Buhari On Course For Re-Election Victory With Nearly 3.5m Votes

Incumbent Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday looked on course for victory over his main rival in Nigeria’s presidential election, with just a handful of states left to declare, as the opposition called for a halt to the vote count

With results in from 27 states and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja, Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), had a lead of nearly 3.5 million votes over his main challenger, Atiku Abubakar, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

To win, a candidate needs a majority of votes nationwide and at least 25 percent of support in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states and the FCT. Buhari, 76, has won 15 states including the two biggest in terms of population, Lagos and Kano, while Abubakar, 72, has 12 states plus the FCT. 

Three of the four states left to declare were in the northwest, where Buhari enjoys huge support, making it unlikely Abubakar can claw back the deficit with wins in the remaining southern states.

Voting took place on Saturday after a week-long postponement, which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) blamed on difficulties in distributing ballot boxes and materials.

The APC and PDP have accused each other of conspiring with the electoral board to rig the result, against a backdrop of wider concern about transparency and a credible vote.

The PDP on Monday said the APC was trying to “manipulate the result”, which could be a prelude to a legal challenge of the outcome.

On Tuesday, it called for an “immediate halt to the ongoing collation of results”, claiming data from voter card readers had been altered to suit the ruling party.

As-yet undeclared results from the northeast state of Borno and Zamfara in the northwest should be “deleted”, said Tanimu Turaki, from Abubakar’s campaign team. He also called for tens of thousands of “valid, lawful” PDP votes in the north-central states of Plateau and Nasarawa, and the FCT to be reinstated.