#NigeriaDecides: Buhari takes early lead after wins in Etiki, Osun states

President Muhammadu Buhari, flanked by his wife Aisha Buhari, casts his vote at a polling station in his hometown Daura in Katsina State, northwest Nigeria, on February 23, 2019. PHOTO | PIUS UTOMI EKPEI | AFP

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari scored early gains on Monday in his bid for re-election; this is according to Nigeria’s electoral commission (INEC).

The 76-year-old candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party won 57 percent of the vote in the south-western state of Ekiti, the first to announce its results.

Buhari also won in neighbouring Osun state but he was run close by main challenger Atiku Abubakar, of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), winning by just over 10,000 votes.

APC won with 347,634 votes cast against PDP’s 337,377 votes in Osun state (1,674,729 registered voters).

The electoral commission was expected to start declaring results of the presidential election on Monday, including confirmation of official results for the National Assembly.

INEC officially opened the collation centre for presidential election results in Abuja on Sunday.

“There will be a formal inauguration and it is from there, hopefully, in the not too distant future, the commission will make a formal declaration of who the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is,” INEC chair Yakubu told journalists on Sunday.

According to the laws, the candidate with the most votes is declared the winner in the first round, on condition that he gets at least 25% of the votes in two-thirds of the country’s 36 states.

INEC chairperson Mahmood Yakubu told journalists the commission was ‘generally satisfied’ with the vote, despite delays that caused it to be extended to Saturday night and in some cases Sunday.

Yakubu also cautioned against the premature declaration of results by candidates, political parties and their associates.

“Only the Independent National Electoral Commission can tally figures, announce results and declare winners,” Yakubu said.

Both Buhari and Atiku’s camps have claimed ‘resounding victories’, citing results from different polling units across the country.