What the Nigerian Election Portends for the Opposition

“Nigeria’s ruling party candidate, Bola Tinubu, was declared president-elect of Africa’s most populous nation in the early hours of March 1 after a weekend election that the main opposition parties have disputed.” (Reuters various)

The two major opposition parties face a rough ride ahead as the renewed incumbent APC government may treat a flawed election as an unequivocal mandate. The former Lagos governor, Tinubu, received 37 percent of the popular vote compared to 29 percent for Atiku Abubakar and 25 percent for Peter Obi. Both candidates have announced that court actions will be initiated.

The International election observer missions gave the the new president no particular reason not to. The forty high powered observers in the NDI/IRI mission said that the election did not meet the expectations Nigerians expected given the millions of dollars spent on the Independent National Election Commission.

“The mission notes that despite the much-needed reforms to the The Electoral Act 2022, the election fell well short of Nigerian citizens’ reasonable expectations. Logistical challenges and multiple incidents of political violence overshadowed the electoral process and impeded a substantial number of voters from participating. Ongoing currency and fuel shortages also imposed excessive burdens on voters and election officials, and Nigerian marginalized groups, especially women, continue to face barriers to seeking and obtaining political office.”

The European Union observation mission took a stronger position.

A legitimate opposition creates the conflict of competition and ushering in and out ideas, policies, and leaders. Accountability in short. The Nigerian opposition parties have legitimate grievances about the conduct of the election. As they pursue legal remedies, they should also consider the parliamentary challenge ahead.