In the wake of negative comments and reactions trailing Nigeria’s 2023 Presidential/National Assembly election held Saturday, February 25, UK foreign secretary James Cleverly has asked relevant authorities to ensure that all the concerns raised by opposition parties, observer missions and civil societies are carefully addressed.

Cleverly, in a statement issued on Wednesday, commended Nigerian voters for their patience and resilience in exercising their franchise during the election.

He also extended his country’s congratulations to Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was declared winner of the election on Wednesday.

“We note the position of opposition parties on the election outcome and the concerns expressed by observer missions and civil society about the organisation of the process, including delays and technical challenges,” Cleverly said in the statement.

“We encourage the authorities to examine all concerns carefully, take action to resolve outstanding issues and focus on delivering the will of the Nigerian people,” he said.

After INEC commenced collation of election results, opposition political parties began to raise objections on the conduct of the election. Local and international observers have also raised some concerns.

Notably, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the Labour Party (LP) and the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) which came second, third and fourth, respectiively, in the election according to results announced by INEC, rejected the results and called for a fresh election. They also demanded the resignation of Mahmood Yakubu as INEC chairperson.

On Wednesday, Omoyele Sowore, presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), joined in rejecting the election, saying the results do not “reflect the will of the people”.

Sowore, who scored a total of 14,608 votes in the election, said in his state of the nation address on Wednesday that the 2023 presidential election “did not meet any legal requirements of what should be called a free, fair and credible election”.

“We categorically condemn the election that was held on the 25th of February as a fraudulent election that didn’t meet the standard of what should be called a free, fair and credible election,” Sowore said.

“There is nothing surprising about it. We knew that these criminals in our system have no interest in organising a free and fair election. What they did was a selection as they usually do, they have just given you the candidate of the choice of the criminal political elite in Nigeria.

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“Any figures, either for me or against me or them or against them that you see during this election were concocted and manufactured fraudulently,” he said.

The local and international observer groups who have turned in their preliminary reports also said the electoral process, although largely peaceful, was marred by irregularities.

The Commonwealth Observer Group, led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, in a preliminary assessment of the electoral process in Abuja on Monday noted administrative and logistical hurdles at many polling units across Nigeria despite “largely peaceful” general elections.

The group also noted late arrival of election officials and materials at many polling units, technical issues with biometric identification machines in some cases, and delays with the live results transmission system, while encouraging INEC to conduct a thorough post-election review of the electoral process to draw lessons and consider setting up appropriate mechanisms to implement the recommendations of observers.

On its part, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) Joint Election Observation Mission (IEOM) said the election fell well short of citizens’ reasonable expectations despite the much-needed reforms to The Electoral Act 2022.

In a preliminary statement on the election presented in Abuja on Monday, the IRI-NDI Joint Election Observation Mission, led by former Malawian President Joyce Banda, said logistical challenges and multiple incidents of political violence overshadowed the electoral process and impeded a substantial number of voters from participating.

The mission also said currency and fuel shortages across the country also imposed excessive burdens on voters and election officials, while marginalised groups, especially women, continued to face barriers to seeking and obtaining political office.

The Banda-led delegation further said it observed that late opening of polling locations and logistical failures created tensions and the secrecy of the ballot was compromised in some polling units given overcrowding.

“At the close of the polls, challenges with the electronic transfer of results and their upload to a public portal in a timely manner undermined citizen confidence at a crucial moment of the process. Moreover, inadequate communication and lack of transparency by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) about their cause and extent created confusion and eroded voters’ trust in the process. The combined effect of these problems disenfranchised Nigerian voters in many areas, although the scope and scale is currently unknown,” the mission said.

INEC declared Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State who ran on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election after he secured a total of 8,794,726 votes. Tinubu was presented with a certificate of return as President-Elect by INEC in the afternoon of Wednesday.