Nigeria’s Presidential Election Contested

Written by Osetemega Iribiri

March 5, 2023

On Wednesday March 1st, Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling APC, winner of the 2023 presidential elections. Constitutionally, the winner is expected to garner 25% of votes in at least twenty-four (24) states and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. Tinubu got 25% of votes in 30 states with 8,794,726 votes (37% of votes cast); Atiku Abubakar of the PDP came second with 6,984,520 votes (29% of votes cast); Peter Obi of LP came third with 6,101,533 votes (25% of votes cast); and Rabiu Kwankwaso came fourth with 1,496,687 votes (6% of votes cast).

The presidential election was not the only election conducted on March 1st. The nation also voted members into its two federal legislative houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The APC won majority seats in the Senate but is yet to gain majority seats in the House of Representatives.

This election is peculiar for various reasons. First, the top four presidential candidates each won in at least one state. Nigeria’s political elections are usually dominated by two political parties; it is a considerable change of dynamics seeing other political parties rise to challenge the popular parties. Secondly, it is the first time in Nigeria’s election that a third party has had significant popularity and votes. Also, the Labour Party (LP) had the majority votes in Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial hub, which is both exceptional and impressive.

There are, however, lessons to be learned from this election. First, the power of the electorate. In a democratic system, the highest office should be the citizens. Nigeria had otherwise seen the dominance of the APC and PDP in its political scene. However, with the rise of LP’s Peter Obi, the electorates, especially the youth and first-time voters, saw the power of their votes. This was especially notable in the overturn of the ruling APC in Lagos. The second lesson is the need for collaboration. Abubakar, Obi, and Kwankwaso all belonged to PDP until last year. If they had remained together, they would have leveraged each other’s influence to defeat Tinubu. A united PDP could have leveraged the electorates’ weariness of economic hardships and inflation, currency scarcity, and widespread insecurity experienced under the administration of the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC.

Aside from internal party policies, the failure of INEC to upload the results of elections in the over 170,000 polling units onto a central server (IReV) as required by law reduced voter confidence. The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Nigeria stated that “INEC lacked efficient planning and transparency during critical stages of the electoral process, while on election day trust in INEC was seen to further reduce due to delayed polling processes and information gaps related to much anticipated access to results on its Results Viewing Portal (IReV).” The election was characterized by allegations of rigging, intimidation, violence, and unpreparedness of the INEC officials. The PDP and LP presidential candidates have challenged the authenticity of the election results and called for a re-run.

This Saturday, Nigerians will go to the polls again to vote for their governors and state legislators. It is hoped that the INEC will perform better and the process will be without violence. A host of other African countries also have their elections this year, such as Sierra Leone (June), Zimbabwe (July), and Gabon (August). It is hoped that they, especially their younger generations, will learn a thing or two from Nigeria’s elections.

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