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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April, 2003, 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK
Were Nigeria's elections free and fair?
Nigerian elections
President Olusegun Obasanjo has been re-elected for a second term in Nigeria's first civilian-run presidential election for 20 years.

Mr Obasanjo topped the poll by securing more than 60% of the vote.

But the president's victory has been marred by allegations of vote-rigging.

There is also a high security presence in many of the country's cities amid concerns of possible angry reaction by opposition supporters.

What are your views on the elections? Were they free and fair?

Thank you for your e-mails. This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

The winners should as a matter of democratic principle improve the lot of the citizenry
Okoh Francis, Nigeria
Those who lost should congratulate the winners and the winners should show magnanimity in victory so as to move this country forward. But importantly, the winners should as a matter of democratic principle improve the lot of the citizenry.
Okoh Francis, Nigeria

The elections are over and the results are out. INEC should stand tall for this accomplishment because those who didn't wish Nigeria well wanted them to fail. No matter who conducted any kind of election in Nigeria, losers must complain. It is the same all over the world and especially in Africa. People tend not to accept defeat in good faith. Obasanjo is better than the rest of other aspirants. We all knew this before the elections and the results have confirmed it. Democracy has survived. No one should try to set the clock back.
Tony Udechukwu, USA

Nigerian politicians have a way of refusing to accept defeat even when the elections are conducted in the most conducive atmosphere. I was made to understand that it rained heavily in Lagos on the day the presidential election took place, hence a lot of irregularities must have occurred. But since the election was not postponed politicians should accept the result so that the poor masses can breathe some fresh air of freedom from all the fake promises of the politicians. Now is the time to plan for election 2007.
Bruno Njoku, UK

Obasanjo is the man for this job because he started it and he should be allowed to finish it. Buhari can just wait for next four years
Yonye, Scotland

For now Obasanjo is the only best option we have. I would give up my citizenship if Buhari had won - he is not a nation leader. We pray democracy succeed in Nigeria. Long live federal Republic of Nigeria.
Onoriode Okwe, Nigerian based in the USA

Any election in which a single party wins more than 95% of the votes in a whole state is very questionable
Divine, Nigeria
Any election in which a single party wins more than 95% of the votes in a whole state is very questionable. This does not seem to me a fair result.
Divine, Nigeria

The elections were criminally fraudulent. Imagine some places where elections were not held (e.g part of Delta State of Nigeria) results were declared. How can an election be said to be fair when all citizens are not given the opportunity to exercise their franchise? PDP should be ashamed of themselves. They have succeeded in institutionalising corruption in the country. This govt. has no moral justification whatsoever to fight corruption.
Madu Ben, Nigeria

I feel bad when I hear people say things reported by the media with so much emphasis. How can someone outside the country believe everything reported by foreign media about Nigeria? Don't they know that foreign media never say anything good about Nigeria? Nigerians, outside and within, we should believe in our country. The election was free and fair. Accept the results for us to move forward. Ignore Buhari and his cohorts. There is never a time Buhari will rule this nation again.
Peter M., Lagos, Nigeria

The credibility of the recent elections in Nigeria is surely questionable, after all what do you expect from a government that felt the Zimbabwean Presidential elections was free and fair. I am right now in Bonny Local Government where no voting took place at all, but mysteriously PDP has been declared to have won in this area.
Anonymous, Nigeria

The people will accept the outcome for the sake of our young democracy
Dickson Chukwu, Nigeria
That the conduct of the election was largely peaceful and devoid of rancour was not as a result of the government or Inec's effort but the resolve of the Nigeria people to defend and protect our young democracy. The election is far from being free and fair because there are glaring irregularities in most of the states. But whichever way, my belief is that the people will accept the outcome for the sake of our young democracy.
Dickson Chukwu, Nigeria

To be brutally honest the election in Nigeria was neither free nor fair. There is little doubt that all sides have been engaged in malpractices, intimidations, killings, arbitrary arrests and organised fraud. Lets face it, the stark truth remains that Obasanjo does not have a sound economic blueprint needed to kick-start an economy nearing collapse. He had four years to prove to Nigerians that he can deliver but has not done so. On the other hand his main challenger, General Buhari himself has equally failed to provide Nigerians with an alternative choice. In fact, Nigerians are tired of retired generals, what we need are new breed politicians untainted with the past.
Cyprian Uche Okolocha, London, England

It is a great relief to learn that the elections were concluded with the minimum hitch in most states. It is a good starting point for progress. If people who hold the reign of power simply do their duty and leave each citizen to go about their daily business peacefully, Nigeria will soon be transformed into one of the most prosperous countries of the world. It will also be possible for people who lose elections to realise that there is a possibility of a comfortable and peaceful life outside of government and politics. I congratulate ALL Nigerians for this new trend; and pray that it may last. Long live Nigeria.
Dr. Jare Ade, USA

Nigerian politicians have learned nothing and have forgotten nothing
Ben T, Nigeria
It is indeed sad that Nigerian politicians have learned nothing and have forgotten nothing. Nigeria and Nigerians have continued to suffer under military dictatorship, with and without uniforms. Or how else can you explain a situation where politicians use the Nigerian treasury for personal gains including perpetrating themselves in power by employing thugs who kill and maim in the name of politics? God help Nigeria!
Ben T, Port-Harcourt, Nigeria

Many of us overseas can only shake our heads when news of violence and disunity in Nigeria reaches us. However, as I read this news, I can only smile. Nigeria is finally committing to a brighter future. A legacy of democracy is being born as we watch. Nigeria is rising from its slumber.
Senongo Akpem, Japan

No election can be all free and fair in Nigeria or any part of the developing country. Even in the USA, that practiced election democracy for more than 100 years, it was and is not free and fair. So let all the GENERALS (without Kakis) in Nigeria politics learn to accept defeat in the spirit of sportsmanship. We know it's hard for military men to accept defeat in war, instead they surrender. God will not forgive those who want to draw Nigeria to the Dark days.

Elections in Nigeria were marred by violence, rigging, intimidation and above all; thuggery
Okafor Anthony N Onso, Nigeria
Elections in Nigeria were marred by violence, rigging, intimidation and above all; thuggery. The results were absolutely nothing to write home about. Do you know that all the churches boycotted the last exercise because of widespread rigging and intimidation in Enugu state in particular? Therefore, the process was an illusion and we cannot take because we need to uphold democracy in Nigeria and murder democracy itself.
Okafor Anthony N Onso, Nigeria

The 'landslide' victory of PDP in this election is reminiscent of the NPN's 'victory' in 1983. Has Obasanjo's government performed so wonderfully well that it was returned to power in a superlative vote? Have we learnt from history? How could a candidate garner 96% of the votes cast, even when he is the sole candidate? By the results, Nigeria is virtually a one party state now. The peoples wish may however be different given the number of parties. This crushing 'defeat' of the opposition makes the whole exercise embarrassingly uninteresting.
Prosper Ahworegba, USA

The election was generally peaceful, devoid of thuggery and violence as recorded in my place of vote.
Igbinoba Joshua, Nigeria

There will still be irregularities in the elections but the disturbing issue is the degree of it. But this can be corrected with time as the democratic process is gradually taken place in the country. Dictatorship is increasingly wiped out of Nigerian politics, unlike in most Francophone Africa where despotism has been strengthened since the on set of the second liberation. Buhari and his men will cry foul as expected. However, Buhari's role in Abacha's regime has to be rewarded by a defeat as anyone who dined with the dictator mortgaged his political career. The Nigerian people have this in mind in whatever elections.
Nkongho Ta-Mbi, Cameroon/United Kingdom

I voted. It was peaceful in my locality. I believe party agents should be positioned and specific on where rigging occurred. Each Local government has several Election wards and voting centres. Party agents should mention the wards and centres where the rigging took place. We need to start building objectivity into our arguments and discussions. It's easier to condemn and pull down. I pray after these elections we will witness a new birth of dignity in labour and a massive growing of the GDP of each state of the Federation.
Babs, Nigeria

If the election was conducted fairly, why have they decided to swamp the country with soldiers?
Nelly Kalu, UK
No, the election was no way near of being free and fair. The President and his cronies knew they were losing support and popularity. They devised a strategy whereby they allowed the people to vote in most places. But, at the counting various stations, they sent in the military either to remove the final result and replace it with their own already prepared result and declaring themselves winner. How can you call it fair to go against the peoples' choice? If the election was conducted fairly, why have they decided to swamp the country with soldiers?

This practice is more wide spread in the Eastern States such as Abia State where the situation is rather obvious. There are heavily armed soldiers and police together with their groups of criminals or hired assassins who have been clothed in military uniform just to deprive people their fundamental rights. The situation is very tense and dicey in Abia State (South Eastern part of the country) and no one knows what may be the final outcome.
Nelly Kalu, UK

They have expressed this hope by going out and voting in large numbers
Charles, USA
Given the manner in which successive Nigerian governments have badly treated the populace, it is nothing short of a miracle that Nigerians are hopeful about the future. They have expressed this hope by going out and voting in large numbers.
Charles, USA

Election rigging will continue to be a recurring problem in Nigeria. This is because politicians most often plough back what they have stolen while in office to be able to grab some more in the next dispensation.
Shina Morenigbade, Sweden

I just wish my countrymen and women back home the best during this testy time, please let's get it right this time.
Rogba Bankole, USA

I think Nigerians should be thankful that Obasanjo, for the second time, gave them the chance to chose who they want to lead their nation. Rome was not built in one day. Since there is a will, Nigeria will soon see true democracy.
Leme, Sudan

No nation has ever had a perfect election. Nigeria's democracy is very young and should be allowed to mature, that is, both electorates, Inec and politicians should be allowed to learn from their mistakes.
Ola Fapohunda, Nigeria

I'm actually proud of my country and its people
Michael Okorie, Norway
I'm very pleased and proud that Nigerian can actually vote in a calm and orderly manner. I'm actually proud of my country and it people. Our diversity is ingrained and abounds in human and natural resources emphasising the peculiarity of Nigeria and Nigerians. I'm very happy and proud that my country and it people are beginning to realise where they went wrong and are making new choices through the ballot box. I know that amendment takes some time even though people want miracle to happen everyday. God bless my country.
Michael Okorie, Norway

What Nigeria needs most at the moment is stability and OBJ seems to be the only candidate with a chance to win this election who can give Nigeria this Stability.
O Alade, London

There can't be real voting for democracy in view of CORRUPTION and TRIBALISTIC politics in Nigeria. Certainly, we have recycled looters of the past regimes partaking in elections; don't expect any changes in the leopard coated skin after all. So, let's not call this an exercise of democracy by free election. It all a joke and reaffirms Nigeria's status as 2nd most corrupt nation on earth, that's my take indeed.
Dom Agboje, Fremont, California .USA

Having gone around I can only say that the election was free and fair
ISHIE, P. E., Nigeria
I'm surprise to hear people complain about the election in Nigeria, having gone around I can only say that the election was free and fair. The few loopholes seen is common to any democratic society even developed ones
ISHIE, P. E., Nigeria

This election will determine the fate of Nigeria as it strives for the future and integration within the community of democratic nations.
Rev. Fr. Anthony Agbali, Nigeria/USA

In spite of all the expectations of bloodshed and chaos, I think so far the elections have been fair.
Daniel, USA

It is quit unfortunate that election in Nigeria are not by the vote of the people but by the connection of the candidate. What happened in Port Harcourt last week was clear view of what will happen this Saturday. GOD HELP NIGERIA.
Charles, Nigeria

At my voting point(Surulere-Lagos) it was peaceful and orderly. I predict Mr. Obasanjo will win the presidency.
Ambrose Orogun, Nigeria

As a Nigerian living abroad, I'm worried about millions of citizens who have no future. It's time for the old politician to get out and allow the young people to decide their future. We need serious minded politician who are ready to make positive change to the lives of the people they represent.
Ade, Britain

With great hope and anticipation, the general feeling is that those responsible for this litmus test today in Nigeria will make history and let Nigerians really decide who rules them. It will set precedents and bring stability to other African countries and beyond.
Abba, Kano

What has OBJ done to deserve another term? We still have the same problems of insecurity, no electricity, fuel problems. And with Buhari it's a shame that he can ask Nigerians to vote for him, with his records on violations of human rights. Well I guess that's the beauty of democracy¿
Seyi Onabanjo, Nigreia

The only credible election possible in Nigeria is that conducted by a foreign and neutral party
Ike, Nigeria/USA
The ONLY credible election possible in Nigeria is that conducted by a foreign and neutral party - possibly the UN. The current election is a charade. There have been ballots counted and released in districts where no polling occurred; widespread intimidation; missing ballot boxes; and unreported murders. In the end, Nigeria will elect another dummy. Not elect, but crown another thief. In the end, the citizens will be denied and robbed of the basic duty of self-determination. What a disgrace.
Ike, Nigeria/USA

Let the people have their say. It does not matter who wins.
Olakitan Adeniji, UK

How can the election be free and fair? When the people or so called "politicians" are not free and fair to themselves. I don't blame the average Nigerian, because he/she is left with no choice, because if you don't go out to vote, someone will help you to vote in your absence!!
Abel, England

My best wishes to millions of my countrymen who will be voting today. I appeal to all aspirants to accept the results of this election and join hands in building the nation. Where there are severe / obvious cases of irregularities, they should seek redress in the appropriate court of law not in the pages of newspapers. The country will definitely get better with time if we place national interest above personal ambitions. The international press should also know that a more objective reporting of events in Nigeria will also assist in the country's search for stability.
Fred Asasa, France

Obasanjo, should go for he has failed totally to fulfil his campaign promises, he is a failure, Buhari will surely be better than him.
MICHEAL, Nigerian living in Ivory Coast

The problem with elections in Nigeria is two fold. Election rigging and bad sportsmanship, where politicians are ready to shout'rigging' even when they know they lost the election and have no support amongst majority of the people.
Bosa Chude, United Kingdom

Q&A: Nigerian elections
11 Apr 03  |  Africa


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