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Nigerians react to presidential election results

A Nigerian trader reacts to the results of Saturday's presidential election.   -  
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JOHN WESSELS/AFP or licensors


The piece of news of the day: Nigerians awoke to a new president Wednesday (March. 1), with the ruling party candidate declared the winner of the country's election.

Bola Tinubu's direct contenders say the vote was marred by fraud and violence. Both parties called for the head of the election commission (INEC) to step down.

In Lagos, voters acknowleged glitches but backed the electoral Commission's final say.

"It's obvious that the elections did not go well in some places, but INEC have done their thing, and they have announced the winner," Chioma Opirum said. 

"If there is any issue, any other party has with the election results, I think they should take up the case and do the needful."

The parties now have three weeks to appeal results, but an election can be invalidated only if it's proven the national electoral body largely didn’t follow the law and acted in ways that could have changed the result.

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has never overturned a presidential election, though court challenges are common, including by Buhari, who doggedly fought his past election losses for months in vain.

For this other voter, there is no room for doubt: "He(Tinubu) is a great man in Nigeria, he is a great man in Lagos, he has been controlling Lagos for many years and succeed."

"During his regime, we people enjoy, there was no suffering, so we are happy as he climbs up to the Federal (government), he reached it, and he achieved it," Mushafiu Abina said.

If the former governor of Lagos state is popular, Bola Tinubu did loose his stronghold state to opposition candidate Peter Obi.

The tightly contested election has redrawn Nigeria’s electoral geography and produced results that are significantly different from those of past polls, with this being the first time that a president takes office with less than 50% of the vote and where four candidates won over a million votes, say analysts.

What's up next?

From the onset, Tinubu will have to contend with challenges to his legitimacy, so he’ll need to ensure an inclusive government and focus firmly on rebuilding national cohesion, he added.

Tinubu "will have to strive to win the support of the larger majority who preferred one of the other candidates, particularly the youth, the Christian groups that were opposed to his Muslim-Muslim ticket and Igbos in the South East who again feel denied the presidency,” said Nnamdi Obasi, senior adviser on Nigeria for the International Crisis Group.

Nigeria's current president, Muhammadu Buhari, congratulated his successor in a statement Wednesday, but said the election was not perfect. “Of course, there will be areas that need work to bring further transparency and credibility to the voting procedure. However, none of the issues registered represents a challenge to the freeness and fairness of the elections,” he said.

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