Elections in Nigeria: the United States recognized the victory of Bola Tinubu and the European Union asked the opposition to avoid violence

Bola Tinubu Nigeria President
Bola Tinubu, of the All Progressives Congress, meets with supporters at the Party's campaign headquarters after winning the presidential elections in Abuja, Nigeria, Wednesday, March 1, 2023. Election officials declared ruling party candidate Tinubu the winner of Nigeria's presidential election with the two leading opposition candidates already demanding a re-vote in Africa's most populous nation. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

The United States on Wednesday recognized Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s victory in Nigeria‘s hard-fought presidential election and urged the opposition to channel their allegations of fraud through legal channels without resorting to violence.

The United States congratulates the President-elect of Nigeria on the results of the February 25 presidential election. These competitive elections represent a new period for Nigerian politics and democracy,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a press conference.

In turn, Price called on candidates and opposition supporters not to “resort to violence or inflammatory rhetoric at this critical time” and instead encouraged anyone “who wishes to challenge the result” to use the existing mechanisms “for the resolution of electoral disputes”.

The official said he understands the “frustration of Nigerians and some parties with the way and manner in which the process unfolded” and some technical problems on election day.

For this reason, he assured that the United States would join other international observers to “improve the aspects that require more attention in view of the March 11 gubernatorial elections.”

The Foreign Affairs spokesman urged the government security forces, political actors and all citizens to respect “the fundamental role of the media”, after the numerous attacks on journalists during the elections, and to ” guarantee accountability” for any harmful act against them.

The EU called for calm

The European Union reiterated this Wednesday the call for calm in Nigeria after declaring the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (INEC) the victory of Bola Tinubu, the government candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“The main opposition parties have stated that they plan to challenge the results. Although we recognize the operational failures, we call on all parties to continue to uphold their commitments to a peaceful process after the announcement of the results,” a community spokesperson told Europa Press.

Faced with the request of the main opposition parties in Nigeria for the elections to be repeated and the president of the INEC removed, European diplomacy has stressed that “any dispute must be settled through the established legal channels”, without going into assessing the demand of these formations.

In any case, the EU maintains its mission on the ground which continues its electoral observation work once the results have been announced. “We recognize the strong participation of civil society in the process,” said the spokesperson, while explaining that the observers carry out a rapid recount process, “an important measure to ensure the integrity of the election result”.

Tinubu has thanked the population after his victory and has affirmed that the population has gone to the polls to “vote in favor of a better nation and with more hope”. “I thank you for your participation and dedication to our democracy,” he said.

The president-elect has applauded the electoral commission for “leading free and fair elections” and has highlighted that “the lapses that took place have been relatively few in number and have not affected the final results.”

However, in its preliminary report, the European electoral observation mission has already pointed out the lack of transparency in the elections and has pointed directly to the role of the CNEI. Specifically, the document points out the lack of security at polling stations, as well as the shortage of new naira bills and fuel during election day.

The UN had asked this Tuesday to remain calm while the electoral process in Nigeria concluded and, particularly, to avoid “conduct such as hate speech, misinformation or incitement to violence” by the actors involved.

Tinubu, 70, obtained 36% of the vote (8.79 million votes), according to what the president of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmud Yakubu, said on Wednesday.

In a statement from the Secretary General’s spokesman, the UN said that at this time it is convenient to refrain “from conduct that can undermine the electoral process, and eventually peace and stability in Nigeria.”

Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the main opposition force, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), came in second with 29% of the vote (6.98 million). The third place was occupied by Peter Obi (61 years old), from the Labor Party (LP), who garnered 25% of the votes (6.1 million).

Of the almost 93.5 million registered voters, only 24.96 million Nigerians voted on a day without serious incidents but marked by delays in the opening of numerous polling stations, according to INEC figures.