“Result does not reflect the will of the people”

In Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari has accepted re-election as president. But his political opponent Atiku Abubakar wants to challenge the result in court. The bishop of Yola speaks of "terrible electoral fraud".

It took days for Nigeria's National Electoral Commission (INEC) to announce the results of the presidential election on Wednesday morning: with more than 15.1 million votes (55.6 percent), incumbent Muhammadu Buhari (76) has won re-election.

Challenger Atiku Abubakar (72) came to 11.2 million votes (42.2 percent). In the run-up to the event, a neck-and-neck race had been expected.

The goals remain the same

In his first speech after the results were announced, Buhari said the government would step up its efforts on security, economic reforms and fighting corruption. Those were already four years ago its goals – which it did not reach according to critics. The president urged his supporters not to insult the opposition or boast about the victory to them. "Victory is reward enough for your efforts," he said.

Hardly any jubilation after the election

Previously, there had been repeated fears that there would be unrest over the election results. Both candidates were always confident of victory. However, there was no great jubilation or motorcades among supporters of Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) even hours after the announcement of the victory. Enthusiasm looks different.

Low voter turnout

Voter turnout was also low, officially at 35.7 percent. This means only about 28.6 million would have voted in Africa's most populous country, home to more than 190 million people. It would be the lowest turnout since 1999, when Nigeria transitioned to a multiparty system after long military rule.

It turned out particularly badly in Lagos, where only about 1.1 million people voted; earlier, 6.1 million had registered there.

Bishop raises allegations of electoral fraud

In some counties in other states, the electoral authority canceled the ballot altogether. Most affected was Rivers in the south, where 23 percent of polling stations failed to open.

The Catholic bishop of Yola, Stephen Dami Mamza, is disappointed by the election: "The result does not reflect the will of the people."According to current information, never before in Nigeria's history has there been such "bad electoral fraud," the bishop said.

Opposition challenges election

Since Monday, Abubakar's party, the People's Democratic Party (PDP), has also questioned the election process and announced that it will not accept the results.

After hours of silence, Abubakar repeated this accusation Wednesday morning and announced he would go to court. Since he did not ame fair and free elections, he could not congratulate the winner either.

Hardly any religious tensions

Unlike previous elections, however, this time there was less religious tension, says Imam Nuruddeen Lemu, director of the Islamic Education Trust in the city of Minna. The reason, he said, was that both major party candidates were Muslims and their respective surrogates were Christians.

Mixed candidate teams of Muslims and Christiansn

As in the USA, teams of two will compete in Nigeria. "This time, however, the religious component has been used by some to accuse mainly the incumbent of having a plan for Islamization," the imam said.

However, this was rejected; "after all, the vice president is a pastor."

Imam: Interreligious dialogue must be expanded

According to Lemu, in the predominantly Christian south of the country, there have been cases of pastors urging their congregations not to vote at all; after all, both leading candidates are Muslims.

These religious voices, the imam said, showed that "much still needs to be done in the area of interfaith dialogue".

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