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On 18 March, following a one-week delay by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to enable it to comply with a Court of Appeal judgement, Nigerians returned to the polls to cast their ballots in governorship and state house of assembly elections. Voters in 28 states had the chance to elect new, or re-elect existing, governors in the March 18th 2023 vote, with the remaining eight states operating off-cycle processes, three of which are scheduled to take place later this year.  This is a summary of the report of the Election Analysis Centre of the Centre for Democracy and Development on the elections.

Miraculously, the election of Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) as the next president was uniquely different from how the past three and current presidents became number one citizens. President Olusegun Obasanjo did not plan or dream of becoming Nigerian president before he was overwhelmed and persuaded to become PDP flag bearer and won the election in 1999. He garnered 18 million votes to beat his close rival, Chief Olu Falae who contested under a joined ticket of AD-APP. 

In the Nigerian social media space, battles are fought 24/7. Politically, those who stand with President Muhammadu Buhari are at daggers drawn with those who think the apostle of “change” should be changed. Those who want Buhari to give way are also rooting for their various heroes. Muslims and Christians do not see eyeball to eyeball while at the same time contending with intra-religious quarrels.

In Nigeria, tension, apprehension, anxiety, and uncertainty enveloped the nation few days after the 25th February 2023 presidential election. On 23rd February, two days before D-day, I was on a trip to Kano from Zaria and found myself driving in the campaign train of one of the four leading political parties. A journey of one and a half hours took me four hours with all my maneuvers and knowledge of alternative routes. The mammoth crowd of youth, elderly and women campaigners shouting and cursing with euphoria made the scene look like a war zone.  No one was talking about any political party agenda of good governance, economic emancipation, illiteracy eradication and the like. It was simply a show of political force with rented and other crowds to outwit other parties. That scenario was replicated in almost every nook and cranny of Nigeria in the name of political party campaigns from a few months to few days before the election. The scene created tautness and nervousness among the electorate while eroding hopes for a glorious Nigeria. With this scenario among the lower class of Nigerians, the political elites were spiritedly undoing each other in the spirit of “either I or my stooge get political power by any means or no one gets it”.  Right from the parties’ primaries, Nigerian politicians showed their true colors as each one of them was pursuing personal and primordial interests above that of the nation. Delegates of the two major parties were transported, fed, camped, and teleguided on whom to vote for a handsome price in hard currencies.

My big story this week is that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reversed itself, saying that there is no winner in the February 25 National Assembly elections in Doguwa and Tudun Wada federal constituency of Kano State. It would be recalled that INEC had earlier announced Hon. Alhassan Doguwa, incumbent Member representing the federal constituency and Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, who contested on the All Progressives Congress (APC) platform, as winner of the election. After reviewing the facts of the matter, INEC on Tuesday, removed Doguwa’s name from the list of Reps-elect, attributing the development to irregularities in the electoral exercise. The commission had said he was declared winner of the election by the Returning Officer under duress.

I am not speaking of, nor would I dwell on, how he brought back the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the brink of disintegration two years ago. No, everyone knows that. Everybody is aware of how he stabilised the party and made it grow in numbers. He attracted the grassroots, who trooped into the party in numbers as well as the high and mighty who could make things happen.

The third truth about the February 23 election is that the leadership of INEC is guilty as charged for eroding the credibility of the election by proposing an integrity test for the elections – INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) and failing to deliver on it. The main technology innovation, BVAS, would ensure that only those eligible to vote participate and additional “votes” cannot be added subsequently. Recalling the 2019 debates, there cannot be fabricated votes subtracted or added by any INEC server. At the end of voting in each polling unit, the results would be counted in the presence of voters and written into the poster EC 60E which will be posted on the wall. It is this result that was to be captured through a scan and sent through BVAS directly to the INEC viewing portal that all citizens and voters can see live. This transparency means everyone will be seeing the results as they come in and citizens, candidates and parties can cross check that the results on the portal reflect what was compiled at the polling unit. Citizens would have therefore all participated in confirming that the portal results replicate what was counted at the polling units. The IReV component of the integrity test failed and therefore the credibility of the election was lost using the definition of the integrity test crafted by INEC itself. This failure for me is really catastrophic because it created the basis for loss of confidence of citizens in INEC and its processes.

There are 18 presidential candidates, out of which we have the “big four”, among whom we expect the next president of Nigeria to emerge. They are Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Gregory Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).

Tomorrow is the big day when for the seventh election since the return to democracy, more than 93 million Nigerians are registered to vote. It is likely to be a closely contested race with four candidates – Ahmed Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) being the front runners.