March, 26

How young Nigerians are grieving election loss

Many young Nigerians are grieving the loss of the 2023 presidential election. They had high hopes for the election, and felt that it was an opportunity for change. However, Bola Tinubu's victory has dashed those hopes.

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How young Nigerians are grieving election loss
A demonstrator holds two Nigerian flags as he and others accusing the election commission of irregularities and disenfranchising voters make a protest in Abuja, Nigeria, © Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Although Nigeria’s electoral commission declared ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu as the winner of the 2023 presidential election, many young voters are grieving the loss. Young people had high hopes for the election, and felt that it was an opportunity for change. However, Tinubu’s victory has dashed those hopes.

Many young people are now feeling a sense of grief and loss. They had invested so much hope in the election, and now they feel like they have lost something. This feeling is compounded by the fact that Tinubu is seen as a symbol of the old guard, and his victory represents a continuation of the status quo.

According to the Independent National Electoral Commission, Bola Tinubu won the Nigerian presidential election, beating out Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar. It was a significant victory for Tinubu, who has been a key political figure in the country for many years but he is seen as a strong leader and has a lot of support from Nigerians. It will be interesting to see how he runs the country and what policies he implements.

INEC officially announced that, Olusegun Tinubu won the presidency with 8.7 million votes, beating out 17 other candidates, including former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who garnered 6.9 million votes, and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, who got 6.1 million votes. Tinubu’s victory marks a significant milestone in Nigerian history, as he is the first president to be elected from the Yoruba ethnic group.

The Pathway to victory

How young Nigerians are grieving election loss
Demonstrators accusing the election commission of irregularities and disenfranchising voters protest in Abuja, Nigeria (Ben Curtis/AP)

The results of the Nigerian presidential election show that Tinubu had the lowest percentage of votes by a winning presidential candidate since the return to democracy in 1999. This was not unexpected, as it was a three-horse race. Tinubu’s path to victory was also slim at the outset because, as a Muslim from the southwest, he picked a fellow Muslim from the north as his running mate, thereby sacrificing the Christian vote.

Atiku’s campaign strategy was to try and win support from both the Muslim north and the Christian south. This was a departure from his party’s traditional voting base, which was primarily in the south. Atiku is a Muslim northerner, and he hoped that this would give him an advantage in winning over both Muslim and Christian voters. However, ultimately he was unsuccessful in this bid, and lost the election.

However, the entry of southern Christian Peter Obi of the Labour Party complicated matters for the PDP candidate. Obi is a popular figure in the south, and his presence in the race means that the PDP candidate will have to work hard to win support in that region. Additionally, Obi’s candidacy could split the vote in the south, which would benefit the PDP candidate.

Tinubu won all the states in the southwest where he comes from, except Lagos, his kingdom. He also picked seven of the 19 northern states of Borno, Jigawa, Zamfara, Benue, Kogi, Kwara and Niger. He won one Christian majority state in the south – Rivers – with the help of renegade PDP Governor Nyesom Wike, in the most controversial manner.

Tinubu’s performance in the election was impressive, to say the least. He won a total of 27 states, including his home turf of the southwest and the key battleground state of Rivers.

Atiku won in Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Kaduna, Gombe, Yobe, Bauchi, Adamawa and Taraba states all in the north. He also picked three southern states – Osun, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa.

Obi won in almost every Christian majority state in the south and had a good showing in the Christian parts of the north. He picked Edo, Cross River, Delta, Lagos, Plateau, Imo, Ebonyi, Nasarawa, Anambra, Abia, Enugu and Abuja, the nation’s capital while Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso won Kano State.

Although Tinubu may not have won the majority of states, voting patterns show that he was a close second in almost every state he didn’t win. This indicates that he is a popular figure with a broad base of support. Despite not winning the election, Tinubu’s strong showing indicates that he is a force to be reckoned with in Nigerian politics.

Opposition parties rejected the results

How young Nigerians are grieving election loss
A police truck drives past demonstrators in Abuja accusing the election commission of irregularities and disenfranchising voters (Ben Curtis/AP)

However, both the Labour Party and the PDP rejected the Nigerian presidential election result of the poll. The PDP’s Atiku Abubakar said he had evidence of “massive” irregularities and vowed to challenge the election in court. The Labour Party’s candidate, Kingsley Moghalu, said he would not accept the results “under any circumstances”.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to halt further announcements of results from the 2019 general elections. The party’s rejection is based on the delay by the INEC in uploading the results from the field onto the result viewing portal.

The chairman of INEC may claim ignorance, but he cannot fold his hands and do nothing when he knows that the election process has been corrupted. The INEC had introduced a result viewing portal on which results would be seen just moments after voting, but this has not been the case. The APC demands that the INEC Chairman take responsibility and ensure that the results are released in a timely and transparent manner.

However, 24 hours after elections had been held, the INEC had failed to upload results from most polling units thereby causing fears that the results had been tampered with. Election observers had also criticised the INEC over the failure, but the commission claimed it had technological challenges.

The Labour Party and the PDP, as well as four other parties, subsequently staged a walkout at the national collation centre amid rumours that they might be heading to court to halt further announcements of the results.

At a joint press conference, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and Dr Yusuf Datti Ahmed, the vice-presidential candidates of the PDP and the Labour Party, respectively, rejected the results, insisting that the INEC chairman had been compromised.

Earlier, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who endorsed Obi months back, also questioned the credibility of the poll, accusing electoral officials of corrupting the process by failing to adhere to voting guidelines including the usage of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).

“The chairman of [the] INEC may claim ignorance, but he cannot fold his hands and do nothing when he knows that [the] election process has been corrupted and most of the results that are brought outside BVAS and server are not a true reflection of the will of Nigerians who have made their individual choice.

“At this stage, we do not need wittingly or unwittingly to set this country on fire with the greed, irresponsibility and unpatriotic act of those who allegedly gave money to [the] INEC officials for perversion and those who collected the blood money,” he said in a statement.

General Abdulsalami Abubakar, former head of state, who is also the chairman of the National Peace Committee, faulted the manual transmission of election results by the INEC as against the electronic transmission which it ought to be.

As tension began to build over reports that the opposition may want to scuttle the announcements, Tinubu approached a federal court in Kano seeking an order to bar anyone from doing so.

Sensing the rising tension, the electoral commission insisted on completing the announcement of results and declared Tinubu winner at midnight.

Tinubu extends hand of fellowship
Tinubu’s victory has been rejected by a large section of Nigerian youths on social media who described the election as a sham.

In his victory speech, the president-elect extended his hand of fellowship to his opponents and their supporters.

[…] none of the issues registered represent a challenge to the freeness and fairness of the elections

He said: “Whether you are Beatified, Atikulated, Obedient, Kwankwasiyya, or have any other political affiliation, you voted for a better, more hopeful nation and I thank you for your participation and dedication to our democracy.

“You decided to place your trust in the democratic vision of a Nigeria founded on shared prosperity and one nurtured by the ideals of unity, justice, peace and tolerance. Renewed hope has dawned in Nigeria.”

In his congratulatory message, President Muhammadu Buhari described Tinubu as the best candidate and termed the election as a plus for Africa, which has – in recent times – witnessed a string of coups.

Buhari also dismissed the complaints of the opposition saying: “There were technical problems with electronic transmission of the results. Of course, there will be areas that need work to bring further transparency and credibility to the voting procedure. However, none of the issues registered represent a challenge to the freeness and fairness of the elections.”

It is understandable that many young Nigerians are grieving the outcome of the election. They had high hopes for change, and Tinubu’s victory has dashed those hopes. While it is disappointing, it is important to remember that one election does not define a country or its people. There will be other opportunities for change in the future, and young Nigerians should continue to fight for what they believe in.

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