Nigeria's ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu was on Wednesday declared winner of a disputed weekend presidential election by the electoral commission after defeating two of his closest rivals.
All Progressives Congress (APC) party candidate Mr Tinubu, 70, won 8.8 million votes against 6.9 million for opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar and Labour Party's Peter Obi, who won 6.1 million, according to results.
The overnight announcement is expected to lead to a court challenge by the two main opponents.
Mr Abubakar finished second in the last vote in 2019, then appealed those results before his lawsuit ultimately was dismissed.
On Tuesday, the two leading opposition parties had demanded a re-vote, saying delays in uploading election results had made room for irregularities.
The ruling APC party urged the opposition to accept defeat and not cause trouble.
The former governor of Lagos state, Mr Tinubu will inherit a mountain of public debt that has grown sevenfold to 77 trillion naira ($167 billion) during Muhammadu Buhari’s eight-year tenure and left the government with an interest bill that consumed about four fifths of its revenue last year.
Besides having to get the nation’s finances back on track, he will need to quash violence perpetrated by militants, secessionists and armed bandits across vast areas of the country.
Mr Tinubu has pledged to expand the size of the security forces, more than triple crude production, reduce exposure to foreign debt and make it easier for citizens to gain access to financing.
He has also vowed to eliminate petrol subsidies that cost the government 4.9 trillion naira last year and consumed most of its oil revenue — a move that will push up transport costs and could trigger social unrest.
Mr Tinubu is used to navigating controversy, having spent decades at the forefront of Nigerian politics.
After running the commercial centre of Lagos for eight years until 2007, he remained the most influential politician in south-western Nigeria, where he played a key role in the selection of state governors.
He has been a leading power broker in the APC since its formation in 2013 and saw off challengers, including former Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, to secure the party’s presidential nomination by a landslide in June last year.