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Ruling party’s Tinubu enjoys undeniable lead in Nigeria election

Bola Tinubu of Nigeria’s All Progressives Congress (APC) ruling party enjoys an unassailable lead in a glitchy presidential election held over the weekend, as shown by Reuters Tuesday tally of provisional results from all 36 states and the federal capital Abuja.

It is ever more likely that outgoing president Muhammadu Buhari’s successor would be Bola
Tinubu – an APC colleague and former Lagos governor. Afternoon Tuesday tally by Reuters showed Tinubu indisputably lead with about 35 percent of the vote, or 8.2 million votes, followed by Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who took a 30 percent share, or 6.9 million votes.

Popular with the youth and educated voters, wild-card candidate Peter Obi of the Labour Party got 26 percent of the vote or about 6.1 million votes.

In line with Nigerian electoral law, a candidate can win by a simple majority, provided they garnered 25 percent of the vote in at least two-thirds of the 36 states and Abuja. Tinubu has already managed to tick off these conditions.

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Challenges ahead

The former Lagos governor’s likely victory extends the APC’s grip on power in Africa’s top oil producer and most populous nation. The future for Tinubu is all but rosy.

Nigeria has been in a fierce fight with Islamist insurgencies in the northeast, armed attacks, killings and kidnappings coupled with human trafficking, a conflict between livestock herders and farmers, not to mention cash, fuel, and power shortages, and perennial corruption that opponents say Buhari’s party has failed to curtail, in spite promises to do so.

The ire of the population has been fueled by a botched currency exchange.

The election itself has already become a bone of contention due to slews of irregularities that involved faulty uploads of cast votes by collation centers and, in general, the introduction of new technology by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The PDP and the Labour Party lambasted the results on Tuesday due to the shortcomings and called on the INEC’s chairman Mahmood Yakubu to step down.

“The results being declared at the National Collation center have been heavily doctored and manipulated and do not reflect the wishes of Nigerians expressed at the polls,” they said in a joint statement.

INEC rejected the call, replying that “there are laid down procedures for aggrieved parties or candidates to follow when they are dissatisfied about the outcome of an election. Such procedures do not include calling on the INEC Chairman to resign or for the election to be canceled.”

A popular oldtimer

Tinubu drummed up support riding on the wave of his two terms as Lagos state governor at the turn of the century. At that time, he managed to reduce violent crime, improve the city’s traffic jams and clean up trash.

Still, regardless of his penchant for bouncing to music played during his election rallies, the septuagenarian has sometimes appeared frail, slurring his speech and offering platitudes instead of constructive answers. He also happened to skip several campaign events, leaving some to doubt how effective he would be.

In the capital Abuja, the INEC had said it would resume collating results at 9 p.m. (2000 GMT) and may declare a winner overnight.

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