Nigerian opposition leader, Peter Obi, who secured the third position in the February presidential election, has conceded that his legal battle to challenge the election results has come to an end. His joint effort with the second-placed candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to annul Bola Tinubu’s victory was unsuccessful in the Supreme Court last month.
In a unanimous decision, the judges dismissed their claims of widespread electoral irregularities. Mr. Obi expressed his disappointment, stating that the ruling was a “total breach of confidence.” However, his remarks were swiftly dismissed by the presidency as “false narratives.”
Speaking in the capital, Abuja, Mr. Obi, who leads the Labour Party, emphasized that despite the unanimous court verdict, his vision for a new Nigeria remains undiminished. He had been regarded as the candidate who resonated with the aspirations of many young Nigerians in the fiercely contested election in February.
His presidential bid aimed to challenge the long-standing dominance of the two parties that had governed Nigeria for over two decades. Mr. Tinubu secured victory in the election with 37% of the votes, while former Vice-President Mr. Abubakar garnered 29%, and Mr. Obi secured 25%.
The two main opposition candidates had sought to overturn the election results, alleging irregularities and questioning Mr. Tinubu’s eligibility to run for the presidency. The Election Petition Court upheld Mr. Tinubu’s victory in September, leading to the subsequent appeal to Nigeria’s highest court.
However, the Supreme Court ruled that the opposition’s challenges lacked “merit.” This electoral dispute had placed Africa’s most populous nation on the brink of political tension following the general election.
Mr. Obi’s response to the verdict criticized the damage done to Nigerians’ confidence in the judiciary. He rejected the judgement, citing “overwhelming evidence of rigging” presented before the court and urged it not to overlook the substantial allegations.
Although the 62-year-old politician did not explicitly announce whether he would run for the presidency again in 2027, he affirmed that the end of his journey for a new Nigeria had not arrived. He stated, “As a party and as candidates, Datti and I have now exhausted all legal and constitutional remedies available to us.” He described the Supreme Court’s judgement as a new beginning in “our quest for a better country” and pledged to broaden their message of hope throughout the nation.
In response to Mr. Obi’s comments, Bayo Onanuga, a presidential aide, described them as “false claims and innuendos.” Mr. Onanuga urged the Labour Party leader, who acknowledged the Supreme Court’s ruling marked the end of the presidential election litigation, to offer congratulations to President Tinubu and pledge his support in the spirit of statesmanship.
Last week, Mr. Abubakar, the leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, had criticized the court’s ruling, saying it “doomed” the country’s democracy and politics. Meanwhile, President Tinubu, the All Progressives Con