INEC badly misfired, Nigeria’s presidential poll was mismanaged— Financial Times



The Financial Times says Nigeria’s recently concluded presidential election was flawed and mismanaged.


In an editorial published on Wednesday, the London-based publication said the results of the election failed to pass the basic message of democracy — that a nation can choose its leaders.


“The election – which appears to have delivered the presidency to Bola Tinubu, a wealthy political fixer running for the incumbent All Progressives Congress – was badly mismanaged at best. It failed to set the example needed for west Africa, a region where too many national leaders have extended term limits or resorted to seizing power at gunpoint. Nigeria remains a democracy, but only just,” the editorial reads.


According to the paper, President Muhammadu Buhari failed to deliver on his promise of a free and fair election and “had staked what remains of his tattered reputation on a clean contest”, however, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed to deliver.


Financial Times cited voter suppression, ballot snatching and technology mishaps as reasons for a “failed” electoral process despite the fact that neutral observers thought everything was in order.


The editorial said results from the election were worrying especially as the emergence of Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), brought hope to a country “teetering on the edge of catastrophe, with a breakdown of security and an almost total absence of growth”.


“INEC badly misfired. Voting started late in many districts, depriving millions of the right to vote. The system to upload results from 177,000 polling stations stuttered, causing legitimate concerns of vote tampering during long delays,” the paper reads.


 “Violence was troubling. Party goons invaded many polling stations in what appeared to be blatant acts of intimidation. The Financial Times witnessed armed men remove a presidential ballot box in Surulere, Lagos.


“More worrying still was voter turnout, which was pitifully low at 27 percent. If official results are right, two-thirds of the 87mn people who lined up for hours to collect their voter registration cards failed to cast their ballot. Apathy cannot explain it. Something, including the possibility of widespread voter suppression, must have prevented them from voting.


“Total turnout of 25mn votes in a country of 220mn people is unacceptably low. Tinubu’s tally of 8.8mn gives him the weakest of mandates.”


The editorial asked Nigeria’s judiciary to take a “long hard look” at the election should Obi and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) decide to pursue their claims of rigging and not to shrink from annulling individual contests or even the whole result if suspicions arise.


On Wednesday, INEC declared Bola Tinubu as the winner of the 2023 presidential election.


The LP and PDP, however, asked Yakubu Mahmood to resign as the INEC chair and demanded that the presidential election be conducted afresh.


The parties said the elections were a sham and a “rape of democracy”.

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