The European Union’s election observation mission denounced Nigeria’s presidential, parliamentary and governorship elections as “systematic failings” three months after the elections were held. Problems with transparency, electoral security, and low turnout caused many disputes around the victory of the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari. “The elections became increasingly marred by violence and intimidation, with the role of the security agencies becoming more contentious as the process progressed,” commented the EU observers.
President Buhari, 76-year-old retired general, with 15.1 million votes, defeated the main opposition challenger Atiku Abubakar with 11.2 million votes, according to Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). However, Abubakar rejected the outcome, labelling the polls fraudulent and contesting them at the Nigerian Supreme Court. “Nigerians are still in shock over the revelations by EU of how about 2.8 million votes were deliberately ‘cancelled without sufficient accountability’ and how several returning officers gave no reason for the cancellations,” stated Kola Ologbondiyan, national spokesperson of Abubakar’s Peoples Democratic Party.
However, the EU reported shortcomings, abuse at federal and state level, violence and intimidation on both sides. While the EU has improved trade and political ties with Nigeria in the last few years, Africa’s most populous country and the largest economy tarnished its reputation by the elections. Buhari, in the attempt to strengthen relations with the EU, accepted the report and promised to implement its recommendations ahead of the next elections in 2023.