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Nigeria ruling party candidate Tinubu wins most votes in disputed election

All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Bola Tinubu (C-L) campaigned on his record as Lagos governor
All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Bola Tinubu (C-L) campaigned on his record as Lagos governor - Copyright POOL/AFP Liam McBurney
All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Bola Tinubu (C-L) campaigned on his record as Lagos governor - Copyright POOL/AFP Liam McBurney

Ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu has won the most votes in Nigeria’s highly disputed weekend election, according to final results on Wednesday, almost certainly securing him the presidency of Africa’s most populous democracy.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, or INEC, must still confirm whether Tinubu secured 25 percent of votes in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states and capital, a threshold he must hit to be confirmed president.

Tinubu, the candidate for All Progressives Congress (APC) party, won 8.8 million votes against 6.9 million for opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar and 6.1 million for Labour Party’s Peter Obi, according to INEC results.

INEC was expected to give a final result for the two-thirds rule later on Wednesday.

With President Muhammadu Buhari stepping down, many Nigerians hoped Saturday’s vote would open the way to a leader able to tackle insecurity, ease economic malaise and manage poverty in their West African state.

The voting was mostly peaceful, but was troubled by long delays at many polling stations, while technical hitches disrupted the uploading of results to a central website, fuelling concerns over vote rigging.

PDP and Labour parties have already called for the vote to be scrapped, and have demanded a fresh election because of what they claimed was massive manipulation of ballot counts.

“Contrary to the insinuation by both parties, results emanating from the States point to a free, fair and credible process,” the INEC said in response.

It said parties should allow the process to run its course and then take their claims to court. 

– ‘It’s my turn’ –

Tinubu, 70, a long-time political kingmaker who ran on his experience as Lagos governor from 1999 to 2007, campaigned saying “It’s my turn” to govern Africa’s largest economy. 

He promised “Renewed Hope” but faced questions from rivals over his health, past graft accusations and ties to Buhari, who many critics say failed to make Nigeria safer. 

The election was a tight race for the first time since Nigeria ended military rule in 1999, after Obi, 61, drew younger voters with his message of change from his political old guard rivals.

Nearly 90 million Nigerians were eligible to vote, with almost 10 million of them new voters, many under the age of 34, who wanted a chance to have a say in a change for Nigeria.

One surprise result was Obi’s victory in Lagos, the state with the largest number of registered voters and the traditional bastion of APC’s Tinubu, known as the “Godfather of Lagos”.

The state’s eponymous megacity has put Nigeria on the cultural map with its glitzy Nollywood film scene and global Afrobeats stars like Burna Boy, but nearly half of Nigerians live in poverty and inflation is in double digits.  

Security challenges for Nigeria’s next leader are huge. A grinding Islamist insurgency in the northeast has displaced more than two million, bandit militias carry out mass abductions in the northwest and separatists attack police in the southeast.

– Fraud claims –

For the election, INEC introduced biometric voter identification technology for the first time at the national level and its IReV central database for uploading results to improve transparency.

But opposition parties said failures in the system to upload tallies allowed for ballot manipulation and disparities in the results from the manual counts at local polling stations.

“The election is irretrievably compromised,” Labour Party chairman Julius Abure told reporters on Tuesday. “We demand that this sham of an election should be immediately cancelled.”

Long delays in voting and slow results, frustrated and angered many voters.

The ruling APC party dismissed the opposition claims as an effort to “truncate” democracy because PDP and Labour knew they were losing.

But international observers, including from the European Union, noted major logistical problems, disenfranchised voters and a lack of transparency by INEC.

Local observer group Yiaga said it conducted a parallel vote tabulation for the presidential election and would hold a press conference after official results were released. 

“If the official results are manipulated at any point in the process we will be able to expose it,” Yiaga said.

In 2019, INEC was forced to delay the election by a week just hours before voting started. PDP’s Abubakar cried fraud when Buhari beat him that time around, but the supreme court later tossed out his claim.

AFP
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