Losers Dispute Nigeria's Vote

Ruling party stays in power after low-turnout presidential election
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 1, 2023 4:32 PM CST
Bola Tinubu Wins Nigeria's Vote
Supporters of presidential candidate Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress celebrate his victory Wednesday at the party's campaign headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.   (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Election officials declared Bola Tinubu the winner of Nigeria's presidential election Wednesday, keeping the ruling party in power in Africa's most populous nation and raising the specter of protests by opposition supporters who already have called for the vote to be voided. Tinubu, 70, the former governor of Lagos state, appealed for reconciliation with his rivals in a predawn victory speech in the capital, Abuja. The running mate of one opposition candidate, though, signaled a court challenge was imminent. Nigeria, Africa's largest economy and one of its top oil producers, has seen deadly violence erupt after previous presidential elections. Tinubu urged Nigerians to unite behind his administration after he takes office on May 29, the AP reports.

"I will ... dedicate this day and record it as the moment that we vowed to come together to make Nigeria stand, shining forth as the beloved and brave republic that God created for all of us," he said in a speech after the election commission gave him a certificate confirming he was president-elect. Tinubu received only 37% of the vote in last weekend's election and would be Nigeria's first president to take office with less than 50%, analysts say. The main opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, received won 29% of the vote, while third-place finisher Obi got 25%, according to official results.

Hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission announced the tallies, Obi's running mate, Datti Baba-Ahmed, told reporters they welcome peaceful protests of the result. "There is an incoming government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that is illegal and unconstitutional," Baba-Ahmed said. The election recorded the lowest turnout since 1999, with 27% of eligible voters casting ballots. The low participation doesn't necessarily reflect apathy as much as fuel and currency shortages, voter suppression, and violence, said a West Africa analyst for a risk intelligence company. Much of Nigeria remained calm Wednesday afternoon. In the Kubwa area of Abuja, Tinubu supporters flooded the streets, singing and dancing. A nearby Obi supporter expressed her dismay. "I will join a protest, if there is one, because my vote did not count," said Favour Ben.

(Read more Nigeria stories.)

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