Nigeria's Buhari wins historic election landslide
Updated: 2015-04-01 10:26
Supporters of the presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressive Congress (APC) party celebrate in Kano March 31, 2015. Three decades after seizing power in a military coup, Buhari became the first Nigerian to oust a president through the ballot box, putting him in charge of Africa's biggest economy and one of its most turbulent democracies. [Photo/Agencies]
ABUJA - Three decades after seizing power in a military coup, Muhammadu Buhari became the first Nigerian to oust a president through the ballot box, putting him in charge of Africa's biggest economy and one of its most turbulent democracies.
As the scale of this weekend's electoral landslide became clear, President Goodluck Jonathan called Buhari on Tuesday to concede defeat to the opposition leader, an unprecedented step that should help to defuse anger among Jonathan's supporters.
In the religiously mixed northern city of Kaduna, where 800 people were killed in violence after the last elections in 2011, Buhari supporters streamed onto the streets, waving flags and dancing and singing in celebration.
In a short concessional statement, Jonathan wished his opponent well and urged his supporters to keep their cool, saying nobody's political ambition was "worth the blood of any Nigerian".
"The unity, stability and progress of our dear country is more important than anything else," he said.
Yet his supporters in the volatile Niger Delta, his home region and the heart of Africa's biggest oil and gas industry, were despondent.
"Goodluck is a stupid man for conceding, a disappointment for Nigeria," one waitress in the oil city of Port Harcourt said, throwing a beer bottle top at a fridge.
Jonathan's People's Democratic Party (PDP) has been in charge since the end of army rule in 1999 but had been losing popularity due to a string of corruption scandals and the rise of Boko Haram's Islamist insurgency in the northeast.
"At about five minutes to 5, President Jonathan called General Muhammadu Buhari, the winner of the elections, to congratulate him," Lai Mohammed, a spokesman for Buhari's All Progressives Congress (APC), told reporters at the party's headquarters in the capital, Abuja.
"There had always been this fear that he might not want to concede but he will remain a hero for this move," he added. "The tension will go down dramatically."
Around him, women in brightly coloured dresses danced and sang, ululating in celebration.
A final tally of the results compiled by Reuters gave the sandal-wearing and ascetic Buhari 15.4 million votes against 13.3 million for Jonathan, a margin of victory that is likely to render any legal challenges irrelevant.