 percent of the people live in poverty, millions of children are out of school and kidnapping is a daily risk. The country is also facing a major cash crisis after a poorly managed currency redesign.

Nicknames: Tinubu is often called Jagaban by his supporters. Meaning “big boss” or “boss of bosses,” it captures the power he wields and the deference he is often treated with as a result. Others refer to him as Balablu — a reference to a speech in which he tried and failed to say the word “hullabaloo,” and a form of shorthand to imply that he is inadequate for the job.

Ukrainian reinforcements head for Bakhmut

More Ukrainian troops are being deployed to the devastated eastern city of Bakhmut, the site of the most protracted battle of the war, Ukrainian military officials said. They did not reveal how many were being sent or what their role could be.

The new forces could be used to dig in to try to hold onto the area, exacting the maximum casualties on the Russians, who have already lost thousands of newly mobilized, ill-trained troops. They might be used to tie down Russian forces so they cannot redeploy to other battles. Or they might be there to offer logistical support for Ukraine’s long-rumored withdrawal from Bakhmut, as some experts suspect.

Video recorded in the city shows apocalyptic scenes of buildings reduced to rubble or to charred, hollowed-out shells, with streets marked by the burned-out remains of vehicles but few signs of human life.

Context: Ukrainian soldiers have held out in Bakhmut for months, even as Russian forces have gradually captured surrounding territory, nearly cutting off the city.

In other news from the war:

Finland and Sweden had pledged to enter the NATO “hand in hand.” Now, Finland is poised to join — but Sweden’s application has been held up by Turkey.

A dilemma for unionists in Northern Ireland

A new trade deal for Northern Ireland been praised, or at least accepted, by President Biden, the prime minister of Ireland, Britain’s Labour Party and even hard-line Brexiteers in the Conservative Party. Only one group is holding out: the Democratic Unionist Party, or D.U.P., which represents unionist voters in Northern Ireland who seek to remain part of the U.K.

Their reluctance speaks to the deeper dysfunction of politics in Northern Ireland, which has not had a functioning government since early last year, leading to a pileup of nearly 40 major funding decisions. In theory, the party, which said it needed time to study the fine print of the deal, has no legal power to hold it up. But if it rejects the agreement, it could sabotage efforts to restart Northern Ireland’s government.

The D.U.P. has defined itself by its opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol, a complicated set of rules resulting from Brexit that take account of the North’s status as a part of the U.K., but one that shares a border with the Irish Republic, a member of the E.U. Saying yes to the new agreement, known as the Windsor Framework, would mean accepting a compromise.

The Interpreter: For many Britons, Brexit was really about immigration, not trade. That issue now plays a very different role in British politics than it did in 2016.

Mostly unrelated: British supermarkets are limiting purchases of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. Here’s why.


Around the World

The death toll in a train crash in Greece has risen to at least 38. The prime minister blamed “tragic human error,” the police arrested a station manager, and the transportation minister announced his resignation.

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.

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

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, does not intend to delay May 14 elections in Turkey despite the effects of last month’s earthquake.

Other Big Stories

Foreign adversaries are probably not responsible for “Havana syndrome,” the mysterious ailments among diplomats, U.S. intelligence agencies concluded.

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

David Mabuza, South Africa’s scandal-prone deputy president, has resigned.

Science Times

Health officials in the U.S. have recommended two vaccines against R.S.V. for older adults.

Rats are smart, social animals. Controlling their populations can raise tricky ethical questions.

Who were Europe’s hunter-gatherers? DNA from ancient remains provides some clues.

Here’s what to look out for this month in space and astronomy.

A Morning Read

Twenty years ago, Joseph DeRuvo Jr. took off his shoes because of agonizing bunions. Ever since, he has stayed barefoot for reasons that transcend physical comfort. In that time, he has become a litmus test for people’s willingness to tolerate a stranger’s unconventional lifestyle — or even to try to understand it.

How does he manage snow and ice? And sharp objects? That’s the simple stuff, he said: “Navigating the terrain is easy. Navigating people is tricky.”


The curious case of soccer’s Benjamin Button: Luka Modric, 37, is showing no signs of slowing down at Real Madrid.

Why France’s women’s soccer team is in crisis: The Women’s World Cup starts in July, but what state the French team will be in by then is anyone’s guess.

Analyzing international imports: Europe’s top five leagues are able to attract the best players from around the world, but each league has a specific pattern to recruitment.


The sake boom

For years, proponents of sake have proclaimed that it would be the next big thing in the U.S. alcoholic beverage market. That moment may have finally arrived, writes Eric Asimov, The Times's wine critic: Sake sales are booming around the world (even as sales are declining in Japan).

Here are a few sake basics worth knowing. Read our full guide here.

Types: All sakes designated junmai contain only rice, water, yeast and koji, a mold that converts starch into fermentable sugars. Some other sakes, including ginjo and daiginjo sakes, are made with small amounts of added distilled alcohol, to heighten body and aromatic appeal.

Serving: Small ceramic or glass cups are traditional, but modest wine glasses work well, as do tumblers.

Storage: Before and after opening, sake should be kept cool and out of the light. Refrigerators are fine. Once opened, bottles can last from a few days to a few weeks.

Temperature: Sake is great served cool, but it can also be delicious gently warmed, depending on the season, the mood and the type of sake. You might, for instance, want to try yakitori with warm sake.


What to Cook

Try the dish one reader called “springtime in a pan.”

What to Read

A horror novel set in 1915 California, Eleanor Catton’s first book in a decade and more new books coming this month.

What to Listen to

Take five minutes to fall in love with jazz piano.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: They work around the clock (five letters).

And here are today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha

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

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on abortion pills in the U.S.

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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