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No, Nigeria’s electoral commision chair hasn’t said he regrets declaring president Bola Tinubu winner of Nigeria’s 2023 election

IN SHORT: Facebook posts claim that the chairperson of Nigeria’s electoral commission has said he regrets hurriedly declaring Bola Tinubu winner of the 2023 presidential election. But there is no evidence of the claim.

Nigerians remembered the events around the controversial 25 February 2023 presidential election, as its first anniversary approached. 

The chair of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who was the umpire in the election, came under fresh criticism. Some blamed him for the rising cost of living under president Bola Tinubu. 

It was in this context that a claim began to circulate on Facebook that Yakubu had released a statement saying he regretted hurriedly announcing Tinubu as the winner of the election, after seeing the hardship Nigerians were facing.

“Breaking News: I was in a hurry to declare Tinubu the president of Nigeria, i never expected this hardship on Nigerians - INEC Chairman,” the headline of a post making this claim reads

"INEC Chairman expresses regret over prematurely declaring Tinubu as President of Nigeria, acknowledges hardship on Nigerians. The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has issued a statement expressing regret over the premature declaration of Bola Tinubu as the President of Nigeria,” the post reads.

The same claim can be seen here, here, here and here.

Yakubu declared Tinubu as president-elect at about 4 am on 1 March 2023. His critics claim he announced the controversial result before dawn because he knew many Nigerians would be unhappy about it.

The main problem was the failure of the iRev portal, an election result viewing website where polling units were to be uploaded immediately after voting and counting. This would enable Nigerians to see the election results in real time. 

This didn’t go as planned. Critics claim Yakubu sabotaged the system to allow the results to be changed in favour of Tinubu, who was the candidate of the ruling party. But Inec has said any failure of the system was only a technical glitch.

Opposition parties challenged the result of the election in Nigerian courts until the supreme court gave the final verdict, upholding Tinubu’s victory.

Has Yabuku released a statement a year later, saying he regrets hurriedly declaring Tinubu president-elect?


No evidence of the claim

First, the claim runs contrary to Yakubu’s public statements about the 2023 election. 

Yakubu has admitted to the failure of the iRev portal but has insisted that it did not affect the credibility or the results of the polls. 

This position is also seen in Inec’s official report on the 2023 general election, released on 23 February 2024. 

The head of Inec’s information and voter education committee, Sam Olumekun described the report as “an in-depth analysis of the election’s key processes, achievements, and challenges, along with valuable lessons learned”.  

Considering Yakubu’s role, any statement he makes relating to the 2023 election would typically be reported by the media. We checked and found no media reports on the supposed admission.   

There is also no such statement on Inec’s website or any of its communication channels.

The claim that Yakubu has expressed regret over announcing Tinubu as the winner of the 2023 presidential election is false.

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