We want unity and peace, say Nigerians, as Buhari defeats Jonathan

2015-04-01 07:49

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News about Nigeria’s new president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, was slow to filter to the people on the streets of Lagos late yesterday after two days of elections results announcements.

While many people were making their way home in rush hour traffic, President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat to his rival and congratulated him by phone.

“We are happy about the election,” Innocence Igah said as he made his way home. He was one of the more than 15 million people who voted for Buhari in Nigeria’s elections on Saturday.

“We will have a celebration in our area at home,” he said, adding that he wanted Buhari to change “everything that went wrong” under Jonathan.

“No more bad luck for us,” he joked as he walked away, in a wry reference to Jonathan’s first name.

Not everyone was happy. Priscilla Eze sat on a low cement wall braiding weaves into her 7-year-old daughter’s hair, looking somewhat forlorn. She was under the impression that the final results would only be announced today and that Jonathan still stood a chance.

“I wanted my party [the People’s Democratic Party] to win. My prayer is, now that it is Buhari, that we will have peace. It was the will of God that he won. In the beginning we prayed for the will of God to be done,” she said.

Innocence Chima was also gracious in defeat. He said Buhari’s win was the will of the majority. “The will of the majority is final, but if there is anything behind what he is doing [corruption], the people will see it. Whoever there is is the right person, and it is okay. There is no reason for making trouble.

“Love and unity and peace is what we want in Nigeria,” he said.

Lagos – where only 29% of registered voters turned out to hand Buhari the narrow victory – was still unusually quiet yesterday because people were nervous about going to work because of concerns about violence following the final results announcements.

Hawkers in the usually bustling markets on Lagos Island stayed at home on Monday and yesterday during the protracted results announcements, which were televised live by the local Channels Television from Abuja.

Those people who did make it to work, and who were in public places with televisions, came to a standstill as results were announced from the chief electoral officers from each of the 36 states.

A loud and protracted protest by a former Niger Delta minister and PDP member, Godsday Orubebe, disrupted election announcements for about 20 minutes in the Independent National Electoral Commission’s results announcement centre in Abuja.

He accused the commission's chairperson Attahiru Jega of being “tribalistic and partial”.

The situation was later diffused and he left still unhappy.

Jega also shortly after announced that the petition by the All Progressives Congress about election difficulties in Rivers State failed, and that the results would be read out.

Buhari managed a close but convincing victory, beating Jonathan by about two million votes in an election that saw some difficulties with voting card machines but that was billed as successful by outside observers.

A final tally of the results compiled by Reuters gave Buhari 15.4 million votes against 13.3 million for Jonathan.

Fears of major disruptions by terror group Boko Haram failed to materialise.

Buhari managed a win in 20 out of the country’s 36 states.

James Schneider, editorial director for New Africa Magazine, tweeted from Abuja that cars were hooting as the results announcements came to a close.

Buhari congratulated Jonathan for peacefully relinquishing power, Reuters reported.

“President Jonathan was a worthy opponent and I extend the hand of fellowship to him,” Buhari told journalists and supporters today to loud applause.

“We have proven to the world that we are people who have embraced democracy. We have put the one-party state behind us.”

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