Bola Tinubu, the candidate of the ruling party in Nigeria, won the presidential elections that took place on Saturday, February 25, 2023, and the opposition contested the results, while the country hopes for a change in the largest country in Africa in terms of population.
The National Election Commission said Tinubu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), had secured 8.8 million votes in what was the biggest contest in Nigeria’s democratic history.
He was ahead of his two main rivals, Atiq Abu Bakr, the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, who received 6.9 million votes, and Peter Obi, the candidate of the Workers’ Party, who received 6.1 million votes.
In addition to topping the results at the national level, Tinubu also won more than 25% of the votes in at least two-thirds of the country’s states (at least 24 out of 36 states) in addition to the Abuja metropolitan area, which is a sine qua non for winning the presidency.
His supporters singled him out for a warm welcome at his campaign headquarters shortly after announcing his victory.
Addressing the opposition, Tinubu said, “I invite my rivals to form a team that includes all of us. This is our only home.” The opposition was accused of “massive” fraud even before the results were announced.
“This is our country. We must build it together and fix what has been broken. We must work as one,” he added.
The new president is 70 years old and nicknamed “The Godfather” because of his vast political influence. With his victory, he achieved an ambition that accompanied him throughout his career, and he always stressed during his campaign, “My turn has come.”
Benubo succeeds outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari, 80, who held the presidency for two consecutive terms, the maximum allowed under the constitution.
His political career was punctuated by several accusations of corruption, but no judicial ruling was issued against him, and he always denied that he had committed any wrongdoing.
It is expected that Nigeria, with a population of 216 million, will become, in 2050, the third largest country in the world in terms of population in West Africa, which is threatened by a significant decline in democracy and the spread of jihadist violence.
Nigeria, which has the strongest economy on the African continent, has become a global cultural powerhouse thanks to the “Afrobeats” style of music that ignites the world’s stages with stars such as Burna Boy and Wizkid.
However, Tinubu especially inherits a set of problems. Over the course of four years, he will have to correct the course of this giant African country, which is suffering from economic decline and frequent acts of violence committed by armed and criminal groups, as well as generalized poverty affecting the population.
accusations of fraud
Although he was long considered the favorite to win the elections thanks to the national base of the ruling party and his personal wealth, Tinubu, a Muslim from the Yorobu people, saw the gap with his rivals narrow as the electoral campaign progressed.
The personality of Peter Obi, the 61-year-old former ruler, known for his integrity, attracted a large part of the youth thirsty for change who were tired of the aging ruling elites known for their corruption.
In addition to this, the very large shortage of banknotes and fuel over the weeks before the elections, exacerbating the already great anger of Nigerians towards the authorities, which have a disastrous record against the backdrop of widespread insecurity and the high cost of living.
On Saturday, more than 87 million voters were invited to the polls to choose from 18 candidates, but the turnout rate has not yet been known. The polling process took place generally quietly.
However, after the delay in counting the votes and the major defect in transmitting the results electronically, the Abu Bakr and Obi parties denounced the “sham” elections, and demanded an “immediate cancellation” of them and the holding of a “new ballot.”
The two parties also questioned the independence of the Electoral Commission, which in turn considered “no basis” for these accusations. She added that candidates can “resort to the courts” if they consider that they have been subjected to injustice.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, seven elections have been held at the national level in Nigeria, almost all of which have been contested.
Several foreign observers criticized the lack of transparency as well.
The disappointment will be great among the supporters of the opposition and Peter Obi, who believed until the end that the victory of their candidate was possible, especially since, in their view, it embodies a break with past practices and the establishment of a more just society.
Many analysts were skeptical about the ability of Obi, who is of Igbo ethnicity and origin from the southeast of the country, to meet the conditions of the constitution to win, namely obtaining a quarter of the votes in two-thirds of the country’s states.
Ethnic voting is still very prevalent in Nigeria, which has more than 250 ethnic groups and is polarized between the Muslim-majority north and the Christian-majority south.