The Truth Behind Nigeria’s 2023 Presidential Election
The results of Nigeria‘s 2023 presidential election have been marred by controversy, with opposition parties disputing the election result and claiming electoral fraud. While some local and international media have echoed these sentiments, there is evidence to suggest that the election was conducted fairly and without major incident. This editorial will explore the highs and lows of the election, and present an unbiased and informed view of what happened.
The President-elect and the All Progressives Congress
The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bola Tinubu, was announced winner of the election with 37% of the votes, defeating Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP). However, the opposition has refused to concede defeat and has launched a formal challenge of the results in court, citing electoral fraud as a reason for their challenge.
The Role of the Independent National Electoral Commission
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been accused of casting doubt on the credibility of the election due to its failure to upload screenshots of polling station results to a web portal created for this purpose. INEC has explained that technical glitches hindered it from uploading the results to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV), but has since published over 90% of the results. Despite these explanations, opposition politicians have questioned INEC’s interpretation of the law on the national spread of winning results.
The Views of Local and International Observers
Many media organizations and international observers have corroborated some of the opposition’s claims of lapses in the conduct of the election. For example, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) identified several challenges that it observed, including late arrival of INEC officials and ballot materials, malfunctioning of the biometric voter accreditation system (BVAS) machines, limited or non-transmission of results from polling units, insecurity at some polling units, including violent attacks on voters and officials, and voters’ intimidation, snatching, and destruction of voting materials.
The Perception of the Election by Voters
The NBA noted that despite these observations, about 92% of the voters it interviewed said they were either “somewhat satisfied” or “excellently satisfied” with the conduct of the polls. While some voters have alleged discrepancies between what they witnessed as votes that were collated at polling units on Election Day and what was published on the result portal by INEC, such observations are not widespread.
The Role of Technological Solutions
One factor that may have contributed to a peaceful and fair election is the deployment of technological solutions, such as the bi-modal voter accreditation system (BVAS), which has firmly ousted the use of crude force in rigging elections. Voters can now snap and share declared results by phone, which has helped to strengthen transparency and contain the collation of fictitious figures.
The Leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari
The other critical factor appears to be the insistence of President Muhammadu Buhari that the elections must be free, fair, and credible. President Buhari not only rejected any role suggested to him in the nomination of the APC standard-bearer, but some of his decisions and policies were also celebrated by the opposition under the assumption that they were targeted at stopping Mr. Tinubu. This election should be taken as another step forward in Nigeria’s democratic journey.
While the 2023 presidential election in Nigeria was not without its flaws, the evidence suggests that it was conducted fairly and without major incident. The deployment of technological solutions and the leadership of President Buhari have contributed to a peaceful and credible election. Any disputes arising from the election should be addressed through the established judicial process, and the election should be remembered as a step forward in Nigeria’s democratic journey.