The president-elect must unite a divided country as he faces security and economic challenges.
Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Bola Tinubu has been declared the winner of the presidential election, sparking mixed reactions across the West African country.
On Wednesday, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, announced that Tinubu had won 37 percent of the vote in Saturday’s election and “having satisfied the requirements of the law, he is hereby declared the winner and returned elected.”
“This is a serious mandate – I hereby accept it. To serve you, … to work with you and make Nigeria great,” Tinubu said in an acceptance speech as supporters cheered “jagaban”, his local chieftaincy title.
What have been the reactions so far?
In Abuja, a small group of protesters held placards and played socially conscious Nigerian songs in Millennium Park, opposite the exclusive hotel where many election observers have been staying.
At least two observer missions, including the EU team, have highlighted major logistical problems, disenfranchised voters and a lack of transparency from the electoral commission.
The hotel was also the venue on Tuesday for press conferences by leaders of the opposition Labor Party, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and African Democratic Congress as well as two vice presidential candidates, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed and Ifeanyi Okowa.
“It is, to put it mildly, a rape of democracy,” said Julius Abure, the Labor Party chairman, as he alleged widespread manipulation.
Dino Melaye, a PDP stalwart, called the vote tally a “vote allocation”.
The Election Commission introduced biometric voter identification technology for the first time at the national level and a portal for uploading election results to improve transparency.
But the opposition and its supporters said the system’s failure to upload numbers allowed the manipulation of ballots and discrepancies in the results of the manual counts at polling stations.
“In the eyes of God, the man (Tinubu) is not the winner,” trader Mercy Efong said in Awka, the capital of Anambra, Labor Party candidate Peter Obi’s home state.
Still, there were celebrations on Wednesday at the APC campaign headquarters and in parts of Lagos as the political kingpin finally became king, the first Nigerian “political godfather” ever to achieve his ambition to become president.
What happens afterwards?
Tinubu’s inauguration as president of Africa’s most populous democracy does not take place until May 29. In February, outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari formed a committee to smooth the transition.
But the opposition is set to mount a spirited legal challenge before that.
“We will go to court within the limits of time,” Baba-Ahmed of the Labor Party said of himself and Obi. “The legal people are putting together the papers.”
Petitions against the results can be sent to the courts days after the announcement of the results. Telection petition board expected to end any challenges within 180 days. The Supreme Court has the final say on petitions.
What work awaits the president-elect?
If sworn in as expected, Tinubu will inherit a de facto land from Buhari. Its divisions are highlighted in the election results. Tinubu won 12 of the country’s 36 states and lost the capital Abuja and his home base Lagos. He and incoming Vice President Kashim Shettima are both Muslims in a country that is fairly evenly split between Christians and Muslims.
Nigeria’s economy is also struggling. It has had two recessions in five years, partly due to policy missteps and the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Cash and fuel shortages have also caused nationwide anger in the weeks leading up to the election.
Beyond that, the new administration will have to deal with widespread uncertainty in almost all six geopolitical zones.
Boko Haram has waged a 13-year armed campaign in the northeast, and several armed groups operate elsewhere in the country, including secessionists in the southeast and bandits in northwest and central Nigeria.