Former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari has become the first Nigerian to defeat a sitting president through the ballot box, putting him in charge of Africa’s most populous nation and its biggest economy.
To win the election, Buhari had needed more than 50 percent of the total votes nationally – and take at least 25 percent of the vote in two thirds of the states.
President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat to former Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, paving the way for an unprecedented peaceful transfer of power in Africa’s most populous nation.
“Nobody’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian,” Jonathan said in a statement in which he congratulated his successor on his victory. “I promised the country free and fair elections. I have kept my word.”
Celebrations erupted throughout Buhari’s strongholds in northern Nigeria and around his campaign headquarters in Abuja. Cars honked and people waved brooms in the air — a symbol of Buhari’s campaign promise to sweep out Nigeria’s endemic corruption.
Jonathan’s concession came before the final announcement of election results by the Independent National Electoral Commission and as Buhari prepared to address the nation.
Jonathan, whose five years in office have been plagued by corruption scandals and an insurgency by the Boko Haram group, was trailing by around 500,000 votes before votes in pro-opposition areas were counted.
There was a brief protest by Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before the counting had resumed on Tuesday.
Former Niger Delta minister Godsday Orubebe accused elections chief Attahiru Jega of being “partial” and “selective”.
Orubebe claimed Jega had refused to investigate PDP complaints about big wins by Buhari in northern states but had launched a probe into claims by the APC of irregularities in Rivers.
Jega said later: “I don’t believe that the allegations are substantial enough to require the cancellation or rescheduling of the elections in Rivers state. We will take the results.”
International observers gave broadly positive reactions to the conduct of the vote, despite late delivery of election materials and technical glitches with new voter authentication devices.
An Associated Press count of the final results showed Buhari winning more than 15.3 million votes to Jonathan’s 12.9 million. Buhari won 19 states to Jonathan’s 17 states and the small Federal Capital Territory.