Nigeria election: Atiku Abubaka rejects results as Buhari wins

Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari ‏

Nigeria’s main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the electoral result released by the country’s electoral commission accusing the ruling All Progressives’ Congress of manipulating the vote. The incumbent Pesident Muhammadu Buhari has been declared the winner with 56% of the vote.

With ballots from all 36 states counted, Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) garnered 15.2 million  votes against 11.3 million for his main rival, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The election turnout was 35.6 percent, the electoral commission said, which compared with 44% in the 2015 presidential election.

“Muhammadu Buhari of the APC, having satisfied the requirement of the law and scored the highest number of votes is hereby declared the winner,” Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), told election officials and reporters in the early hours of Wednesday.

Buhari won in 19 states – including the two most populous, Lagos and Kano – while Abubakar was victorious in 17.

However, PDP chair Uche Secondus called the count “incorrect and unacceptable”, alleging that data from voter card readers were manipulated. However, PDP has been accused of trying to “scuttle the polls” and prompt a constitutional crisis by the federal government.

“I’m not aware of any meeting of the PDP legal team, but I know there are concerns laid to the INEC [electoral commission] chairman , based on promises he made to Nigerians on the conduct of the elections,” Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP spokesman, said. “When he addresses those concerns, then we will know what to do.”

While delays and violence marred the run-up to Saturday’s polls, no independent observer has cited electoral fraud.

The election was delayed at the last minute by a week and, since it was held, 47 people have been killed, according to the monitoring organisation the Situation Room.

Reports of vote-buying, multiple failures with the card readers supposed to accredit voters and extremist attacks in the north east marred the election. Many polling stations opened late and, in some, voting continued on Sunday.

Shortly before the election, Buhari suspended the chief justice Walter Onnoghen, who heads the supreme court and would have ruled on any dispute over the results. The president’s move was widely criticised as a “calculated attempt to gain some electoral advantage” in the case of a legal challenge.

Adewunmi Emoruwa of The Election Network said the election fell short of expectations.

To win in the first round, the victor must get at least a quarter of the votes in two thirds of the states, plus an overall majority, and Buhari appeared to have won enough to avoid a runoff after the 76-year-old defeated his main rival, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, with a margin of nearly four million votes to win a second four-year term.

Mr Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) won in 19 of the 36 states while the PDP was victorious in 17 states and in the capital, Abuja, according to the electoral commission.

Buhari and Atiku are both northern Muslims in their 70s who have long been in politics. Buhari is seen by many as a strict, inflexible but personally incorruptible figure, while many hoped Atiku, a wealthy businessman and former vice-president, would enact policies to help boost Nigeria’s struggling economy.

Buhari’s popularity dropped over the course of his term, because of his perceived inability to deal fairly with government corruption – he was accused of largely targeting his opponents for prosecutions – and his failure to deal with the many threats facing Nigerians. The north-east region is especially dangerous, because Boko Haram and its offshoot Islamic State West Africa Province still wield considerable might.

It would be unusual for a presidential election to be won by a candidate not backed by a powerful cabal of former generals that includes former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida.