Bola Tinubu, the 70-year-old candidate of the Congress of All Progressives (APC) party, which also hails from outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari, has been declared the winner of the presidential election in Nigeria. The opposition has reservations about the credibility of the procedures and is demanding a repeat of the vote. The elections in Africa’s most populous country are the biggest test of democracy on the continent, and their outcome will have consequences for the entire region.
Nigerian National Electoral Commission (INEC) reported that Bola Tinubu, 70, of the ruling APC party, won the presidential election with 37 percent of the vote. According to INEC, the candidate of the largest opposition PDP party, former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, 76, came second with 29 percent, while Labor candidate Peter Obi (25 percent) came third, who many commentators said was the biggest surprise, and for many Nigerians’ best hope for this election.
– I am very happy that I was elected president of the federal republic Nigeria Tinubu said, addressing a crowd of supporters in the capital, Abuja. It’s a serious mandate. I hereby accept it,” he added.
Outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari congratulated him on his victory.
The third one
For a long time, there was no politician on the Nigerian political scene who would be able to threaten the two-party system that has been functioning in Nigeria for many years. Since 1999, when democracy returned to the country after decades of military dictatorships, power was held alternately by two parties – the APC and the PDP.
61-year-old Peter Obi, the former governor of Anambra state, who enjoys the support of young, educated urban residents, had a real chance of winning in a clash with two political veterans. His start mobilized a large part of the electorate, which for years remained passive and reluctant to participate in the electoral process, doubting its honesty. This time, many Nigerians saw a spark of hope to crack in the “concreted” and corrupt political system. That crack was supposed to be Peter Obi.
Hope for a real change, however, faded when INEC announced the winner. The office of president is to be taken over by a candidate from the same party as the outgoing president Muhammadu Buhari – a politician who, for two terms, failed to properly deal with any of Nigeria’s main problems, handing over a country mired in crises and chaos to his successor.
Who is the president-elect?
Bola Tinubu, who has wielded power from behind the scenes for much of his career, has been called the “Godfather” of the Nigerian establishment. In the past, he financed the election campaigns of candidates for the highest offices in the country, including the outgoing President Buhari.
Tinubu, 70, served as governor of Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, for many years. During this period, he made a huge fortune. He was repeatedly accused of corruption, which he consistently denied. After stepping down from office, he nominated each successive candidate for governor of this most populous metropolis in Africa, writes Reuters.
His election campaign slogan was “Now it’s time for me”.
Technical problems and allegations of counterfeiting
This year’s presidential election was supposed to be the fairest and most open Nigeria has ever seen. The reality, however, left much to be desired.
Turnout was 27 percent, according to INEC, one of the lowest since the fall of Nigeria’s military dictatorship. Before the election, a new electronic voting system was introduced to streamline the process and increase its credibility. In practice, there were numerous technical problems, and the results of voting from individual polling stations were not sent directly to the INEC website, as promised by the commission.
Organizational chaos, as well as security incidents, including attacks by armed assailants and violent riots, prevented voting in many places. Due to disruptions in some regions, voting was also allowed the day after the original election date.
Problems on polling day, rather than voter apathy, are more likely to be responsible for the low number of ballots cast. As he adds, many potential voters left the polling stations without casting their votes into the ballot box, as voting began with a significant delay.
In some opposition strongholds, no votes were taken at all, and there were cases of ballot box snatching and voter intimidation in southern states such as Rivers, Lagos and Delta.
Opposition candidates unanimously rejected the results of the vote presented by INEC, considering them falsified, and demanded a re-run of the election. The election commission and the president-elect refer complaints to the court.
“I applaud INEC for holding credible elections no matter what anyone says,” Tinubu said. – There were relatively few irregularities reported and they did not have a significant impact on the final outcome of the election – he argued.
Why elections in Nigeria are important
87 million Nigerians are eligible to vote. This makes the country’s elections the biggest test of democracy on the African continent.
The winner will face a litany of problems and challenges facing Africa’s most populous country: widespread corruption, Islamic terrorists, economic crisis, shortages of fuel, cash and electricity, separatist sentiments in various parts of the country, as well as the progressive impoverishment of society. This is made more difficult by the fact that Nigerian society is made up of more than 250 ethnic groups, polarized between the predominantly Muslim north and the Christian south.
Nigeria is full of contradictions. It is said that it is a rich country of poor people. In a country rich in natural resources, more than 50 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. At the same time, many of the leaders of the list of the richest people in Africa come from Nigeria. The country, which is one of the largest oil exporters in the world, is struggling with fuel shortages and is forced to import it from abroad. It is also a country where, after the restoration of civilian rule, the office of president has been held many times by former generals.
The elections in this country are crucial for the entire region. Nigeria – with 216 million inhabitants – is set to become the third most populous country in the world by 2050. This country is also next door South Africa Africa’s largest economy and a key force for stability and security in the region. Meanwhile, today all of West Africa is threatened by the rapid collapse of democracy and the spread of jihadist violence.
tvn24.pl, BBC, Reuters, PAP
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/AKINTUNDE AKINLEYE