The US and UK governments on Wednesday sent congratulatory messages to Nigeria’s president-elect, Bola Tinubu, while acknowledging alleged irregularities in Saturday’s polls.
“Congratulations to @officialABAT on his victory in Nigeria,” UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted.
He expressed his willingness to work with Mr Tinubu to grow security and trade ties, opening up opportunities for businesses and creating prosperity.
“The UK-Nigeria relationship remains strong,” he said.
In a separate congratulatory message, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly commended Nigerian voters for their participation, patience and resilience in exercising their democratic rights.
“We note the position of opposition parties on the election outcome and the concerns expressed by observer missions and civil society about the organisation of the process, including delays and technical challenges,” Mr Cleverly said.
He encouraged the authorities to examine all concerns carefully, take action to resolve outstanding issues and focus on delivering the will of the Nigerian people.
Similarly, the US Department of State spokesperson, Ned Price, congratulated Mr Tinubu and all political leaders on the results of the presidential election.
He described the election as competitive and representing a new period for Nigerian politics and democracy.
“Each of the top three candidates was the leading vote-getter in 12 states, a remarkable first in Nigeria’s modern political era, reflecting the diversity of views that characterized the campaign and the wishes of Nigeria’s voters,” Mr Price said in a statement.
He acknowledged that many Nigerians and some of the parties have expressed frustration about the manner in which the process was conducted and the shortcomings of technical elements that were used for the first time in a presidential election cycle.
“Nigerians are clearly within their rights to have such concerns and should have high expectations for their electoral processes. We join other international observers in urging INEC to improve in the areas that need the most attention ahead of the March 11 gubernatorial elections,” Mr Price added.
He encouraged parties seeking to challenge the outcome of elections to utilise well-established mechanisms in place for the adjudication of electoral disputes; adding that all parties, candidates, and supporters should refrain from violence or inflammatory rhetoric at this critical time.
The PDP and the LP on Tuesday called for the cancellation of the results. They made their positions known at a press conference attended by their vice-presidential candidates, Ifeanyi Okowa and Datti Baba-Ahmed, respectively.
“The election was a sham, and never free and fair,” said Mr Okowa of the PDP, a position corroborated by the LP’s vice-presidential candidate.
Their main grouse is that INEC failed to upload the results of elections in the over 170,000 polling units onto a central server (IReV) as required by law. That step should have been done before the collation and announcement of results, they said.
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At the press conference, the two parties also demanded that the chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, must step aside over what they described as electoral irregularities and malfeasance. INEC has since replied, saying its chairman would not resign and that any party aggrieved with the election process should follow the law to air its grievances.
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