The ruling party candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been declared President-elect of Nigeria following a contested election.
He was declared winner early Wednesday by the Independent Electoral Commission, NEC that said the 70-year-old got 8.8 million votes-about 36.6% of the total, edging opposition PDP candidate, vice President Atiku Abubakar and the up-and-rising star in Nigerian politics, Labor Party’s Peter Obi.
Nigerian law requires that for a candidate to be declared winner of a presidential poll, that candidate must a majority of the votes and should also record 25% of the vote in more than two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states and the capital, Abuja. Tinubu fulfilled both conditions.
In his acceptance speech, Tinubu said he was “humbled “by the vote.
“This is a shining moment in the life of any man and an affirmation of our democratic existence,” he said. “I represent a promise and with your support, I know that promise will be fulfilled.”
Tinubu takes over a country steeped in corruption, battered by insecurity, and an economy in free fall. He will have to grapple with all these challenges, but he will also face opposition from those dissatisfied with the way he got elected.
Opposition parties are calling for a fresh poll.
In a February 28 statement, former Nigerian leader, Olusegun Obasanjo said INEC officials, at the operational level, had been “compromised “and that in the course of manually transmitting the results, they had “doctored and manipulated” them.
“The Chairman of INEC may claim ignorance, but he cannot fold his hands and do nothing when he knows that election process has been corrupted and most of the results that are brought outside BVAS and Server are not a true reflection of the will of Nigerians who have made their individual choice,” the former President said.
“At this stage, we do not need wittingly or unwittingly to set this country on fire with the greed, irresponsibility, and unpatriotic act of those who allegedly gave money to INEC officials for perversion and those who collected the blood money,” he said.
He called on President Buhari to order a re-run in areas where ballots were transmitted by hand and where there were acts of violence and warned of “a looming danger” if nothing was done.
But it isn’t only Obasanjo who is concerned with the conduct of the elections. The European Union Election Observer Mission (EU EOM) on Monday also slammed INEC as lacking transparency at critical phases of the elections.
“Overall, stakeholders had expressed confidence in INEC’s independence, professionalism, and voter information efforts, but this decreased ahead of elections. INEC lacked efficient planning and transparency during critical stages of the electoral process, while on election day trust in INEC was seen to further reduce due to delayed polling processes and information gaps related to much-anticipated access to results on its Results Viewing Portal (IReV),” said EU EOM Chief Observer, Barry Andrews.
And the Catholic Church’s development wing, CARITAS-Nigeria deployed over 6000 observers in all 36 states and accused INEC of disenfranchising Nigerians through “the malfunctioning of the BIVAS, sheer political thuggery, and daylight disruptions of the voting processes.”
Caritas accused INEC officials, some state officials, and the police of collusion “to massively thumbprint ballot papers unhindered (in Lugbe Abuja, Apapa Lagos, Obior/Akpo Rivers, and in some parts of Katsina, Kano, and Gombe States).
“In some instances, sensitive and non-sensitive materials were burnt by thugs; voters and observers were beaten to stupor in the full glare of security personnel who not only watched these happen but participated in the charade in some Polling Units in Lagos, FCT, Delta, and Rivers States. Additionally, cases of underage voting were noted in most parts of Gombe, Kano, and Katsina States under the handling of trained INEC officials.”
But it was Olusegun Obasanjo’s accusations that the Nigerian government opted to respond to. In a statement Tuesday, the country’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed made available to the Media by his media aide, Segun Adeyemi, described the former President’s outing as self-serving and provocative, and a calculated attempt to undermine the electoral process.
“Though masquerading as an unbiased and concerned elder statesman, former President Obasanjo is, in reality, a known partisan who is bent on thwarting, by subterfuge, the choice of millions of Nigerian voters,” he said.
Mohammed alleged that Obasanjo, in his time, “organized perhaps the worst election since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999, hence he is the least qualified to advise a President whose determined effort to leave a legacy of free, fair, credible and transparent election is well acknowledged within and outside Nigeria.”
“As the whole nation waits with bated breath for the result of last Saturday’s national elections, amid unnecessary tension created by professional complainants and political jesters, what is expected from a self-respecting elder statesman are words and actions that douse tension and serve as a soothing balm,” he said.
“Instead, former President Obasanjo used his unsolicited letter to insinuate, or perhaps wish for, an inconclusive election and a descent into anarchy; used his time to cast aspersions on electoral officials who are unable to defend themselves, while surreptitiously seeking to dress his personal choice in the garb of the people’s choice. This is duplicitous.”
Opposition political parties had already called for the cancellation of what they described as “a sham election.”
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labor Party said results had been manipulated, and they wanted a new election to be organized.
The ruling party’s candidate Bola Tinubu who has so far been leading has said all candidates should allow the electoral process to play out its course, and aggrieved parties should make recourse to the courts.
18 candidates ran for President, but it is the ruling APC party’s Bola Tinubu, the opposition PDP’s Atiku Abubakar, and Peter Obi of the Labor Party who led the pack.