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Opposition Challenges Bola Tinubu Victory in Nigerian Presidential Race

In Nigeria, Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress party was declared the winner of last week's presidential election by Nigeria's electoral commission (INEC) on Wednesday.


Tinubu’s two main opponents were Atiku Abubakar, a businessman of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Peter Obi, a surprise third-party contender running for the Labour Party.


According to the final INEC tallies from all 36 states and the federal capital Abuja, Tinubu received around 36.6% or 8.79 million legal votes cast during the weekend poll.


This put him ahead of Obi, who received 25.4% of the vote, or around 6.1 million votes, and Abubakar, who received 29.1%, or 6.98 million valid votes.


Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People's Party, a fourth contestant, also captured votes in the north.


A presidential candidate must receive the largest number of votes cast nationwide and at least a quarter of the vote in no fewer than 24 of Nigeria's 36 states. Tinubu accomplished this despite being the first president to be elected with less than 50% of the vote.


The president-elect is set to take office on May 29. Tinubu’s victory prolongs the authority of the All Progressives Congress party, which has been in charge since 2015. President Muhammadu Buhari is barred from seeking a third term under term-limit legislation, and the end of his presidency represents the nation's longest democratic tenure since its independence.


The electoral contest, however, took place against the backdrop of fierce tensions between political parties and a series of overlapping security crises that affect the regular conduct of elections. His opponents have disputed the results, alleging fraud, while election observers and voters have cited delays, closures, and violence at voting sites.


One-third of polling locations were still closed an hour after voting began on February 25th, according to monitors from the Center for Democracy and Development, a non-governmental organization based in Abuja, the capital. Armed men stormed voting stations in battleground states such as Lagos, Kano, and Rivers. There were also reports of voter intimidation, vote buying, the stealing of ballot boxes, and the burning of ballot papers. 


Hours after the election results were released Wednesday, the Labor Party’s vice presidential candidate, Datti Baba-Ahmed, informed reporters in Abuja that they intend to dispute the results in court on the grounds that the election did not comply with Nigerian electoral law. "The next government is going to be built on outright illegality,” warned Baba-Ahmed ahead of the vote count.


The People's Democratic Party is also contesting the results. The PDP and Labor Party held a joint press conference on Tuesday and criticized the election results as a sham hours before Tinubu was announced the winner. The two parties have demanded a re-run of the election and the resignation of the head of the electoral commission, Mahmood Yakubu. 


In response, Tinubu said the reported abnormalities were "few in number and were inconsequential to the final conclusion." Elections officials also maintain that the election was "free, fair, and credible.”


As is common in Nigerian elections, those who challenge the legitimacy of the election will almost certainly seek redress in court. Obi is no stranger to election legal battles: he was returned to office by courts on two separate occasions after the electoral commission declared his opponents as winners of the gubernatorial elections he contested.


Particular attention will likely be paid to the results in places where Tinubu just barely exceeded the 25% threshold that any candidate needs to cross in at least two-thirds of Nigeria's 36 states and the federal capital, such as Adamawa and Bayelsa states, where Tinubu received only 25.01% and 25.8%, respectively.


After being presented with a document confirming his election as president-elect, Tinubu appealed for support from all Nigerians and pledged to bring unity to a divided nation. “For this to be a victory at all, it cannot simply be a victory for one man or even one party.”


Tinubu promised to work for all, including those who did not vote for him. “Let’s collaborate and work together. I promise to work with you,” he said, referring to his political opponents.


However, the presidential election last week was the tightest since the country's restoration to democracy in 1999, and uncertainties about the legitimacy of its results reflect how difficult it will be for Tinubu to unite a country that is still divided by religion, language, and ethnicity. The election result shook financial markets, with Nigeria's international bonds falling on fears that the opposition parties' claims of vote manipulation could lead to turmoil.


Nigeria, a country that is one of the world's most important oil suppliers, is facing a crumbling economy, high inflation, and widespread insecurity. Many Nigerians are skeptical of his ability to create economic prosperity for everyone, let alone eliminate violence and corruption in Africa's most populous nation.



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Tags: Nigeria Democracy Africa Election Tinubu PDP Labor Party Peter Obi


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