By Violet Ikong
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of Nigeria’s ruling political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), has emerged as winner of the country’s keenly contested presidential elections held on Saturday, February 25, 2023.
The country’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) announced Tinubu’s victory in the early hours of Wednesday at the country’s federal capital territory, Abuja. Tinubu ran against 17 other candidates and secured 8,794,726 votes to emerge as the winner in 12 out of 36 states. His closest rival, Atiku Abubakar, who is Nigeria’s former vice president, came second, securing a total of 6,984,520 votes – also from 12 states. Peter Obi, a former governor of Nigeria’s southeastern Anambra state, finished close to Abubakar with 6,101,533 votes from 12 states including the federal capital territory, Abuja.
Reactions are mixed following the announcement of Tinubu’s victory at the polls, with many across the country saying the elections were not free and fair. Some are calling for the results to be canceled, citing issues of poll rigging, voter oppression, and lack of transparency in the transmission of results. The majority of these aggrieved Nigerians are supporters of the Labour Party (LP) candidate, Peter Obi. Some people took to the streets in Abuja on Tuesday and Wednesday to protest the outcome of the elections, calling Tinubu’s victory “stolen.” The protesters carried placards with messages such as “save our democracy,” “rigging is not part of our mandate,” “Nigerians have lost confidence in INEC,” and “Nigerians reject the election results.”
Before the elections, several online polls had predicted Obi would become Nigeria’s next president, particularly because he had the backing of the country’s youth. His supporters call themselves “Obidients” and insist that their candidate won the election but was robbed by the country’s electoral body, INEC. Some of the supporters are calling on the LP candidate to challenge the election results in court.
Both Abubakar and Obi have remained silent since the results were announced and are yet to congratulate Tinubu. Yusuf Datti, the LP’s vice-presidential candidate, addressed the party’s supporters on Wednesday in the late afternoon, pleading for calm and encouraging them to support the party in the forthcoming gubernatorial elections slated for March 11. He also informed them that the results of the presidential elections will be challenged in court. Obi, in social media posts made shortly after Datti’s address, said he will be addressing Nigerians and the international community shortly.
Meanwhile the 70 year old Tinubu has said the elections were free and fair; he called for unity between his supporters and opponents. He also promised to work with young people to move the country forward.
“Now, to you, the young people of this country, I hear you loud and clear. I understand your pains, your yearnings for good governance, a functional economy, and a safe nation that protects you and your future.
“I am aware that for many of you Nigeria has become a place of abiding challenges limiting your ability to see a bright future for yourselves.
“Remodeling our precious national home requires the harmonious efforts of all of us, especially the youth. Working together, we shall move this nation as never before,” Tinubu said.
Tinubu — who served as governor of Lagos state, southwestern Nigeria from 1999 to 2007 — will be sworn in as Nigeria’s president on May 29, 2023, and will take over from the current president, Muhammadu Buhari.