On February 25, 2023, Nigeria held general elections to choose its president, vice president, and members of the Senate and House of Representatives. President Muhammadu Buhari, currently in office, is term-limited and was not eligible to run for a third term. Since the end of military control in 1999, this election was considered the closest.
The Respective Candidates attended debates before the elections to win the people over as they stated their manifestos and reminded Nigerians of the need for better governance as they all agreed that the present administration was working below standard as expected by the people.
The people seemed tired of the ruling party, which promised change from the last administration. Instead, they plunged the country further into debt and increased reports of corruption and disregard for the judiciary and the rule of law. Indeed, the people clamored for change and took it to the polls.
Masses turned out to register and collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC). Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission(INEC) assured the electorate that their vote would count as the electoral law passed gave power to implement the new initiative of the BVAS and IRev.
The Presidential Election was to be majorly contested by Four political parties with strong-force candidates as their flag-bearers. The ruling party, The All Progressive Congress(APC), in the absence of the incumbent president due to illegibility, had Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the flag-bearer and Kashim shettima as the Vice. On the other hand, the opposition Party, Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), selected Abubakar Atiku as its leading man and Ifeanyi Okowa as Vice. Peter Obi, the “People’s Favourite,” ran under the Platform of the Labour Party(LP) and had Yusuf Datti as his Vice. Another Force worthy of mention was Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso, who ran under the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and had Idahosa as his running mate.
On D-Day, The electorate came out in mass to exercise their franchise. There was optimism that a new dispensation for the better would soon be experienced, especially as the new electoral law emphasized clean, accessible, and fair election results.
But that wasn’t the case.
Reports of rigging and results manipulation rented the air and social media, as thuggery and rascalities were recorded on this day. Lives were lost in some parts of the country, and some candidates employed dubious means to achieve their aim. Social media was full of videos and pictorial shreds of evidence of the election results being tampered with.
Following Reports of illegal happenings in various polling units across the country, most of the political parties, notably LP and PDP, frowned upon these irregularities and decried reverting to the old ways of conducting elections in the country and the disregard of the use of the BVAS and IRev portals as earlier claimed by INEC. Accordingly, they rejected the collated results and asked the election’ governing body to cancel them.
But the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, wasn’t having any of it and proceeded with the process. In the end, after the results had all been collated and elections had been carried out in units that could not do so on the election day, He declared the APC candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the winner and President-Elect.
Following This announcement, many elder statesmen and Political juggernauts in the country have called out the whole process and described it as “shambolic,” to say the least. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Former Governor of Ondo State Bode George, and Pa Adebanjo of Afenifere, amongst others, have all heavily criticized the process of the elections that have been conducted and have joined a majority of the people to call for the cancellation of the results from the election as many do not see the President-elect as a worthy winner of the polls.
Labour Party’s Obi, PDP’s Atiku, and others have given press conferences, rejected the results, and filed a suit against INEC. The electorate will remain glued to and attentive to how that plays out in the coming months.
Meanwhile, The international community, notably UK, USA, and Ukraine, have congratulated the president-elect and reiterated their commitment to continue to partner with Nigeria in various capacities.
INEC will again be called into action on March 11 as the Governorship, State House of Assembly, and Local Government Elections will be held. The electorate will hope their failing hope is renewed in the country’s electoral process following the polls.
But before then, the question that will be on the minds of most of the masses is, “Were the election results a reflection of the people’s choice?” “Was the Win deserved, or was the conduct below par?.” Indeed, Interesting times are ahead for the country.