Nigerian election: Obi wins Lagos state but lags behind Tinubu and Atiku

Labour Party candidate and outsider Peter Obi has secured a narrow victory in the key state of Lagos, but his chances of victory are hampered by crushing defeats in other states.


Image : Patrick Meinhardt /AFP

Labour candidate Peter Obi has won Lagos state, the powerhouse of the Nigerian economy, as the vote count continues in what looks like a tight presidential election.

Obi has obtained a narrow majority at 45.46% against 45.41% for the All Progressive Congress’s (APC) candidate Bola Tinubu, and just 6.01% for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar. Only 2734 votes prevented Tinubu from winning the state, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In doing so, he captured an APC stronghold. The party has ruled the state for the past eight years, and Bola Tinubu was its governor between 1999 and 2007.

After its defeat, the APC issued a statement urging its supporters to stay calm as ethnic violence was reported in some parts of the state.

“The fact that the APC narrowly lost Lagos State to another party should not be the reason for violence. As a democrat, you win some, you lose some. We must allow the process to continue unhindered across the country while we maintain peace and decorum,” says the statement.

But despite being a major breakthrough for the outsider candidate, Obi’s win in Lagos is by no means a national victory. As the votes trickle in, preliminary results show Tinubu and Atiku winning in five states each, and Obi in two – Lagos and Enugu. Nationwide, Tinubu and Atiku have secured 3.51m and 2.52m votes respectively, while Obi lags behind on 1.43m votes.

In the 10 states won by Tinubu and Atiku so far, Obi has received less than 25% of the vote – in the northern states of Katsina and Yobe he gained less than 1%.

Such poor results in Tinubu and Atiku’s strongholds diminish Obi’s chances for a national win. To secure a first-round victory, the Nigerian constitution requires at least 25% of the votes in two-thirds of the states. If Obi loses with less than 25% in a few more states, only a run-off could give him the key to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa. 

The final result is likely to be announced later this week. INEC says the process is experiencing serious delays as polling units were unable to open on time due to lack of materials and insecurity issues.

In some parts of the country voting continued on Sunday, a day after polls officially closed.

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Leo Komminoth

Leo is tech reporter for African Business, based in Dakar, and also works on data visualisations.