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Bola Tinubu declared Nigeria president: Electoral commission

March 1, 2023

Former Lagos governor Bola Tinubu has been announced as the winner of the presidential election in Nigeria. Opposition candidates have criticized the weekend's vote in Africa's largest democracy.

Bola Tinubu celebrating the Nigerian election result
Bola Tinubu celebrated the result at his party's campaign headquarters in the capital, AbujaImage: Ben Curtis/AP Photo/picture alliance

Bola Tinubu from Nigeria's ruling party has won the country's presidential election, the electoral authority said in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The election was held over the weekend, and the results have been disputed by the two main opposition candidates.

Tinubu is from the All Progressives Congress — the party of outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari — and won with 8.8 million votes, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

"This is a serious mandate. I hereby accept it," Tinubu said to a crowd of his supporters in Abuja.

The INEC said Peoples Democratic Party candidate Atiku Abubakar came second with 6.9 million votes.

Labour Party candidate Peter Obi, who scored a major upset in Tinubu's home state of Lagos, came third with 6.1 million votes.

According to Nigerian electoral law, the candidate with the most votes can automatically be declared the winner if they also receive 25% of the vote in at least two-thirds of the 36 states and the federal capital Abuja, which Tinubu managed to achieve.

"Tinubu, Bola Ahmed, of the APC, having satisfied the requirements of the law, is hereby declared the winner and is returned elected," INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu said on Wednesday morning.

Nigeria ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu wins election

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak congratulated Tinubu later on Wednesday, writing on Twitter: "I look forward to working together to grow our security and trade ties, opening up opportunities for businesses and creating prosperity in both our countries."

The US State Department said it "congratulates the people of Nigeria," on the election.

Tinubu's challengers to contest outcome

Abubakar and Peter Obi, rejected the result as fraudulent.

"The results being declared at the National Collation Center have been heavily doctored and manipulated and do not reflect the wishes of Nigerians expressed at the polls," they said in a joint statement. 

"The purported results did not meet the minimum criteria of a transparent, free, and fair election," said Obi's running mate, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed added.

"We will go to court," he said while urging supporters to "remain peaceful and calm."

The INEC has rejected these allegations. Candidates who want to contest the election have 21 days following the announcement of results to bring their case to the courts.

What is the president-elect promising to do for Nigeria?

Voting in Africa's largest democracy was largely peaceful but plagued by long delays at many polling stations, which contributed to the slow release of results over several days.

International observers, including from the EU, noted major logistical problems and a lack of transparency from the INEC.

Political analyst Dapo Oyewole, a former Nigerian government advisor who is now a fellow at the London School of Economics specialized in African democracies, said legal challenges are "very normal" in Nigerian politics.

"We must remember this is the largest democratic experiment on the African continent," he told DW.

Oyewole said now that world leaders have started congratulating Tinubu, he is expected to proceed with setting up his government and prepare for inauguration.

Outgoing President Buhari urged opposition parties to seek peaceful means to resolve address their concerns. "That is not to say the exercise was without fault," Buhari said on Twitter. 

Tinubu called on his rivals and their supporters to "join hands" with him.

Who is Bola Tinubu?

Tinubu was the governor of Lagos State from 1999 until 2007.

Since then, he has picked every subsequent winning candidate to run the tiny state that is home to one of Africa's biggest cities, earning him a reputation as a political "godfather."

The biography on his campaign website says he was born in Lagos in 1952 to a Muslim Yoruba family.

In the 1970s, he studied in the United States while working as a dishwasher, taxi driver and night guard.

After that, he returned to Nigeria to work in the oil industry.

'We anchor well under President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu'

Tinubu has at times appeared frail and with slurred speech on the campaign trail, but he has repeatedly dismissed any concerns about his health.

Political analyst Oyewole said Tinubu's biggest challenge will be to unify a divided nation.

"It's a hotly contested position, but I assure you it is one of the most challenging jobs you could ever have," he told DW.

"200 million people, over 2,000 different ethnic groups. Governing such a diverse polity with histories of ethnic and religious rivalry — it's no small challenge."

zc/jsi (AFP, Reuters)