FT describes Nigeria’s presidential election as “badly flawed”

The Financial Times Editorial Board, during the week, published a scathing editorial analyzing the recently concluded Nigerian presidential election.

The editorial argued that what Nigeria needed most was a clean election to reinforce the democratic principle of people choosing their leaders, but this did not happen. It rebuked the electoral process for being poorly managed, failing to set an example for other countries in West Africa, where leaders have been extending their term limits or seizing power by force.

  • “What Nigeria needed above all was a clean election to reiterate the basic message of democracy: that a sovereign people can choose its leaders. Sadly, it did not happen. 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 acknowledges that the emergence of Peter Obi as a viable third-party candidate had brought excitement and forced candidates to talk about policies, but despite this, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed to deliver on its promise to transmit voting tallies electronically from polling stations to eliminate ballot stuffing.

It also cited reports of party goons invading polling stations and removing ballot boxes, causing legitimate concerns of vote tampering.

  • “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. 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.”

The official result put Bola Tinubu of the incumbent All Progressives Congress at 37%, Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic party at 29%, and Peter Obi at 25%. However, some individual results, including Obi’s narrow victory in Lagos state, were questionable, the FT opines.

The British-based newspaper also noted that the voter turnout of 27% was pitifully low, with two-thirds of the 87 million people who lined up to collect their voter registration cards failing to cast their ballot.

The article calls on Obi and Abubakar to decide whether to pursue their claims of rigging in the courts, with the judiciary urged to take a long hard look at the situation.

It also provided a list of todos for the next president stating that they must quickly remove the fuel subsidy and rationalize the exchange rate system. The army and police, which are riddled with ineptitude and corruption, also need urgent reform.

The article concludes that Tinubu, who campaigned on his ability to pick a strong team, must name a cabinet of independent, competent, and honest ministers if he is confirmed as president.




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