Nigeria’s ruling party candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been declared winner of the weekend presidential election by the electoral commission after defeating two of his closest rivals.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, or INEC, which released the outcome early on Wednesday confirmed Tinubu passed the benchmark of 25 percent of votes in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states and capital.
Tinubu, candidate for All Progressives Congress (APC), won 8.8 million votes against 6.9 million for opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar and 6.1 million for Labour Party’s Peter Obi, according to results.
With President Muhammadu Buhari stepping down, many Nigerians hoped a clean vote would open the way to a leader able to tackle insecurity, ease economic malaise and manage poverty in the country.
The voting on Saturday was mostly peaceful but was troubled by long delays at many polling stations, while technical hitches disrupted the uploading of results to a central website, fuelling concerns over vote rigging.
Tinubu, 70, is a long-time political kingmaker, who ran on his record as Lagos state governor from 1999 to 2007. But during campaigning he faced questions over his health, past graft accusations, and ties to Buhari’s legacy.
The winning candidate has to garner the most votes nationally, but also score at least 25 percent in two-thirds of the states — a measure reflecting a country split between a mostly Muslim north and widely Christian south, as well as three main ethnic groups.
PDP and Labour on Monday called for the vote to be scrapped, and demanded a fresh election because of what they claimed was huge manipulation of votes.
One surprise result was Obi’s victory in Lagos, the state with the largest number of registered voters and the traditional bastion of APC’s Tinubu, known as the “Godfather of Lagos”.
Whoever replaces Buhari must quickly get to grips with Africa’s largest economy and top oil producer, which is beset by problems including a grinding militant fighting in the northeast and double-digit inflation.
Buhari, a former army general first elected in 2015, will step down after two terms in office.
Nearly 90 million Nigerians were eligible to vote, with almost 10 million new voters, many under the age of 34.
INEC introduced biometric voter identification technology for the first time at national level and the IReV central database for results to improve transparency.
Votes were tallied by hand at local polling stations, with images of result sheets uploaded online to INEC’s IReV.