The Speaker
Saturday, 25 May 2024 – 00:54

Nigeria Elections Won by Bola Tinubu

Elections were held in Nigeria last Saturday, a process which was marred in controversy. Bola Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos state, won the election under the banner of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) whilst his rival Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came second.

The APC and PDP have formed a duopoly in Nigerian politics, meaning the rise of Peter Obi and the obscure Labour Party has excited mainly young, urban centred Nigerians sick of what they perceive as the endemic corruption and gerontocracy in a country where roughly 70% of the population is under 30. A passionate, largely social media based movement, known as the OBIdients, sprung up around Obi and his candidacy as young people felt invigorated by Obi and his promises of tackling the myriad economic and social problems that envelop Nigeria.

Allegations of corruption have flown from both Abubakar and Obi, who have vowed to challenge the results in Nigeria’s highest court. Technical problems marred the process, with a new electronic transmission system, enabling results to be uploaded from polling stations in ‘real time’, failing. Many voters endured lengthy waits, having to queue overnight into Sunday in order to cast their vote. Violence against voters has also been an issue, with cases of armed men attacking polling stations and taking ballot boxes. In this sort of context, it is not difficult to see why the two losing candidates may challenge the legitimacy of the election results.

Nigeria itself is deeply divided along ethnic and religious lines. It should be borne in mind that Nigeria is a creation of the British Empire and that the region was previously a collection of different kingdoms, city-states and empires who have their own history of both conflict and collaboration with each other. In essence, the many previously independent ethnicities of modern-day Nigeria were forced into one political unit by British colonial administrators, who did not care about the tension and violence that this could create.

As a rough approximation, the three dominant ethnic groups in Nigeria are the Igbo in the south-east, the Yoruba in the south-west and the Hausa in the north of the country. Christianity and Islam are also divided on the north-south basis, with Christianity more prevalent in the south and Islam more concentrated in the north, although of course this is a generalisation. Religious and ethnic conflict has shaped Nigeria and its politics, and politicians often use ethnicity and religion to mobilise their support and enhance their own power and wealth.

These elections were held in a context of political and economic issues. Unemployment and poverty deeply affect the Nigerian population, with 4 in 10 living below the poverty line. Many people in Nigeria, especially in the north the the country, lack access to basic infrastructure such as water, electricity and sanitation. Violence also rocks the country; the use of so-called political thugs, in order to intimidate voters, is common on election days. Kidnappings are a constant worry for many with groups of armed men taking hostages in exchange for ransoms and other demands.

With the controversy surrounding the results of the elections and the losing candidates not indicating that they are willing to accept the result, it is safe to say that there is still yet more uncertainty ahead for the country.

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