Bola Tinubu, center, of the All Progressives Congress, celebrates with supporters at his campaign headquarters after winning the presidential election, in Abuja, Nigeria, on March 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerians woke up Wednesday to a new president. The candidate of the ruling party, Bola Tinubu, who was declared the winner of the elections during the early hours of Wednesday, thanked his supporters and called for reconciliation with his rivals, who have already demanded a repeat of the elections in the country. most populous in Africa.
The announcement made by the electoral authorities overnight is likely to lead to a legal challenge by his main opponents, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi. Abubakar also finished second in the last few elections in 2019 and later filed a lawsuit that was ultimately dismissed.
The two main opposition candidates had demanded a repeat of the elections on Tuesday, alleging that the delay in the publication of the results had given rise to irregularities. The ruling party, the Congress of All Progressives, called on the opposition to accept defeat and not cause trouble.
Tinubu received 37% of the vote, or about 8.8 million ballots, while his main rival, Abubakar, got 29% with about seven million. Obi finished third with 25%, around 6.1 million votes, according to results announced live on television by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The president-elect thanked his supporters in the capital Abuja after announcing his victory and struck a conciliatory tone in a message to his political opponents.
“I take this opportunity to ask the other aspirants to join together,” Tinubu declared. “This is the only nation we have. This is a country and we must build together.”
The announcement came just after 4:00 a.m., but celebrations at the ruling party’s general secretariat had already begun on Tuesday night, when Tinubu’s supporters gathered there in anticipation of his victory.
“None of the others match his record!” said Babafemi Akin as he enthused about the prospects for him to rule. “I’m sure he’ll do well.”
Tinubu, 70, is the former governor of Lagos state, but lost the state in Saturday’s poll to Obi, who drew a lot of young voters eager for change.
Parties have three weeks to appeal the results, but the election can only be invalidated if it is shown that the national electoral body did not fully comply with the law and acted in a way that could have changed the result.
Nigeria’s Supreme Court has never overturned a presidential election, although challenges are common, including by outgoing president Muhammadu Buhari.
These elections have been closely watched because the country is not only the largest economy in Africa, but also one of its main oil producers.
Associated Press journalists Taiwo Ajayi in Abuja, Nigeria; Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal, and Sam Mednick in Ouagadugu, Burkina Faso, contributed to this report.