Nigeria's ruling party candidate, Bola Tinubu, winner of the presidential election in Africa's most populous country, on Wednesday called on his rivals to work "together", after a contested ballot. opposition that denounces fraud.
Bola Tinubu of the Progressives Congress (APC) garnered more than 8.8 million votes, or 36%, winning one of the most contested elections in Nigeria's democratic history, according to the Electoral Commission (Inec). , against its two main competitors.
Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the main opposition formation (the PDP, in power from 1999 to 2015), won 29% of the vote, against 25% for the outsider Peter Obi, of the Labor Party (LP), whose the popularity with young people has given new impetus to the campaign.
Mr Tinubu's supporters gave a chanting welcome to their "Jagaban" (leader) at his campaign headquarters in the middle of the night. "It is an exceptional moment in the life of any man, and a confirmation of our democratic existence," he said.
"I call on my competitors to team up together. This is the only nation we have," he told the opposition, who accused him of "massive" fraud and demanded the cancellation of the election.
"We must work in unity" to "put the broken pieces back together", he insisted.
In another speech in Abuja on Wednesday, the winner this time addressed the Nigerians. "I will work night and day for you, especially the young ones," he promised. "I ask you to join us so that we can begin to rebuild our national home together."
Nigeria has 216 million people -- 60% of whom are under the age of 25 -- and is set to become the third most populous country in the world by 2050, in a West Africa threatened by democratic backsliding and the spread of jihadist violence.
The unsuccessful candidates had yet to react publicly on Wednesday afternoon, but Mr Obi's running mate, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, warned: "We will go to court", he said, while urging his supporters to "remain calm and peaceful".
After the proclamation of the results, the candidates have 21 days to challenge the election in court.
Washington, which on Wednesday congratulated Mr. Tinubu on his victory and the Nigerian people after the election, called, through the voice of the spokesman for the American diplomacy Ned Price, on the parties "to show restraint and avoid any inflammatory statement at this crucial time."
This result leaves in any case a bitter taste to a part of the youth, who had placed their hopes for change in the person of Peter Obi.
This 61-year-old former governor, seen as honest, had established himself as the candidate for a break with the aging Nigerian elite, deemed corrupt.
"We are upset," said Nikodemos Daniel, a 27-year-old motorcycle driver in Onitsha (southeast). "Tinubu is one of the worst. He's a corrupt and wicked man, I don't trust him."
Mr. Tinubu's political rise has been punctuated by numerous accusations of corruption, without him ever being convicted and which he has always denied.
Incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, 80, who is stepping down after two terms as required by the Constitution, hailed Tinubu's victory: "Elected by the people, he is the best person for this position." And if he recognized "flaws" in the electoral process, denounced by many observers, they do not shake in any way the "regularity" of the ballot.
The official turnout is not yet known, but it would be low according to initial estimates: around 30%, roughly the same as in 2019 (33%), according to the Nigerian NGO Yiaga Africa.
In Lagos, apart from small gatherings where young people exulted and waved the flags of the ruling party, the life of the 20 million inhabitants resumed its course on Wednesday without much outpouring of joy: the capital, former stronghold of Mr. Tinubu, voted mostly for Mr. Obi.
"The country must move forward," commented Abiola Adesina, a 47-year-old driver. "Yes, he's old, but he's open-minded and he's going to keep our country together."
Mr. Tinubu will especially inherit a myriad of problems. For four years, he will have the heavy task of redressing the English-speaking giant weighed down by a flagging economy, recurrent violence by armed groups and bandits, as well as a general impoverishment of the population.
Long given a big favorite in this election, this Yoruba of Muslim faith had seen his lead shrink over the course of the campaign, due to the growing popularity of Peter Obi, then serious shortages which aggravated the anger of Nigerians against the government, with a disastrous balance sheet, between explosion of insecurity and the cost of living.
More than 87 million voters were called to the polls on Saturday. The vote was generally peaceful.
Since the return to democracy in 1999, Nigeria has held seven national elections, almost all contested.
03/02/2023 02:14:57 - Lagos (AFP) - © 2023 AFP