The Nigerian Presidential Election was finally held on April 16. Incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan received 58% of the vote, compared to 32% received by his closest rival. Of the 18 remaining candidates, only the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate, Nuhu Ribadu, won a state (Osun).
But, were there charges of election fraud?
Of course, with the electoral history of Nigeria, the opposition candidate(s) alleged electoral irregularities. However, international observers are sanguine about the results. John Campbell, of the Council on Foreign Relations, stated
International election observers have been enthusiastic about Nigeria’s 2011 presidential elections, seeing them as a dramatic improvement over those of 2007, admittedly a low bar. Electorally, the country split in two, with the North, predominately Muslim, voting for Muhammadu Buhari and the South for the winner, incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan. (In addition, there were numerous other candidates who altogether won only a small percentage of the vote).
However, he was quick to add,
Buhari and other Northern spokesmen have denounced the elections as having been rigged and have called for them to be annulled. Meanwhile, murderous rioting has broken out across the northern part of the country, a sign of the major breakdown in civic order. What happened?
What happened may have been a result of the Nigerian population not mixing. If you live in a small town, you are surrounded by people who live and think much like you. If that small town is in the northern half of Nigeria, then you are surrounded by people who are Muslim and who voted for Muslim Buhari. The only people you meet voted similarly. And yet, your candidate lost handily. A logical conclusion — especially in light of Nigerian history — is that Jonathan stole the election.
Note that the only thing that distinguishes this electoral map from a distribution of religious sects in Nigeria is the red splash of color in Osun: The north is Muslim; the south, Christian.
Now, add to this equation politicians who want power (as they all do). The result is the uproar in the north. Thus, the protests are a reflection of power-hungry politicians who failed in winning the election, and not in the conduct of the election or the counting of the votes. Abia State Governor, Chief Theodore Orji, concurs. Orji, "deflated the allegations of fraud in the massive votes that the PDP presidential candidate got in the two zones, saying that Buhari and his CPC should live with the fact of their failure."
The Nigerian Bar Association concludes:
INEC must be congratulated for conducting a transparently credible election so far. INEC cannot be held responsible for the poor democratic culture displayed by some of the losers. It is on record that this is the first general election where alarming reports of disenfranchisement in the way of subserviced polling stations, inability of registered voters to vote, violence at polling stations and the hijacking of ballot boxes were recorded at the barest minimum. There is a consensus among all observers, local and international and men of repute that covered the election so far that the whole process was free and fair.
The analysis we performed centered solely on the states won by Jonathan. As we do not yet have access to the number of invalidated votes by state, nor do we have access to sub-state counts, that is all we can do. It is interesting to note, however, that the vote counts easily pass the series of three Benford tests. Updates will follow as more data is released.
|Official electoral body:||Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)|
|Election date:||April 16, 2011 (postponed from April 9, 2011)|
|Results:||Center for Electoral Forensics|