As results of Nigeria's presidential and national assembly election held on Saturday trickled in, opposition political parties cruising high begun calling for a nullification in some parts of the country.
Although the opposition parties were reported to be waxing stronger and clinching many states which have been the strongholds of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) including Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, they were irked by the fact that APC was still leading in the polls.
And despite the Nigerian underdog, the Labour Party, relentlessly eating deep into APC turfs by clinching very important states of Lagos and Plateau among others, it is also spoiling for a further fight, calling for results nullification.
Also, the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), whicht was ousted in 2015 by APC, is also calling for cancellation of results despite winning APC’s states of Katsina, Kebbi and Osun among others.
Manually transmitted results
Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo who is supporting the Labour Party, is leading the calls for results to be cancelled in all areas of the country where they believe were compromised.
On Monday, Obasanjo also called for the rejection of all election results which were manually transmitted.
The elder Nigerian statesman, who alleged that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and servers used during the elections were compromised, noted that a cancellation would rectify the anomaly.
“It is no secret that INEC officials, at operational level, have been allegedly compromised to make what should have worked not to work and to revert to manual transmission of results which is manipulated and the results doctored,” Obasanjo said.
“The INEC chairman 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 servers are not a true reflection of the will of Nigerians who have made their individual choice,” he added.
Obasanjo, who noted that Nigeria’s outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari had proven beyond doubts that he intended to leave a legacy of free, fair, transparent and credible elections, called on him to intervene and reschedule elections in the affected areas.
Labour Party speaks
The dark horse Labour Party, which took Nigeria by storm and has caused upsets in APC and PDP turfs, has also alleged that the processes leading to the election results have been compromised.
Mr Akin Osuntokun, the party's director-general of its presidential campaign council, said on Monday in Abuja that INEC did not follow the publicly advertised guidelines for the conduct of the elections.
“Consequently, we regret to state that we have lost confidence in the results being collated and being announced,’’ he said.
He said that Nigerians swamped the party with calls and protests over INEC’s non-compliance with provisions of the electoral guidelines and the "obvious manipulations of the election results".
“We hereby call on INEC to suspend further results announcements and follow its own guidelines or completely cancel the entire election and make plans for another election with strict compliance with the stipulated laws and guidelines,” he said.
He also urged the international community to walk their talk in Nigeria and condemn the "multiple evils that are being perpetrated in the country".
Evidence of election offences
Mr Diran Onifade, the Media Director of the Labour Party Campaign Organisation, also said that Nigerians came out to vote hopeful of INEC and the Nigerian Government to provide a free and fair credible election.
“After careful consideration of field reports from various locations, we have on record evidence of election irregularities by INEC and security officials, and vicious attacks by political thugs, one of whom was caught with half a million dollars in cash.” he said.
According to Onifade, the Amended Electoral Act of Nigeria says that election results were to be uploaded to the central server from the polling units and that the manual collation made no sense.
He added that according to Section 60 of the Nigerian Electoral Act 2022, an election presiding officer is mandated to announce the results at the polling unit in the presence of party agents.
PDP national collation agent Dino Melaye and other party agents walked out of the International Conference Centre in Abuja over alleged rigging.
Dino alleged that INEC had been compromised and the election was rigged in favour of the ruling APC.
“Having observed that INEC chairman is determined to rig the elections by making sure that results are not uploaded, we are not here to rubber stamp the electoral fraud that has been prepared by INEC and the APC,” he said.
Meanwhile, also irked by the outcome of the results from its stronghold, APC has called on its restless supporters to be calm and promised to uphold the outcome of the results.
APC presidential candidate Bola Tinubu urged the party’s supporters to be unruffled and avoid any act that can lead to a breakdown of law and order.
Tinubu’s plea is coming in the wake of his loss to LP presidential candidate Peter Obi in Lagos.
The result came as a big blow to many APC supporters in Lagos who had earlier anticipated an early victory for the former Lagos state governor.
APC commended Nigerian security forces for providing a conducive voting environment despite reports of attacks and intimidation on their supporters in some areas by agents of opposition parties.
“As the party that was [best] prepared for the 2023 polls and whose candidates ran the best campaigns, we of course have a functional situation room to which our 176,606 agents filled accurate data in real time, bearing true reflection of the wishes and aspirations of voters expressed freely on February 25, 2023,” APC said in a statement.
The party also added that in line with provisions of Nigeria’s Electoral Act, they believe the duty for declaring election results lies squarely with INEC.
INEC shrugged off demands for either fresh polls or results nullification and reported it would not pause the ongoing collation and declaration of the results.
AU and Ecowas recommendations
As the complications lasted, the African Union (AU) and Ecowas observation teams deployed to monitor the Nigerian elections made recommendations for improvement in the country’s electoral process.
They noted that Nigeria’s democracy is critical to the stability of West Africa and the continent in general.
Former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, who is the leader of the AU observation mission, and former Sierra Leone president Ernest Koroma, the leader of the Ecowas mission, read out the recommendations.
The missions also noted that the Saturday elections saw an improvement from past elections.
Improve on logistic
Reading out the AU Observation Mission’s statement, Kenyatta urged the INEC to improve on logistics operations and review the allocation of voters per polling unit to ensure everyone cast their ballots within the stipulated time.
“Consider necessary measures to allow for voting for election officials and essential workers that may be on duty during the polling days.
“Review the allocation of voters per polling unit as a way to ensure that it is equitable, strengthening measures to enhance accessibility to polling units especially for people that require special assistance,” Kenyatta said.
Communicate with stakeholders
He also said INEC was supposed to sustain efforts to regularly communicate with stakeholders throughout the electoral process.
On his part, Koroma said that the objective of the observation mission was to promote peaceful, democratic and credible polls.
“INEC should intensify and increase the frequency of communication on developments regarding the electoral process to the general public and promptly share information in order to discourage misinformation through social media and other means,” Koroma said.
“Ensure ongoing training of technical and ad-hoc staff to professionally handle and resolve issues related to the use of BVAS machines,” he added.
He also noted the system of uploading results needed to be reviewed in real time and communication on the voting and collation process should be enhanced.
The missions urged stakeholders and Nigerians to remain peaceful and ensure a peaceful transition to the next administration.