The US has said the Feb. 25 election in Nigeria “failed to meet” the expectations of Nigerians.
“The people of Nigeria demonstrated their dedication to democracy on February 25, but there are many angry and frustrated Nigerians as well as many who are celebrating victories they believe were hard-fought and well-earned,” US Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Beth Leonard said in a statement on Sunday.
“It is clear that the electoral process as a whole on 25 February failed to meet Nigerians’ expectations,” she added.
According to the official count, Bola Tinubu took the top spot in the presidential race with 8.7 million votes, followed by Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with 6.9 million and Labor Party (LP) candidate Peter Obi with 6.1 million votes.
Both the PDP and LP have announced they will challenge the results in court.
Leonard said it will be important for the future of the country that Nigerians not let their differences divide them, and that the legally established process for resolving challenges to the election be allowed to take its course.
“We commend Mr. Obi and Mr. Abubakar for their recent statements committing to take this path (Legal path), and Mr. Tinubu, who the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the president-elect under Nigeria’s electoral framework, for acknowledging their right to do so,” she said.
The ambassador said: “The United States is no stranger to election-related controversy and conflict. As much as it can be unsatisfying to end an electoral process in a courtroom, in a constitutional democracy bound by the rule of law, that is where electoral conflicts may appropriately conclude.”
She noted that Nigeria has accomplished much in just over two decades since its return to democracy, and a gradual improvement in the quality of its elections in that time constitutes one of those accomplishments.
“We recognize that Nigerians want that positive trend to continue, including through the use of new technology intended to make the process of reporting results more transparent,” Leonard said.
Many Nigerians raised concerns after the INEC decided to manually transmit results, opting against using an existing instant transmission system.
The US reiterated its call on INEC to address promptly the challenges that can be resolved ahead of the March 11 gubernatorial elections, and to undertake a broader review of the problems that transpired during the last elections and what can be done to fix them.
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