Bola Tinubu, the leader of the All Progressives Congress, was challenged by the two biggest losers in Nigeria’s contested election on Thursday, with one calling the results “a rape of democracy” and the other appealing to the courts.
With 8.8 million votes and the necessary number of ballots cast across two-thirds of Nigeria’s states, Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State, was proclaimed the victor of Saturday’s election.
On Saturday, over 25 million people cast ballots in a relatively peaceful election that was plagued by lengthy delays and the sluggish release of online results, enraging voters and opposition parties who asserted widespread vote manipulation.
Atiku Abubakar, the major candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party, and Peter Obi, a surprise third-party contender from the Labour Party who appealed to younger people with his change-focused campaign, competed against 70-year-old Tinubu on the ballot.
Former Anambra State governor Obi announced on Thursday that he will take the election results to court in an effort to show Nigerians that he had won the race for president.
According to official results released on Wednesday, he received 6.1 million votes, which places him in a tie for third place. This is a huge accomplishment for an outsider in a nation where two establishment parties have held sway since the end of military government in 1999.
“We will explore all legal and peaceful options to reclaim our mandate. We won the election and we will prove it to Nigerians,” Obi told reporters in the capital Abuja.
Tinubu, a political kingmaker whose influence earned him the nickname “Godfather of Lagos”, is set to succeed two-term President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), who steps down in May.
He faces immense security and economic challenges in Africa’s most populous country.
Atiku, the PDP candidate who came in sixth in the race for president, criticized Tinubu’s win, calling it a “rape of democracy.”
As a result, the election “must be contested by all of us,” according to Atiku, who claimed that it was fundamentally defective in every material respect.
Atiku said that he was seeking legal advice before deciding what to do next.
When the results are announced, candidates have 21 days to file legal objections and take their case to court.
On Wednesday, President-elect Tinubu urged his opponents to “join hands” with him so that they could “start the job of restoring our national home together.”
Elections in Nigeria have frequently been accompanied by violence and accusations of fraud.
The Independent National Electoral Commission launched IReV, a single online database for uploading results, and biometric voter identification this year in an effort to allay some of those worries.
However, several voters and opposition parties claimed that irregularities in the results were made possible by system flaws when tallies were uploaded.
Significant logistical issues, disenfranchised voters, and a lack of INEC openness were also noticed by international observers, notably those from the European Union.
An umbrella group of Nigerian civil society organisations and observers said the process “cannot be considered to have been credible.”
“Given the lack of transparency, particularly in the result collation process, there can be no confidence in the results of these elections,” The Situation Room coalition said.
Glitches with the new technology caused huge delays and queues, discouraging some people from voting.
With a number of registered voters at 93.4 million, INEC said turnout was just over 27 per cent — even less than in the previous 2019 election.
Obi, who for many especially young Nigerians represented hope for change, said the vote “will go down as one of the most controversial elections ever conducted in Nigeria.”
“The good and hardworking people of Nigeria have again been robbed by our supposed leaders whom they trusted.”