On Tuesday, partial results from Nigeria’s elections give opposition leader General Muhammadu Buhari a narrow lead over the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan, however Mr Jonathan’s strongholds are yet to report final numbers and the final result of the polls is too close to call.
As of mid-Tuesday, just over half of Nigeria’s thirty-six states have declared returns in the vote. A number of the northern states, where Gen Buhari is seen as favourite, still have to declare. Results so far: from 25 states and Abuja (note: candidates need 25% in 24 states for first-round victory)
General Buhari: 10,454,137 votes; passed 25% threshold in 16 states
Mr Jonathan: 9,953,432 votes; passed 25% threshold in 20 states
This is Gen Buhari’s forth run at the presidency, with his prospects drastically increasing over growing frustration and criticism of Jonathan’s handling of Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency.
As was expected, Gen Buhari swept the northern states of Kano and Kaduna however the number of votes he received crushed expectations and have dealt a major defeat to Mr Jonathan. In Kano, which is the state with the second-largest number of voters, Gen Buhari won 1.9 million votes while Mr Jonathan received 216,000. In Kaduna, Gen Buhari won 1.1 million votes to Mr Jonathan’s 484,000. Gen Buhari also won the southern state of Lagos while Mr Jonathan won a large majority in his home state of Bayelsa. While by Monday evening, Gen Buhari was leading by two million votes, this lead was significantly cut after Mr Jonathan gained a landslide victory in Rivers State, where there have been widespread reports of irregularities which have resulted in local officials imposing an overnight curfew in an attempt to prevent any violence from erupting. On Tuesday, electoral commission chairman Attahiru Jega disclosed that a fact-finding team deployed to the state had found there were some voting irregularities with the poll but not enough in order “to warrant a cancellation of the election.”
Counting of the votes in Abuja is being carried out in the presence of party representatives as well as the media and national and international observers. The winner of the 2015 presidential elections is expected to be announced at the end of Tuesday. A victory for Gen Buhari will effectively make Mr Jonathan the first incumbent to lose an election in Nigeria.
On Tuesday, five explosions followed by a burst of gunfire targeted an opposition rally in the town of Okrika, which is located in the southern oil producing Rivers state. The town is home to Patience Jonathan, the wife of President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to eyewitnesses and local officials, Tuesday’s attack targeted the rally of main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), governorship aspirant Dakuku Peterside, which was held at a school in Okrika, a small port town located south of Port Harcourt. The incident occurred as members of the APC were reportedly waiting for their leaders to arrive at the venue. Several people were wounded in the attack, which forced people to flee the rally amidst fears that further explosions would occur. According to officials, APC party Governor Rotimi Amaechi was not present at the rally.
While it was not immediately clear who was responsible for the incident, Governor Amaechi has blamed the attack on the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), stating, “it is intimidation. They don’t want people to come out and vote because they’ll know they’ll lose.” The PDP spokesman for Rivers state, Emmanuel Okah, has stated that the incident was a clash between rival “cultists” – Nigerian university gangs that combine occult rituals with criminal activities.
In the lead up to the presidential elections, which are now set to take place on 28 March, Rivers state has been targeted by several bomb blasts. However none of them have been fatal. On Monday, the Nigerian Human Rights Commission disclosed that at least 58 people have been killed in pre-election violence across Nigeria.
The elections have been postponed from 14 February to 28 March over security concerns in the northeastern region of the country, where Nigerian troops, along with regional forces, are battling Boko Haram militants.