So many Nigerians are ‘very depressed’ about the February 25th presidential election which held across the country, as there were ‘lack of transparency and the prevalence of significant irregularities in the voting and counting process’. Nigerian PR specialist Chinwendu said.
Marred by allegations of widespread rigging, violence, and abuse of power, the election which was arguably the most anticipated in the history of Nigeria since Democracy might not be over and would, from all account, likely go down as the opaquest election in the country. In a damning observation address in the nation’s capital, Barry Andrews, Head of the EU Election Observation Mission, cited ‘the abuse of incumbency’ as one of the many issues that undermined the electoral process. Additionally, he said that the Independent Electoral Committee’s (INEC) lack of ‘efficient planning’ and ‘transparency’ greatly flawed the electoral process.
According to results released by the electoral committee, Tinubu of the All Progressive Party (APC) won the majority of valid votes (8.79 million) across 12 states, while People Democratic Party’s (PDP) Atiku trailed behind with 6.98 million valid votes across 12 states, leaving Labour Party’s Obi with 6.1 million votes across 11 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Even though Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been proclaimed the victor, many Nigerians, including an ex-president and members of the main opposition parties, have disputed his emergence as president-elect. Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president of Nigeria, pleaded with the electoral commission in an open letter to call off the election so that all mistakes may be fixed. He challenged the INEC chairman not to ‘fold his hands’ knowing that the electoral process has been ‘corrupted’ and most results are ‘not a true reflection of the will of Nigerians’.
Baba-Ahmed Datti, the Labour party’s running mate, also vehemently stated that ‘elections were not held’ since INEC flagrantly disregarded the law, which would have justified what should have qualified the activity as an election. He also told the media that the results would be contested in court ‘regardless of the extremely low level of confidence’ even in the judicial system.
An independent observers group – Citizen’s Observers Hub in Nigeria has also called on the international communities ‘not to recognise the purported results and announcement by INEC’ as the election ‘cannot be said to be free and fair’.
The Nigerian youths also expressed their opinions. They believe that if a candidate must win, it should, at the very least, be fair and square. Bolanle Olukanni, a Nigerian TV anchor, described to CNN in a passionate interview a situation in which INEC officials ‘used a pen to cancel’ the initial results recorded at the voting unit. She vehemently asserted that INEC is totally ‘corrupt’ and has refused to address the questions brought forth. She added that the youths are content to move forward ‘if we know that the results are free and fair’ but INEC must declare who genuinely won and not who they ‘have been paid to say’ emerged as the victor.
Tinubu’s Candidacy has not been without criticism from the start.
Several allegations of him buying party delegates’ votes with millions of dollars have surfaced since the primary elections, which helped him win the nomination for the All Progressive Party (APC). According to a 2022 article in Premium Times, Rotimi Amaechi, the former governor of Rivers State, said that some delegates were paid to cast their votes in the APC presidential primaries in June 2022. The People’s Gazette also reported that some delegates from Ogun State claimed that Tinubu had given them each $25,000 to persuade them to accept his position as the party’s presidential flag-bearer. Other delegates from Adamawa States claimed to have received $10,000 each from Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s surrogates.
Also, he was the subject of numerous allegations during his campaign. Bola Ahmed Tinubu: From Drug Lord to Presidential Candidate by Nigerian investigative journalist David Hundeyin detailed how the current president-elect of Nigeria falsified his age, schooling, professional history, source of income and even his person.
Concerns about the now president-elect’s health dominated discussions in the media and among Nigerian youth throughout his campaign, in part because of the current president Muhammadu Buhari’s medical tourism to the UK, which is still very recent in Nigerians’ memories, and in part because Nigerians question whether his health can withstand the demands of the job at a time when the country is in such bad shape. Throughout the campaign, a number of videos depicting Tinubu giving rambling speeches, dozing off during events, or acting in an inappropriate way were shared on broadcast and digital media.
Is the election really over?
Several signs point to the recent election in Nigeria as the start of a protracted political drama. The two biggest opposition parties’ presidential candidates, Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar, have promised to take the upsetting procedure to court. ‘If you must answer “His Excellency”, the process through which you arrive to office must be excellent’ Labour Party’s Obi remarked in his first speech to the media following the election.
He added that the election would be remembered as the most ‘controversial’ in Nigerian history because it did not satisfy the ‘minimum standard’ of a free and fair election. According to him, ‘this is not the end but the beginning’ of the path towards ‘the birth of a New Nigeria’ as he walks to court.
Atiku of the PDP has also pledged to sue to overturn the outcome because the poll ‘was neither free nor fair’.
Amid all of these, Tinubu has commended INEC for ‘running a credible election, no matter what anybody says’ and has called out to the rival candidates in a friendly manner. He stated, ‘To my fellow candidates, former Vice President Atiku, former governor Kwankwaso, former governor Obi and all others, I extend the hand of friendship’, in his acceptance address in Abuja. ‘We should cooperate and work together’, he added.
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