Earlier this morning, the Independent National Electoral Commission declared Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the winner of the 2023 Presidential Elections, marking the end of arguably the most important and hotly contested presidential election Nigeria has seen for 50 years.
You can find comprehensive results from the Nigerian general elections at stears.co/elections, including:
Presidential results at state-level
Presidential results at local government level (still being updated)
House of Representatives results
Here are three key takeaways from Nigeria’s 2023 Federal Elections.
#1 A tight race
The presidential race was as close as expected. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the winning candidate, accumulated 8.8 million votes, just 1.8 million votes ahead of Atiku Abubakar in second and 2.7 million votes more than Peter Obi. In contrast, President Buhari won the 2019 Elections by nearly 4 million votes.
Furthermore, each of the top three candidates won twelve (states), showing how split voter preferences are across Nigeria. One clear edge the APC candidate can boast of is that he secured at least 25% of the vote in 29 states, making him the most universally popular candidate. Meanwhile, although Peter Obi came within a million votes of Atiku Abubakar, he reached 25% of the poll in fewer states (16 vs 21), suggesting his popularity was slightly more concentrated.
#2 Stears accurately predicts the 2023 presidential election winner
Our pre-election poll and prediction model has proved prescient now that the results are in. The basic Stears poll put Peter Obi ahead with 27% of the vote, compared to 15% for Bola Ahmed Tinubu and 12% for Atiku Abubakar.
However, the high level of silent voters (37%) prompted us to question the reliability of a poll with such a high number of undeclared voters. To solve this problem, we built a first-of-its-kind electoral prediction model to identify who these silent voters intend to vote for, inferred from the rest of the polling data they reported.
Peter Obi (40%) remained in poll position even after we applied the model. However, Nigeria’s electoral value chain—from registering to vote and successfully collecting a PVC to getting out to vote on election day and having that vote counted—is still fraught with pitfalls that affect the final results.
To account for our expectation that turnout would be the biggest decider of the elections, we analysed a range of turnout scenarios.
Notably, the Stears prediction model correctly projected that a low-turnout scenario (29%) would be a victory for the APC candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Separately, we predicted a Peter Obi victory in a high-turnout scenario (roughly 85% turnout) and maintained that prediction even under a turnout scenario of 45%.
The Stears prediction model was also accurate at state level. The basic poll results put Peter Obi marginally ahead of Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Benue State. But, once the model was applied to the poll results, the order flipped as we projected that Bola Ahmed Tinubu would win Benue by a single percentage point, exactly as it played out.
#3 Record low turnout
The headline is that at 27%, turnout for the 2023 Presidential Elections is the lowest in Nigeria’s history (2019: 35%). Even when voter turnout is computed as a proportion of collected PVCs rather than registered voters, the estimated turnout number is still low at 29%, as 93% of PVCs were collected.
The low turnout figure is a surprise given the consensus view that Nigerians were more engaged in the 2023 General elections. This view was buttressed by INEC confirming that more than 10 million Nigerians registered to vote for the first time ahead of the 2023 elections. A simple explanation would be that voter apathy ultimately ruled supreme in Nigeria.
But, a more nuanced view would account for other plausible reasons. First, the naira and petrol scarcities in the weeks leading up to the poll were bound to significantly dent voter turnout. Second, there were reports of violence and voter suppression in many parts of the country, as well as delays in actual voting.
Put together, one could argue that a lot more Nigerians tried to vote than those that succeeded. Whatever the reasons behind this low turnout, the problem is accentuated in southern states as the bottom five states for turnout are all in the south while four of the top five states for turnout are in the north.