AFRICANGLOBE – Opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari has swept to victory in the Nigerian general election, inflicting the first defeat of an incumbent government in the history of Africa’s biggest democracy.
With 35 of Nigeria’s 36 states declaring results, Buhari had polled 14,951,378 votes to sitting president Goodluck Jonathan’s 12,827, 522 – a lead of more than 2m votes.
Jonathan called Buhari to concede, a spokesman for Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) told reporters.
The outcome, following a highly competitive, expensive and at times vicious campaign, was hailed by analysts as a milestone for the advance of democracy on the continent. It marks the first time in Nigeria’s history that an opposition party has democratically taken control of the country from the ruling party.
The APC spokesman praised Jonathan for conceding. “There had always been this fear that he might not want to concede but he will remain a hero for this move. The tension will go down dramatically,” said Lai Mohammed.
“Anyone who tries to foment trouble on the account that they have lost the election will be doing so purely on his own.”
Buhari, 72, first tasted power a generation ago as a military dictator, only to be ousted after 20 months and jailed. The former army general has campaigned as a born-again democrat intent on cleaning up the corrupt politics of the continent’s largest economy and most populous nation.
It was his fourth run at the presidency since 1999. His chances were boosted by frustration over endemic corruption, criticism over Jonathan’s handling of Boko Haram’s six-year uprising and a well-organised opposition.
Tensions mounted as both voting and the collation of results had to be extended by a day each. The second day of vote-counting got off to a dramatic start when a member of the governing party disrupted proceedings to accuse the electoral chief of bias.
The logistics of transporting results from around the country to the national nerve centre Abuja slowed the counting process. Prof Akin Oyebode, an academic, noted that Nigeria lacks high-speed trains while flights are often delayed. “We have to remember we are a third-world country, not a first-world country,” he said.
By: David Smith And Monica Mark