On Tuesday, February 28, 2023, the counting of votes will resume after the presidential elections in Nigeria, where Paula Tinubu, the candidate of the ruling party, appears slightly ahead, while the parties of the two opposition candidates denounce the “manipulation” of the results.
On Saturday, more than 87 million voters were called to the polls to choose from 18 candidates, a president whose arduous task in his four years in office is to reform a country suffering from a collapsing economy and violence waged by armed and criminal groups, as well as generalized poverty among the population.
Nigerians elected a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari (80 years old), who left office after two presidential terms (as stipulated in the constitution), and their deputies and senators.
The Electoral Commission postponed the counting of votes, which will resume on Tuesday at 10 am GMT. So far, official results have been announced in 14 of the country’s 36 states and in the federal capital, Abuja.
So far, Paula Tinubu of the ruling “All Progressives Congress” party led by current President Muhammadu Buhari leads the results by obtaining more than 3.8 million votes, compared to 3 million votes for Ateeq Abu Bakr, the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, which is the main opposition party.
These two candidates are ahead of Peter Obi, a candidate who is new to politics, and whose popularity among young people surprised everyone. So far, the Labor-backed candidate has won 1.6 million votes.
The results of the vast majority of states are still unknown, especially in Kano (north), Kaduna (northwest) and Rivers (southeast).
accusations of forgery
Saturday’s voting took place generally peacefully, despite some security incidents and logistical problems. But delays in counting votes and the massive failure of electronic transmission of results (which is being tested for the first time at the national level) have fueled fears and accusations of fraud.
Dino Marley, representative of the People’s Democratic Party, said on Monday that the electoral commission “was under pressure” and that the ruling party “influenced it to change the results.”
Likewise, the Labor Party’s campaign director, Akin Osuntokon, demanded that the results be stopped, stressing that the number of votes had been manipulated.
For his part, Obi, who is leading at the national level, was a surprise on Monday because he won the largest number of votes in the strategic state of Lagos, which is the economic powerhouse in the country with a population of 20 million, and it is also the stronghold of Bola Tinubu.
Tinubu is called the “Godfather of Lagos” because of his great political influence in this region, which he was governor from 1999 to 2007. He did not comment on the partial national results, but he acknowledged his defeat in Lagos and called for calm.
“The significance” of Obi’s victory in Lagos should not be exaggerated, said Amaka Anko, an analyst with Eurasia Group. “What is important is to know what Tinubu has achieved in the north – so far, he seems to be doing well there – and elsewhere in (his strongholds) in the southwest of the country,” he added.
It will take time for full results to be announced: so far Bola Tinubu has won six states (Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo, Ogun and Jigawa), while Atiq Abubakar has won five states (Usun, Yobe, Katsina, Adamawa and Gombe) and Peter Obi won in Three states (Lagos, Enugu and Nasarawa).
This is one of the closest elections Nigeria has ever seen. For the first time, since the return of democracy in 1999, the country could witness a second round of elections. As to win from the first round, the winner must receive, in addition to the majority of the votes cast, no less than 25 percent of the votes in two-thirds of the 36 states to which the Abuja region is added.
So far, votes have not been counted in several states in the north of the country. Paula Tinubu and Ateeq Abu Bakr (76 years old), who are Muslims, can benefit from a large base in this region. Peter Obi, a 61-year-old Christian, may also count on votes in the country’s southeast, which is where he hails from.
Ethnic and religious voting is important in Nigeria, which has more than 250 ethnic groups and is polarized between the Muslim-majority north and the Christian-majority south.
Nigeria, with a population of 216 million, is expected to become the third most populous country in the world by 2050, while West Africa faces the risk of a sharp decline in democracy and the spread of jihadist violence.
Nigeria has become a global cultural powerhouse thanks to Nollywood, the very strong Nigerian film industry, and Afrobeat music, which has been popularized by artists such as Burna Boy and Wiz Kid.
But faced with the enormous hardships Nigerians experience in daily life, exacerbated by a shortage of basic items, many of them demand change, expressing their indignation at the decades-old poor governance and the advances of the Sunni elites and their involvement in corruption.