Presidential candidate who scored 35% of votes shouldn’t be given total control of Nigeria: Kayode Fayemi

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Former Ekiti governor Kayode Fayemi on Tuesday said Nigeria should reconsider an alternative to its current political system, saying its acrimonious outcomes have rendered it unsustainable.

“What we need is alternative politics,” Mr Fayemi said at an event marking the 60th birthday of Professor Udenta Udenta in Abuja on Tuesday afternoon. “My own notion of alternative politics is that you can’t have 35 per cent of the vote and take 100 per cent. It won’t work.”

Mr Fayemi said Nigeria’s political structure should reflect the pattern of votes across the country. Nigeria currently operates a federal constitutional system that allows anyone who scored the most votes from scores of candidates to be president. The country has no run-off arrangement that eliminates candidates and ultimately picks a winner after a few rounds, in case no one scores above 50 per cent in the first round. 

Mr Fayemi’s comments come as President Bola Tinubu marks his 100 days in office, and as Nigerians brace for the verdict of a panel sitting on opposition lawsuits against his victory. He had been declared winner of the February 25 exercise with only 36.6 per cent of the votes, while his two main rivals Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi scored, 29 per cent and 25.4 per cent, respectively, or 54.4 per cent of the votes. 

Mr Tinubu’s fragile mandate has left the country on the edge, as most voters continue to see him as illegitimate. The Nigerian leader has repeatedly urged national unity in the wake of the election. 

Mr Fayemi said temper wouldn’t be this elevated were the arrangements for picking a president different.

“We must look at proportional representation so that the party that is said to have won 21 per cent of the votes will have 21 per cent of the government,” Mr Fayemi said. “Adversary politics bring division and enmity.” 

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