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US lawyer off the mark with 10% claim about Nigeria’s presidential election result

IN SHORT: Because Bola Tinubu got 8.79 million votes from the 87 million Nigerians who collected voter cards ahead of the February 2023 election, he only has a mandate from 10% of the vote, according to a US-based lawyer. But this is inaccurate.

Nigeria’s president-elect Bola Tinubu won only 10% of the votes in the February 2023 election, according to a US lawyer.

W. Bruce DelValle, the general counsel of the US-chapter of the National Democratic Coalition (Nadeco), was speaking at a press conference on the election called by the Nigerian pro-democracy group.

Nadeco was formed in 1994 by interest groups opposed to military rule in Nigeria following the annulment of the 12 June 1993 elections.

A clip and quotes from the press conference have been shared on several Facebook pages including here, here, and here

Tinubu was declared the winner of the presidential election on 1 March. He ran on the ticket of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC).  

“Inec themselves said 87.2 million PVCs were collected out of 93 million registered voters. If you consider that 87 million people had voting cards and could have voted. The declared winner of the election received 8.7 million votes,” DelValle says in the clip.

Inec refers to the Independent National Electoral Commission, the body responsible for elections in the country, while a PVC is a permanent voter card. 

“Out of the 87 million, the maths is not really hard. That means that Mr Tinubu got 10% of the votes. He will be ruling the wealthiest nation in Africa with the mandate of 10% of the population,” DelValle said.

But is DelValle's claim that Tinubu was elected with 10% of the vote correct? We checked the figures.


Expert: Calculation is off the mark

Inec data showed that 87.2 million people collected their voter cards before the election.

The electoral body said Tinubu had 8.79 million votes, representing 36.6% of the votes cast. This would seem to inform the lawyer’s claim of 10%.

(Note: DelValle also seemingly misspoke, when he said the winning candidate had a mandate of  10% “of the population”, which would mean at least 20.6 million people – much fewer than the number of people who signed up for the cards.

Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party got 6.98 million votes, while Peter Obi of the Labour Party got 6.1 million votes.

But DelValle’s calculation is inaccurate. “The winner of the presidential election is based on the total votes cast and won by each candidate [and is] not based on the permanent voter cards collected,” Oni Michael Abiodun told Africa Check.

Abiodun is a professor of political science at Babcock University in Ogun state in southwest Nigeria.

“The provisions of the constitution do not include percentages regarding the winner of the presidential election."

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