Incumbent president Buhari wins election; opposition challenges result

The voter turnout of 35.7% is less than the 44% in 2015; incumbent president doubles his electoral support in five states in southeastern Nigeria

February 27, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Nigerian presidential election 2019
Buhari is the second president to be re-elected, ever since democracy was restored in 1999. (Photo: Leadership)

Incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress has won a second term in the presidential elections held in Nigeria on February 23 and 24. This marks the second time since democracy was restored in 1999 that any president has won a second term.

Only 35.7% of the 82,344,107 registered voters cast their votes, which was lesser than the 44% turnout in 2015 elections. According to the statement by Nigeria’s Independent National Election Commission (INEC), Buhari won a total of 15,191,847 votes, defeating his primary opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party who garnered 11,262,978 votes.

Buhari won in 19 out of the 36 states and met the requirement of having at least 25% of the votes in at least 24 states. Abubakar won in 17 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) within which the capital city is located.

Well before the final results were announced, yesterday, when the results from the initial stages of vote counting gave Buhari a lead over Abubakar, the PDP had already alleged electoral manipulations.

PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, had stated that results announced by the INEC was “incorrect and totally unacceptable”, because IT server of INEC was “hacked by agents of the APC to manipulate result”.

Pointing out that this criticism was levelled by the same people who were “saying that Atiku should be announced [as winner] even before the collation of the results started”, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, had retorted, “APC is not reacting now. Campaign has stopped. Election has been held. The next thing is to wait for the results. They are doing their best to truncate the process. But they will not succeed.”

The attempts made by PDP member and former Aviation Minister, Osita Chidoka, to convince INEC to not announce results on the grounds of vote manipulation did not yield results. He justified his call to abort the results announcement on grounds that the cancellation of 5.1 million votes had rendered the election results unjustifiable because it exceeded the 3.9 million votes by which Buhari won.

However, INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu insisted that the number of votes cancelled was not large enough to have made a difference. “He said they are ‘deserved cancelled votes’ as in most areas the smart card readers were deliberately ‘circumvented’,” Daily Trust reported.

The final results that were announced revealed that except Adamawa and Taraba, Buhari had won all the Northwest and Northeastern states, which were his traditional strongholds. The inroads that Buhari had made among voters in the five southeastern states in the previous elections he won in 2015 was consolidated further in this election. The number of votes he won in these five states more than doubled from 198,248 in 2015 to 403,958 votes in 2019.  

After the final results were announced, Abubakar, a wealthy businessman who had vowed to further liberalize the economy and privatize the state-owned oil sector if victorious, has announced that he does not regard the election as “free and fair”, adding, “I hereby reject the result of the February 23, 2019 sham election and will be challenging it in court.”