Buhari hails victory in his­toric Nige­ria elec­tion

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY BEN SIMON AND OLA AWONIYI

Pres­i­dent- elect Muham­madu Buhari on Wed­nes­day hailed his his­toric elec­tion victory af­ter Nige­ri­ans broke the cy­cle of one-party gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary rule with a demo­cratic trans­fer of power at the bal­lot box.

The 72-year-old de­feated in­cum­bent Good­luck Jonathan by 2.57 mil­lion votes in a win de­scribed by U.N. Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon as “tes­ta­ment to the ma­tu­rity of Nige­ria’s democ­racy. Buhari also sin­gled out Jonathan for states­man­ship in con­ced­ing de­feat, which was hailed as an ex­am­ple for the rest of Africa, where lead­ers have all too of­ten sought to cling to power at any cost.

“Our coun­try has now joined the com­mu­nity of na­tions that have used the bal­lot box to peace­fully change an in­cum­bent pres­i­dent in a free and fair elec­tion,” Buhari said in a speech in Abuja.

“To me this is in­deed his­toric,” the for­mer mil­i­tary ruler-turned­demo­crat told sup­port­ers, adding: “We have put the one-party state be­hind us.”

State as­sem­bly and gu­ber­na­to­rial elec­tions are still due on April 11 be­fore Jonathan’s man­date ex­pires on April 30 and Buhari is sworn in on May 29.

Philip Ham­mond, for­eign min­is­ter for Nige­ria’s for­mer colo­nial mas­ter the United King­dom, said: “It is now im­por­tant for both par­ties to en­sure the tran­si­tion to a new gov­ern­ment re­mains peace­ful.”

Chal­lenges Ahead

Buhari’s victory, con­firmed in the early hours of Wed­nes­day, came af­ter a grip­ping con­test hit by glitches with new voter tech­nol­ogy, claims of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and fears of Boko Haram vi­o­lence.

Mass poll-re­lated un­rest which has blighted the af­ter­math of pre­vi­ous votes in Africa’s most pop­u­lous na­tion failed to ma­te­ri­al­ize.

In­stead Buhari sup­port­ers thronged the streets, many of them bran­dish­ing wicker brooms, his party’s sym­bol, with which they have pledged to sweep away years of gov­ern­ment cor­rup­tion and waste.

The victory wrote a new chap­ter in Nige­ria’s of­ten tur­bu­lent po­lit­i­cal his­tory af­ter six mil­i­tary coups since in­de­pen­dence in 1960 and 16 years of un­bro­ken civil­ian rule by Jonathan’s party.

In Kaduna, a flash­point state in the north cen­tral re­gion where many of the 1,000 peo­ple who lost their lives af­ter the last elec­tions in 2011 were killed, there were ju­bi­lant scenes of cel­e­bra­tion.

Mus­lims in the re­li­giously mixed state bought cows, chick­ens and sheep to slaugh­ter but some re­flected on the huge chal­lenges that lie ahead for the in­com­ing pres­i­dent.

It was a dif­fer­ent story in Jonathan’s home town of Otuoke, in Bayelsa state, in the oil-rich south­ern delta re­gion, where near to­tal sup­port for the pres­i­dent was not enough for him to cling on to power.

But oth­ers in the Chris­tian south raised fears of marginal­iza­tion by Buhari, a north­ern Mus­lim, lay­ing bare Nige­ria’s re­li­gious and eth­nic fault-lines that he will have to work hard to over­come.

Buhari will also be watched closely for any signs of the au­to­cratic crack­down on cor­rup­tion and “in­dis­ci­pline” that char­ac­ter­ized his 20 months as head of a mil­i­tary regime in in the 1980s.

Demo­cratic Le­gacy

Fo­cus for the mo­ment, how­ever, was on the un­prece­dented op­po­si­tion victory that came af­ter mount­ing dis­sat­is­fac­tion at Jonathan’s han­dling of the Boko Haram cri­sis, cor­rup­tion and the econ­omy.

“Nige­ri­ans give Buhari man­date to change Nige­ria,” fi­nan­cial daily Busi­ness­Day said on its front page, as­sess­ing that in con­ced­ing de­feat peace­fully, Jonathan’s big­gest le­gacy would be democ­racy.

“To des­per­ate politi­cians and those within the po­lit­i­cal class who be­lieve that power is not tran­sient, Jonathan may seem naive and be­spoke of a weak leader,” it said in an ed­i­to­rial.

“But for us, it is a demon­stra­tion of un­com­mon strength and po­lit­i­cal ma­tu­rity ... Jonathan has earned the rep­u­ta­tion of a pres­i­dent who de­liv­ered gen­uine democ­racy in Nige­ria.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.