After four days of vote tallying, Nigeria has a new president in Bola Tinubu—the All Progressive Congress party candidate who campaigned on the slogan “it’s my turn.”
He is now faced with the task of making Nigeria a better place to live in, first by tackling the chronic cash crisis in the country after the introduction of new banknotes.
Official poll results indicate that the 70-year-old ‘political godfather’ won 36% of the vote. Former vice president Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party polled 29%, while Labour’s Peter Obi got 25% of the vote.
This has been Nigeria’s most tightly contested presidential elections with clamor for change playing a major role.
To win the presidency in Nigeria, a candidate is required to win the most votes overall, and also secure a minimum of 25% support in at least 24 out of 36 states in the country. This is designed to ensure that the winning candidate’s votes are a representation of the larger portion of the country amid the often political divisiveness between the Muslim north and the Christian south.
But the poll has been disputed. Even before Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) formally announced the results, opposition parties called for scrapping of the elections, which they termed a sham. They sought to have new elections organized. But INEC asked them to take their grievances to court.
The opposition candidates alleged manipulation of the results especially after INEC failed to upload results streaming in its viewing platform, IReV. In its defence for the slow updating of results in the IReV, INEC blamed technical glitches and assured the public that results transmission would be smooth.
Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo who backed the country’s youth choice Peter Obi, also claimed fraud in the elections, holding that the results had been doctored. He wants president Muhammadu Buhari to demand a review of the collation process.
Regarded in many political circles as a ‘kingmaker’, Tinubu, a former Lagos state governor helped his predecessor Muhammadu Buhari become president. In 2015 he described himself as a “talent hunter” who puts “talents into office”. He was vocal in the 1990s in fighting military rule, and was part of the leaders who returned Nigeria to democracy and elective politics in 1999.
Now, Tinubu, himself a trained accountant, will be hoping to follow into the footsteps of fellow accountant-president Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia in stabilizing the economy of Africa’s biggest oil exporter. It took Hichilema 10 months to make the Zambian kwacha the world’s top performing currency .
Amid rising inflation, a crumbling naira, systemic corruption, and insecurity, the new president must work harder than his predecessor to turn around the fortunes of the country, which was recently graylisted for money laundering and risks being blacklisted by the international financial community.