In an editorial dated 2 March 2023, the Financial Times (FT) advised Nigerian courts to be brave in their decision to annul the results of Saturday’s elections if evidence of electoral malpractice is presented.
The Financial Times, a British daily business newspaper that focuses on business and economic current affairs, has criticized the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for its poor performance in handling the polls.
The media outfit stressed “If Nigeria’s courts find suspicions, they should not shrink from annulling individual contests or even the whole result.”
FT argued that what Nigerians needed above all was “a clean election to reiterate the basic message of democracy: that a sovereign people can choose its leaders. Sadly, it did not happen. The election — which appears to have delivered the presidency to Bola Tinubu, a wealthy political fixer running for the incumbent All Progressives Congress — was badly mismanaged at best.”
FT continued, “It failed to set the example needed for west Africa, a region where too many national leaders have extended term limits or resorted to seizing power at gunpoint. Nigeria remains a democracy, but only just. The omens had been better. The emergence of Peter Obi as a viable third-party candidate had brought excitement and forced candidates to talk about policies, if only a little.
“Neutral observers thought the Independent National Electoral Commission was in good shape. They had high expectations that INEC’s promise to transmit voting tallies electronically from polling stations would eliminate ballot stuffing. The outgoing president, Muhammadu Buhari, had staked what remains of his tattered reputation on a clean contest. Yet the INEC badly misfired,” FT maintained.
According to the editorial, “voting started late in many districts, depriving millions of the right to vote. The system to upload results from 177,000 polling stations stuttered, causing legitimate concerns of vote tampering during long delays. Violence was troubling. Party goons invaded many polling stations in what appeared to be blatant acts of intimidation.
“It is plausible courts could conclude that — despite some obvious irregularities — the overall result reflected the will of the people. In that case, or if there is no court challenge, Tinubu will be faced with one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Nigeria has been teetering on the edge of catastrophe, with a breakdown of security and an almost total absence of growth. Neither is sustainable. By 2050, Nigeria will have 400mn people. They cannot be left without hope.”