What did we learn from the elections in Nigeria?

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Man reads newspaper announcing election results in Kano, Nigeriaimage rights
AFP

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The victory of Mr. Buhari was the front page in Nigeria

The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, was re-elected for a second term of four years.

His main opponent, second-placed Atiku Abubakar, described the election as a "slip" and vowed to challenge the outcome in court.

Here are five things we learned from a controversial election.

1. It broke records – for the wrong reasons

With 73 million voters, this could have been Africa's biggest election to date – but only a third of voters were present.

What was billed as a record choice broke the records, but for a completely different reason. The parliamentary elections of 2019 recorded the lowest turnout in Nigeria's 20-year history as a democracy.

Nationwide turnout has been steadily declining since 2003. The general decline, especially in the South, may point to diminishing faith in the political establishment and what it can bring to the people. The apathy of the voters seems to have occurred.

2. Buhari is still a big deal in the north

The runner-up and main opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, said voting was a bad match.

He says it is strange that the total number of votes cast in one of its strongholds, Akwa-Ibom, in this election was 50% lower than in 2015.

Mr. Buhari usually has strong support in the north of the country, where he is considered a principled man of the people. There his numbers were constant for the last five presidential elections.

Voter turnout was significantly lower in the southern regions of Nigeria, where Abubakar hoped his numbers would increase.

He has won in the South, but not enough to reduce Mr Buhari's lead of four million votes.

3. Security concerns have not deterred Buhari supporters

Abubakar also asked why parts of the north devastated by the Islamist militia group Boko Haram had high turnouts.

The states of Borno and Yobe in the northeast are strongholds of the All Progressive Congress (APC). Their support is not weakened, although security concerns have displaced around two million people.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) provided for 400,000 internally displaced persons to vote in or around their camps.

The region scored high despite attacks on the election day of Boko Haram and its offshoot, the so-called Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).

image rights
AFP

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No more presidential election posters for another four years

4. Both candidates were affected by the delay

Inec delayed election day due to logistical problems by a week.

This triggered complaints from people who had already traveled to their hometowns to vote, and now they would have to make the trip twice.

However, this would have affected the supporters of both candidates equally.

5. The electronic vote is – probably – more transparent

Some analysts believe that the use of electronic voting systems has made human error and manipulation more difficult.

Although there have been instances when electronic voter checkers have failed, many believe that the use of technology has helped to understand voters and their true electoral behavior, and to curb voter fraud.