The counting of the presidential and parliamentary elections held on Saturday in Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa and one of the most important on the continent, is proceeding slowly and amidst various protests. According to the first official data, the leading candidate is Bola Tinubu of the Congress of All Progressives (APC), the party of outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari. However, the country’s main opposition parties, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labor Party, are contesting the counts, arguing that the electronic system for transmitting results used for the first time in Saturday’s election was used not very transparent.
At present, the results of only 13 of the 36 states of Nigeria, which has 213 million inhabitants and is a federal republic, in which the president is both head of state and government, have been officially certified. Based on partial results, Tinubu won in six states, garnering 44 percent of the vote, while PDP candidate Atiku Abubakar won in four, garnering 33 percent. Peter Obi, expressed by the Labor Party and considered the most interesting candidate of these elections, won in three states, including that of Lagos, the main economic center of Nigeria, as well as the most populous city in the country, where Tinubu was historically the most in sight. However, he is stuck at 18 percent nationally.
During the voting process, technical problems occurred in many polling stations which prevented the result of the vote expressed by voters from being transmitted as planned to the website of the National Electoral Commission (INEC), the independent body that deals with elections in Nigeria. In several cases, however, voters reported that tellers had refused to upload their ballot to the INEC website: a PDP official denounced fraud in the electoral process, accusing the APC of making deals with the electoral commission, while the Labor Party asked for the counts to be suspended and for the elections to be annulled, proposing to repeat them.
While acknowledging some technical inconveniences, which it attributed in some cases to the lack of internet, the INEC denied that there were any irregularities in the process of collecting the votes and announced that the counting will proceed regularly.
With the next counts, however, things could change a lot. There is still a lack of votes from several states in the north of the country, an area predominantly inhabited by Muslims, who tend to vote for candidates who come from there, such as Abubakar. But most of the states in the south-east are also missing, which instead are inhabited mostly by Christians, such as Obi, who also has the support of a large part of the younger population (70 percent of Nigerians are under 30 and the average age is 18 years).
In Nigeria, to win elections in the first round one must not only get more votes than the other candidates, but it is also necessary to have at least 25 percent of the preferences in two thirds of the country’s 36 states and in the territory of the capital Abuja. If none of the candidates make it, there will be a runoff within 21 days: it would be the first time in the history of the country.
– Read also: Religious divisions affecting elections in Nigeria
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