The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Nigeria on Wednesday announced Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress party (APC) as the winner of the highly disputed 2023 Nigeria presidential elections.
According to INEC, Tinubu garnered 8.8 million votes against 6.9 million garnered by opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar while Labour Party's Peter Obi got 6.1 million votes.
The president-elect, also referred to as "Jagaban", was declared winner of the election by INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu Wednesday morning at the National Collation Centre in Abuja.
Mr Tinubu, who was governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007 garnered 8,805,420 votes.
Mr Abubakar, who served as vice president from 1999 to 2007, garnered 6,984,290 votes while 62-year-old Obi, a former governor of Anambra State got 6,093,962 votes, and 65-year-old Rabiu Kwankwaso of New Nigeria People's Party (NNPP) managed to get 1,496,671 votes.While Tinubu won in 13 states, Abubakar and Obi both won in 11 states.
The APC candidate scored Nigeria’s constitutionally required majority votes, and also secured the second requirement of 25 percent of the votes in 25 states (two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states and Abuja) as required by Section 134 of the Nigerian Constitution.
'It's my turn'
With President Muhammadu Buhari stepping down, many Nigerians hoped Saturday's vote would open the way to a leader able to tackle insecurity, ease the economic crisis and manage poverty in their country.
In his campaigns, Tinubu decalred "it's my turn" as he promised "renewed hope" for Nigerians even as he faced questions from rivals over his health, past corruption 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. 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 being new voters, many under 34 years who wanted a chance to have a say in a change for Nigeria.
PDP and LP 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 stemming from the states point to a free, fair and credible process," the INEC said in response.
INEC also said parties should allow the process to run its course and then take their claims to court.
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 voting was mostly peaceful but there were long delays at many polling stations, while technical hitches disrupted the uploading of results to a central website, fuelling concerns over vote rigging.
INEC introduced biometric voter identification technology for the first time at the national level and its INEC Election Result Viewer (IReV) central database for uploading results to improve transparency.
However, 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.
During tallying, PDP and LP opposed further announcement of the results despite winning in the APC strongholds.
But INEC continued announcing the results even as some representatives of the parties walked out of the national collation centre in Abuja on Monday after a gruelling shouting match.
"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.
Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo, supporter of the underdog LP, also called for the annulment of the election.
Dismissed opposition claims
The ruling APC party dismissed the opposition claims as an effort to "truncate" democracy because PDP and LP knew they were losing.
The APC Presidential Campaign Council on Tuesday faulted the call by the opposition for the cancellation of the election, saying it would amount to aborting an electoral process adjudged free and fair by international observers.
APC-PCC Adviser on Media, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Dele Alake likened the election to a full-term pregnancy, insisting that “the process cannot be aborted at this point until it is allowed to go its full course”, which is “the formal announcement of the result of the election”.
“We have always suspected that Labour Party and PDP are the same, only divided by individual inordinate ambitions. We want to remind them that the election is a process like ‘pregnancy’ that has reached full term, it cannot be aborted. We are not in 1993 when the June 12 baby was aborted by similar forces. It is too late to do so,” he said.
International observers, including those from the EU, 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 are 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 but the Nigerian Supreme Court later dismissed his claim.