The newly elected president of Nigeria extends a hand to contesting voters
The newly elected president of Nigeria extends a hand to contesting voters

Lagos: After a closely contested election in which opposition parties sought to challenge a vote they claimed was tainted by fraud, Bola Tinubu, the newly elected president of Nigeria, called on his opponents and their supporters to "join hands" with him on Wednesday.

The 70-year-old former governor of Lagos was declared the victor of the presidential election on Saturday, realising his lifelong dream of leading Africa's most populous country.

When President Muhammadu Buhari announced his resignation in May after serving two terms, many Nigerians hoped the election would bring in a new leader who could combat the country's escalating insecurity, restore the economy, and reduce poverty.

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According to the final results, Tinubu, a candidate for the All Progressives Congress, received 8.8 million votes, compared to 6.9 million for Atiku Abubakar, a candidate for the People's Democratic Party.

Peter Obi of the Labour Party received 6.1 million votes, proving his success as an unexpected third candidate.

The Independent National Electoral Commission declared Tinubu the winner after he received the necessary number of votes from two-thirds of the states in Nigeria, a requirement designed to ensure fair representation.

However, lengthy delays and a sluggish online results roll-out during the election on February 25 infuriated voters and opposition parties, who asserted widespread vote-rigging.

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Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, Obi's running mate, claimed that the alleged results fell short of the minimal standards for a transparent, free, and fair election.

He assured supporters that "we will go to court" while pleading with them to maintain "peace and calm."

After the results are announced, candidates who want to challenge the election have 21 days to file a lawsuit.

Tinubu urged his opponents to enter the ceremony on Wednesday where he received the official certificate certifying his victory, "so that we may begin the task of rebuilding our national home together."

"I ask that you not let the disappointment of this moment prevent you from realising the historic national progress we can make by joining hands and hearts in common effort to pull this nation through," said Tinubu, a Muslim from the southern Yoruba community.

The longtime political power broker ran his campaign using the catchphrase "It's my turn" and touted his accomplishments as governor of Lagos from 1999 to 2007.

Rivals, however, who cast doubt on his health, history of graft allegations, and associations with Buhari, who was criticised for failing to keep his promise to make Nigeria safer, attacked his promise of reviving hope.

Tinubu's election victory on Wednesday was met with conflicting reactions.

Some locals in the northern city of Kano rejoiced at the information.

Despite the obstacles and ploys used by the opposition to scuttle the election by calling for its cancellation, 32-year-old butcher Anas Ibrahim expressed his happiness that Tinubu had won.

Other voters expressed their anger and worry about the INEC's handling of the tallies in other places.

The results were not made transparent by the INEC chairman. Nobody is pleased, so we will undoubtedly go to court. "Tinubu can't be president," asserted Edwin Oluma, a 23-year-old student in Abuja.

For the first time since Nigeria's military coup ended in 1999, the election was close after Obi, 61, attracted a lot of support with his message of change.

In Lagos, Tinubu's historical stronghold, he won a significant victory.

The 76-year-old businessman and former vice president Abubakar failed in his sixth bid for the presidency.

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The voting on Saturday was largely peaceful but plagued by lengthy wait times at numerous polling places, technological issues, and some thugs' intimidation.

Based on the number of people who successfully registered on election day, observer group Yiaga Africa calculated that the turnout was just over 29%.

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