Post-Election Reflections: Assessing the 2023 General Elections
On October 26, 2023, our 2023 general elections officially concluded. While several election petition tribunals are still active at the state level, dealing with cases concerning National and State Assembly positions, the Supreme Court’s unanimous confirmation of President Bola Tinubu’s victory marked the conclusion of the transition.
In summary, both the Appeal Court, the starting point of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), and the Supreme Court, the ultimate arbiter, declared that the petitions challenging Tinubu’s victory, brought by Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), and Chichi Ojei of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), lacked merit.
The Nigerian public didn’t hold high expectations for the Judiciary, given the historical reluctance of the highest courts to overturn the declared victory of any sitting president. Even in 2007, late President Umaru Yar’Adua acknowledged that his victory was flawed, yet the Supreme Court upheld his win, stating that the opposition candidates failed to substantiate their cases.
The 2023 general elections, particularly the presidential election, will be remembered as one of the most controversial in Nigeria’s history. This controversy did not stem from the election’s outcome or any wrongdoing by the victor. Rather, it was the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), led by Professor Mahmood Yakubu, that took a surprising turn. After raising expectations of a flawless, real-time electronic transmission of results, INEC abruptly reverted to manual collation, citing a “glitch” that affected only the presidential election while National Assembly results proceeded largely without issues.
We commend the opposition parties and their presidential candidates, especially Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, for their patriotic and peaceful conduct during their pursuit of justice. They tested Mahmood Yakubu’s INEC, the Judiciary, and even the declared winner, Tinubu, pushing the boundaries and exposing the numerous issues that need resolution to get our democracy back on track.
We also extend our congratulations to President Tinubu for his foresight, resilience, political acumen, and persistence, which ultimately led him to the presidential office after 17 years of relentless effort. With no distractions now, he has no excuses for failure.
While President Tinubu has not publicly acknowledged any flaws in the election that brought him to power, we believe that it is crucial for him to take a moment to contemplate the necessity of electoral reform and returning power to the people.
The time has come to reform INEC and our electoral laws and procedures, ultimately returning power to the people.