How do we determine who wins the elections?
With two weeks to the tightly contested 2023 presidential elections, voters want to know how the electoral system in Nigeria determines the winner of the executive and legislative elections after voting has concluded and the results have been collated.
In Nigeria, the presidential and governorship elections use a majority system, which means the winner is the candidate who got the most votes.
Section 134 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides the criteria to be fulfilled before the candidates running for executive or legislative positions can be declared winners of the polls.
First, the candidate must receive the highest number of votes cast in the entire country and secondly, at least one-quarter (25 per cent) of the votes in two-thirds of all the states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The Constitution says:
(1) A candidate for an election to the office of President shall be deemed to have been duly elected, where, there being only two candidates for the election –
(a) he has the majority of votes cast at the election; and
(b) he has not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the States in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
What this means is that for the presidential candidate to emerge as the winner, they must have received the most votes in at least 24 out of Nigeria’s 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory.
If no candidate meets the criteria, the Constitution provides that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will carry out a run-off election between the top two contenders.
The same section of the Constitution provides that:
(3) In a default of a candidate duly elected in accordance with subsection (2) of this section their shall be a second election in accordance with subsection (4) of this section at which the only candidate shall be
(a) the candidate who scored the highest number of votes at any election held in accordance with the said subsection (2) of this section; and
(b) one among the remaining candidates who has a majority of votes in the highest number of States, so however that where there are more than one candidate with majority of votes in the highest number of States, the candidate among them with the highest total of votes cast at the election shall be the second candidate for the election.
This simply means that only two candidates will be on the ballot for the elections. The Constitution provides that the first will be the candidate who secured the most votes at the initial elections and the second will be the candidate who gained the majority of votes in the highest number of states.
The Constitution provides that:
(5) In default of a candidate duly elected under subsection (4) of this section, the Independent National Electoral Commission shall, within seven days of the result of the election held under the aforesaid subsection (4), arrange for another election between the two candidates to which the subsection relates and a candidate at such election shall be deemed to have been duly elected to the office of President, if he has a majority of the votes cast at the election.
Similarly, winning governors must receive the highest number of votes cast in the state and receive at least one-quarter of votes in two-thirds of all local government areas across the state.
Finally, for legislative elections like the National Assembly or the State House of Assembly, winners are determined through a simple majority. This means also means that any candidate in the run-off polls with the highest number of votes will be declared the winner of that election.
Do you have any questions regarding the 2023 elections? If so, now is your chance to get some answers, courtesy of The Republic.
Please leave any questions you have in the comments below or email us at [email protected]. Our editors will answer your questions ahead of the 2023 elections.
Remember, there are no ‘dumb questions’!⎈
Here are some Republic articles to read for more context on the 2023 General Elections:
The views, thoughts, and opinions published in The Republic belong solely to the author and are not necessarily the views of The Republic or its editors. We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editors by writing to [email protected].