Nigeria, one of Africa’s largest countries, has a long history of political instability and conflicts that have significantly affected its socioeconomic growth. The electoral process is one of the main problems, characterized by irregularities and fraud. Despite efforts to improve it with the introduction of biometric voting systems, the 2023 presidential election saw new allegations of fraud, causing widespread resentment among political parties, citizens, and the international community.
The elections, concluded in February, left many Nigerians disillusioned as it was evident that the election had been manipulated in favor of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The presidential election is held every four years, with a four-year interval mandate, and four major political parties participated in the elections: the APC, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the Labor Party, and the National Popular Party of Nigeria (NNPP).
Who are the candidates?
Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a prominent Nigerian politician and former governor of Lagos State who currently serves as the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In 2018, he was accused of corruption for demanding a 15% cut from every contract awarded by the state government, which he denied. In 2020, he was also accused of owning the Lekki tollgate where security forces allegedly shot peaceful protesters during the #EndSARS protests against the SARS police unit, responsible for dozens of deaths under dubious circumstances.
Atiku Abubakar, former vice president of Nigeria, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, has been active in the country’s political opposition, especially under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in previous elections. In 2005, the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations accused Abubakar and his fourth wife, Jennifer Douglas, of laundering over $40 million in suspicious funds through offshore shell companies. In 2019, the Federal Government of Nigeria accused Abubakar of tax evasion and money laundering.
Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra State who served two terms from 2006 to 2014, is a successful businessman and investor with interests in banking, real estate, and factories. He has also been part of the country’s political opposition, especially under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in previous elections. In 2018, Peter Obi was accused of leaving a debt of over N60 billion ($156 million) to his successor, Willie Obiano, which he denied, stating that he left a surplus of over N75 billion ($195 million) in the state treasury. In 2020, a video appeared online allegedly showing Peter Obi verbally attacking a priest during an event in the church.
The APC, currently in power, has put the country in a state of disaster, with high poverty rates, and citizens describing the government as “hell on earth,” where most people have to beg for food to survive. Public officials are forced to retire without following proper procedures, and their salaries are reduced, while tuition fees are increased in some tertiary institutions.
People needed a change and were willing to come out in large numbers to support the candidates they believed in. The number of citizens who turned out to exercise their right to vote was unprecedented in Nigeria’s history. This is because people often feel that their votes do not matter due to electoral fraud. However, in the 2023 elections, voters were prepared for the worst and still ready to cast their vote.
Regarding fake videos and rumors during elections
In preparation for the 2023 Nigerian presidential elections, false news and viral videos were spread across social media. Rumors circulated on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and WhatsApp claimed, among other things, that the election result had already been decided beforehand and that voting would have no impact on the final results.
In January, a report by the BBC revealed how Nigerian politicians were secretly paying social media influencers up to 20 million Nigerian nairas (USD 43,000) and promising them government contracts and political appointments to spread disinformation about their opponents. According to the report, some of these influencers are also being recruited for “war rooms” to monitor the spread of fake news.
Finally, the Nigerian Electoral Commission announced that 70-year-old Bola Tinubu of the ruling APC party won the presidential election by obtaining 8.8 million votes, representing 36% of the total. His main rival, Atiku Abubakar of the opposition party, received 6.9 million votes (29%), while Peter Obi, the revelation candidate, got 6.1 million votes (25%). As Tinubu obtained more than 25% of the votes in two-thirds of the states, the electoral commission declared him the elected president of Nigeria without the need for a second round.
By Dadzie Ebenzer, from Kaduna, Nigeria.