AFPPeople in Lagos read about the election results in the newspaper
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 14:55
Ellen van Gelder
Ellen van Gelder
After days of waiting, Bola Ahmed Tinubu was officially proclaimed as the new president of Nigeria early this morning. The fact that the final result came while Nigeria was still sleeping reinforces the feeling among many young people that the presidential elections at the beginning of this week were conducted under cover.
On social media, they call for resistance with hashtags like #protest and #revolutionnow. Tinubu, a member of the ruling party APC, knows that tensions are running high and preaches unity, but the country has never been so divided. The three main opposition parties say they will not accept the result.
The Nigerian elections were the most at stake since the end of the military dictatorship in 1999. Since that year, two parties have alternated at the top of the political agenda in the country with a population of some 220 million: the current governing party All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
But this time, with Peter Obi’s Labor Party, there was also a third party running for president. The youth rallied en masse behind the party. For the first time there was hope for real change and an end to the power of the old elite. The population in Nigeria is very young: 70 percent is under thirty.
Obi presented himself as frugal, anti-system and, as a young man in his sixties, is considerably younger than his main opponents, who are in their seventies. In the election, Obi came third with 6.1 million votes, not far behind Atiku Abubakar, who was the PDP’s sixth presidential candidate.
Suspicion about the final result has grown in recent days, because the results took a long time to arrive. The elections were last Saturday and were extended to Sunday in some places due to logistical problems and incidents of violence.
The election commission promised in advance that the results would come in quickly and transparently. Final results would be photographed at polling stations and that photo would be uploaded to the Electoral Commission’s server. That way everyone could watch. The fact that this took days to materialize gave the opposition parties the feeling that the governing party had manipulated the elections.
The opposition parties have already called today’s election a sham and demanded a new poll. But according to the electoral commission, everything went well and the opposition has to go to court if they have any objections.
Finger in the pie
That’s going to be difficult. Tinubu had good cards. It was difficult for the opposition to compete against the old elite. “It’s my turn,” was his election slogan. The accountant was governor of Lagos in the past and has had a big finger in politics for a long time. He also owns a well-oiled and financed political machine.
While many young people supported Obi in the cities and on social media, he was much less visible in other parts of the country. Tinubu was. A high turnout of many new young voters was also important to Obi. That seems to fail.
Supporters of Obi are calling for evidence of fraud to be collected by, among other things, taking pictures of results at polling stations and comparing them with the results of the election commission.
In any case, the presidential elections did cause a shift. Obi got the majority in important places, such as in Lagos. So Tinubu was once governor of that mega city. He hoped to get a lot of support there.
The new president has a difficult task. Under Tinubu’s predecessor Buhari, also of the APC party, Nigeria has slipped further and further in recent years. Both economically and in terms of security, because of jihadist violence and attacks by criminal gangs. In addition, Tinubu must get behind the youth, who see him as old and corrupt.
Those young people now have to move on in a chaotic country with little work. Some of Obi’s supporters are calling for resistance, others say they are keeping a cool head and want their movement to grow further in order to win the next presidential election.
The recent elections can only lead to even more young people becoming disillusioned, because they feel that they have been deprived of a fair chance.