Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election statistically and overwhelmingly failed to represent the majority of Nigerian citizens—let alone voters—and instead, delivered a new All-Progressives Alliance President in Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The President-elect, who displayed many examples of his health problems during campaign, is expected to continue four years of policies of the corrupt, failed and outgoing Muhammadu Buhari All-Progressives Congress administration (APC).
The APC team of Bola Tinubu and running mate Kashin Shettima was declared the winner of the Feb. 25, 2023, presidential election on March 1, 2023, despite having polled only 36.61 percent of the votes, and carrying only 12—one-third—of the 36 states, plus the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria.
It ends the hope of Nigerians, who had hoped to see an end the country’s unremitting economic decline and security crisis over the past eight year. It also ends any hope that Nigeria will lead a continent-wide trend of economic growth, stability, and prosperity. While there are many reasons the system failed, it is clear that the immediate consequences of the system’s failure include protests, continuing unrest and irregular warfare and economic slippage.
Already, the decline in foreign direct investments (FDI), in Nigeria during the eight Buhari years has been severe. In the next four years, it is unlikely to increase. The FDI rose from $8.48 billion to $780 million in 2011, and then fell to $3.31 trillion in 2021. However, as a percentage to the GDP (gross domestic product), it hovers around 0.75 percent. For example, Morocco’s FDI percentage in 2021 was 1.5 percent. This is twice the rate of Nigeria.
Given that many African states are in very dire economic times, Nigeria is at this point the most vulnerable. They were hoping for a revival from Nigeria, which is the continent’s largest economy.
Based on Nigerian public response to the results of the presidential election—as well as the statistics of the poll—it is fair to say that most military coups in the country have been received more favorably than the March 1, 2023, announcement that former Lagos Governor (1999-2004) Tinubu had been declared President-elect.
Regardless of any good intentions President-elect Tinubu may have, election statistics reveal that the new Administration has neither a mandate to govern nor a clear strategy.
Allegations of election mismanagement, fraud, and voter and official intimidation aside (and there have been numerous examples of all of these during and since the polling), the voter turnout itself—about a quarter of registered voters—was unrepresentative of Nigeria’s 212-million population, however legal it was. Add to this the fact that the 1998 collapse of Gen. Sani Abacha’s military government did not account the different circumstances in the 2023 elections.
Gen. Abacha, who was 54 years old, died on June 8, 1998 from a heart attack. It enabled a transition back into democratic governance. However, it wasn’t the same governmental form as the pre-military structure. It became a mirror of the U.S. system, with two dominant parties.
A low voter turnout also contributed to this. The voter turnout was also low, with only 26.71% of the 93 469,008 registered voters showing up. This is 8.04 percent less than the disappointing 2019 voter turnout. As a result, President-elect Tinubu, the former Governor of Lagos State, failed to win a mandate to govern, considering that 63.39 percent—essentially two-thirds—of those who bothered to vote did so in protest against the APC, which had governed Nigeria for the past eight years.
The election was not able to unify Nigeria, despite eight years of increasing economic and security failures and widespread factionalism. The APC slate was defeated by the two main parties, the national People’s Democratic Party and the essentially regional New Labour Party. Atiku Abubakar (PDP presidential candidate) also won 12 states and received 29.07% of the vote. Labour’s Peter Obi, however, took 11 states and the Federal Capital Territory and 25.4 percent.
Part of the problem was that the 1999 Constitution which established the Fourth Republic only required that the winning candidate receive a plurality (not more than 50 percent) the votes cast. The winning candidate must also poll 25 percent or more of the votes in at least 24 of 36 Nigerian states and the Federal Capital Territory. This election was the Fourth Republic’s first. A third party emerged as a serious contender and split the vote. “major regional contender” The winner took a significant amount of votes.
One could argue that the situation was not due to Bola Tinubu the winner but rather a result of weakness in the Constitution. But, evidence is emerging that the fourth major party out of 18 that ran for the Presidency was not Bola Tinubu. “straw man,” Specifically designed to win votes from Tinubu’s main challenger, Atiku Abukar, Peoples Democratic Party candidate (PDP), a former Vice President of Nigeria.
The fourth candidate was former Senator and Kano (APC) State Governor Mohammed Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso—a Fulani, like outgoing Pres. Buhari—under the banner of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPC). Kwankwaso carried only one state—his own, Kano—taking 1,496,687 votes (6.23 percent of the vote), in the full knowledge that he could not win the presidency. He and the NNPP had no national organization. Importantly, if he had not run for the election, the majority of his votes would have gone To Atiku because he dominated the northern states where Kano is situated. Even with the unexpected growth of Peter Obi the Labour candidate, this would have made the race more evenly between the two main candidates.
It is widely believed that Kwankwaso was pushed to become president by the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC leadership. “straw man” Atiku’s votes could be taken by a contender. This speculation is supported by reports from the Kano elite and the fact that Kwankwaso was once the Governor of Kano for the APC. Kwankwaso had served as the governor of the state two times, once from 1999 to 2003, and again from 2011 until 2015. He was originally under the PDP banner. However, when the APC was founded in 2013, he switched to the party.
Peter Obi plays a significant role. After his failed bid to win the PDP nomination, Obi decided that he would run for the Presidency by himself. Obi looked around for another party to use for his separate Presidency bid. He was charismatic, articulate, and younger than any other candidate, which appealed to the younger voter. It worked up to a point but was largely carried by urban youth from the North.
The Independent National Election Commission campaigned hard for young people to get their permanent voter card (PVC). However, they didn’t turn up to vote. Given Nigeria’s youngest population, the median age of Nigerians is 17, it was expected that this would make Nigeria a vital voting country.
But it was Obi’s ego-fueled race—given that his chances of winning the national vote with a small regional party were improbably small—that turned the tide. His campaign was extremely well-run and his rhetoric was motivating crowds. But that wasn’t enough. This was strikingly similar to the 1992 U.S. Presidential race by Ross Perot, a businessman who built a network of passionate supporters. However, they could only draw voters away from the major-party candidates.
Perot won 19.7 millions votes in the 1992 U.S. election. This was despite his conservative approach and took votes from Pres. George H. W. Bush tried to re-elect himself. Bush won 39.1-million votes and left Democratic Party candidate Bill Clinton with 44 million. Bush would have been reelected without Perot’s enormous ego in challenging and with no real chance to win. Atiku would also have won the election without Obi or Kwankwaso.
That cannot be put at Tinubu’s door directly. He won according to the rules. The fact that he won despite the rules being followed by nearly two-thirds vote against the APC/Tinubu agenda is a bad sign for Nigeria’s future. Atiku and Obi presented credible visions of Nigeria’s future. Atiku had the long-range plan and national experience to create a vibrant, new Nigeria. Obi was not. The possibility exists that even a barely articulate Pres. Tinubu will not do much to increase Nigeria’s voice on African and international affairs.
It is expected that Nigeria’s governance problems will persist for the next few years. What is Africa’s best chance to break the economic pall? Morocco may offer stability and economic/political energy, but Africa’s rest is still in constant stress. There is no way to get relief. This applies especially to South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia and other major competitors.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Epoch Times.
From Nigeria’s Election of Bola Tinubu: Military Coups Have Been Better Received
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