Opposition Wins Nigerian ElectionsApril 1, 2015 in Nigeria
Challenger General Muhammadu Buhari has won Nigeria’s presidential election by 2.57 million votes, defeating incumbent Goodluck Jonathan.
On Wednesday, Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced that Gen Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), won 15,424,921 votes (53.95 percent) of the 28,587,564 total valid ballots case. Rival Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) won 12,853,162 votes (44.96) in the elections, which was held on Saturday and Sunday. In a statement released Wednesday, INEC chairman Attahiru Jega stated, “Muhammadu Buhari, of the APC, having satisfied the requirement for the law and scored the highest number of votes, is hereby declared the winner and is returned elected.”
In an unprecedented step, which will likely help to defuse anger amongst disgruntled supports of the former president, Mr Jonathan called Gen Buhari at 5:15 PM (1615 GMT) on Tuesday, prior to the final results being declared, to concede defeat. A spokesman for Gen Buhari’s APC party praised Mr Jonathan, stating, “he will remain a hero for this move. The tension will go down dramatically,” adding “anyone who tries to foment trouble on the account that they have lost the election will be doing so purely on his own.” In a statement released late Tuesday, Jonathan stated, “I promised the country free and fair elections. I have kept my word.” He urged disputes over the results to be settled in court rather than on the street, adding, “nobody’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian.” Jonathan will officials hand over power to Buhari on 29 May.
Gen Buhari’s move is a significant moment in Nigeria’s history, as never before has a sitting president lost an election. Jonathan had led Nigeria since 2010. While he won elections in 2011, over the past year, Nigeria has suffered a series of major attacks carried out by Boko Haram militants, with many believing that Gen Buhari is better positioned to defeat the militant group after Jonathan failed to maintain his promise of ending the six-year insurgency. While military gains against the militant group in recent weeks were welcomed, they were also seen as too little too late, particularly by those who have lived under constant threat. This was reflected in Borno state, which has been the worst-affected region by the Islamists rampage. Initial results indicated that Buhari won 94 percent of the vote in the state as hundreds of thousands of people defied threats of suicide attacks and bombings to vote. While Buhari has acknowledged that the task of completely defeating Boko Haram will be challenging, along with other challenges, including dealing with widespread poverty, his military background resulted in many believing that the former leader is better equipped to fight the insurgents.