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US Congratulates Nigeria’s President-Elect, Calls for Calm

FILE - U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price speaks during a news conference in Washington, 10 March, 2022.
FILE - U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price speaks during a news conference in Washington, 10 March, 2022.

U.S Authorities Wednesday congratulated Nigeria’s president-elect Bola Tinubu for winning the highly disputed elections and called for calm in the West African nation amid allegations of voter fraud.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken Thursday met with his Nigerian counterpart Geoffrey Onyeama, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in New Delhi, where he congratulated the West African nation for electing Bola Tinubu as the next president.

Ned Price, the spokesperson for the State Department described the 2023 presidential race as a new dawn for Nigeria.

“This competitive election represents a new period for Nigerian politics and democracy,” said Price

The State Department spokesperson further noted discontent among citizens of the West African nation who alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) manipulated the results.

“We understand that many Nigerians and some of the parties have expressed frustration about the manner in which the process was conducted,” said Price, adding, “Nigerians are clearly within their rights to have such concerns and should have high expectations for the electoral process.”

Karibu Mato, a professor of political science at the University of Abuja said the 2023 elections were historic.

“From my observations is that this was the most competitive of elections, closely you know, the three major candidates following one another. So, in my view it was merely an expression of the majority of Nigerian voter’s desires,” said Mato.

The political science professor further applauded INEC for its introduction of the BVAS system but noted the rigging allegations expressed by opposition candidates.

“Of course, we have improved significantly in terms of quality of our electoral system. The introduction of BVAS which is ICT compliant and recognition of individual voters. It might have gone a long way in removing the traditional ballot box stuffing,” he said.

“In the conduct of the election, the opposition parties are not disputing that it was free, fair, and credible. The bone of contention was the issue of transmitting results from the polling station to the server, uploading results to the server. I think that was the bone of contention,” he added.

Information for this report was sourced from Agence France-Presse. VOA’s James Butty contributed to this report.