Tensions rise in Nigeria as opposition demands new vote

A woman beats branches on the ground as people stand around her.
A woman beats branches on the ground as she and other demonstrators accusing the election commission of irregularities and disenfranchising voters make a protest in downtown Abuja, Nigeria, on Feb. 28, 2023.
(Ben Curtis / Associated Press)

Nigeria’s opposition on Tuesday demanded a revote for the country’s presidential election, in which partial results show an early lead for the ruling party.

At a news conference in the capital, Abuja, the three main opposition parties said the election was an insult to democracy and called for Nigeria’s election chief to resign.

“The conduct of the 2023 election has been marred by widespread violence, rigging, intimidation of voters, doctoring of results and violation of the laid-down electoral process, which was communicated by the national electoral body,” said Julius Abure, chairman of the Labor Party.


While the news conference was taking place, dozens of protesters took to the streets of Abuja and in the southern state of Delta, accusing the election commission of disenfranchising voters.

Results from Saturday’s presidential and parliamentary elections in Africa’s most populous nation have been trickling in, with 14 of its 36 states votes announced. In the presidential race, Bola Tinubu of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, is in the lead, winning six states. Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, the main opposition candidate, trailed closely with five. Peter Obi of the Labor Party, a surprise leading candidate in what’s usually a two-horse race, has won three states after a strong showing in polls before the elections.

Drag queens are more mainstream than ever, as are LGBTQ rights. Yet, story hours, where drag queens read to kids, have become a point of controversy and even violence.

Feb. 22, 2023

To win, the candidate who leads the popular vote must also win at least a quarter of the votes in two-thirds of the states and Abuja.

Parties have three weeks to appeal results, but an election can’t be invalidated unless one proves that the national electoral body largely didn’t follow the law and conducted actions that could change the final result.

The ruling party has asked the opposition to accept defeat and not cause trouble.

“We call on Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi to emulate former President Goodluck Jonathan by conceding defeat. This election has already been won by our candidate, according to the results declared at the collation centers in the state,” said Dele Alake, a spokesman.

Saturday’s election was largely peaceful, but observers said there were at least 135 critical incidents, including widespread delays and eight reports of ballot snatching that undermined the legitimacy of the vote.


Putin believes he can outlast the West, even as U.S., Europe show robust support, unity after a year of conflict

Feb. 26, 2023

The opposition said the delay in uploading results from each of Nigeria’s 176,000 voting units to the electoral body’s portal left room for irregularities.

The electoral body dismissed the call for a new election and said the results point to a free, fair and credible process. “Aggrieved parties are free to approach the courts to ventilate their concerns and wait for the matter to be resolved. Making inciting comments capable of causing violence or unrest is unacceptable,” Rotimi Oyekanmi, a spokesman for the election chief, said in a statement.

The opposition’s call has raised concern about growing tensions ahead of May, when the new government is meant to be sworn in.

“If elections are canceled and we have to start over again, May 29 may no longer be sacrosanct, which might lead to the declaration of a state of emergency and an interim national government,” said Idayat Hassan, head of the Center for Democracy and Development, Nigeria’s largest democracy-focused group.

Associated Press reporters Taiwo Ajayi in Abuja and Sam Mednick in Ouagadougou Burkina Faso, contributed to this report.