Abuja, Mar. 1 (BNA): Newly elected Nigerian President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday defended the integrity of the national elections he won and called on citizens to unite around him after a bitter row over the results, which opposition parties said were flawed.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said Tinubu garnered 8.79 million votes in the weekend polls, ahead of main opposition challenger Atiku Abubakar who received 6.98 million votes. Peter Opie, an outsider popular with younger, more educated urban voters, received 6.1 million votes.
A candidate can win the Nigerian elections by getting more votes than his rivals, provided that he gets 25% of the vote in at least two-thirds of the 36 states and the federal capital Abuja, which is what Tinubu did, according to Reuters.
“I am very happy to be elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Tinubu said in Abuja. “This is a serious mandate. I hereby accept it.”
Nigeria’s election was supposed to be its fairest and most open competition yet. But the electoral process ran into problems, due to new technology that did not work well and seemed to overwhelm Nigeria’s inadequate communications network.
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INEC promised to upload results from each polling unit to its website in real time, but most units were unable to do so immediately, undermining confidence in the process.
Thousands of results still to load.
Because of these failures, the main opposition parties of Atiku and Obi dismissed the results as fraudulent.
“I commend the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for running a credible election, no matter what anyone says,” said Tinubu. “The reported lapses were relatively few in number and were not significant in affecting the final outcome of the election.”
Tinubu now faces a long list of national problems, including an Islamist insurgency in the northeast, armed attacks, killings and kidnappings, conflict between herders and farmers, shortages of cash, fuel and power, and entrenched corruption.
President Muhammadu Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), congratulated his successor.
“Elected by the people, he is the best person for the job,” he said in a statement. “I will now work with him and his team to ensure an orderly handover of power.”
Uploading results from polling stations directly to the web is not a legal requirement, but it does mean that results must be compiled manually within state and local district counting centers as in previous polls, a reversal from a policy that was intended to improve transparency.
Observer missions have criticized this as the result of poor planning.
As governor of Lagos, Tinubu has won praise for partially fixing some of the cities problems, including reducing violent crime, waste collection, and traffic.
Yet the 70-year-old appeared vulnerable at times in public, delivering speeches, answering questions with clichés, and skipping many campaign events, causing some to question his effectiveness or dynamism as a leader.