Former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari has become the first opposition candidate to win presidential elections in Nigeria.
It is alleged Gen Buhari’s opponent, incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, had admitted defeat and congratulated him.
Mr Jonathan trailed Gen Buhari by about two million votes yesterday and the margin deepened when he conceded.
“President Jonathan called General Muhammadu Buhari, the winner of the elections, to congratulate him,” Lai Mohammed, a spokesman for Gen Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC), said.
He added, “He (Goodluck) will remain a hero for this move. The tension will go down dramatically”
“Anyone who tries to foment trouble on the account that they have lost the election will be doing so purely on his own,” he continued.
This win is a hugely significant moment in Nigeria’s turbulent history. Never before has a sitting president been defeated in an election.
Since its independence from Britain in 1960, Nigeria is known for fraudulent activities in its electoral process. There have been numerous coups and most elections have been rigged. Nevertheless, even though there will be many voters who are not pleased with this outcome, with Jonathan acknowledging defeat, it shows sign that democracy is deepening in Nigeria.
Otherwise, it is important to note that the poll has once again brought to the surface dangerous religious and regional differences and there is still a threat of violence.
And Goodluck Jonathan’s swift end of polls decision to make phone call to concede when some of his followers would have preferred to dig their heels in, has played a huge part today in trying to prevent the eruption of violence.
But why has Goodluck Jonathan lost?
According to nigerian political expert analysers 5 keys issues contributed to Jonathan lost.
1. this election was harder to rig.
Past elections have been marred by serious irregularities and suspicions of rigging. In 2007 observers said the presidential poll was not “credible”. In 2011 the vote was considered to be better run but observers said that rigging and fraud still took place.
This time the electoral commission took more steps to prevent rigging, including new biometric voters cards.
Also President Jonathan’s party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), had lost control of some key states which meant it could not control the electoral process there.
Another major contributor of peaceful acknowledgement of defeat is the political crisis in the west african country of Cote d’Ivoire, with the involvement of the international community and the international criminal court where president Gbagbo is awaiting trial.
2. the insurgence of Boko Haram and security issues.
The north-eastern state Kano, which has suffered from Boko Haram attacks, has seen business activity drop by 80 per cent in the past three years according to estimates from the local chamber of commerce.
The election took place against the background of an Islamist insurgency in the north-east of the country. The Boko Haram militant group has killed 20,000 people and forced some three million others from their homes and President Jonathan was criticised for not getting to grips with this.
The poll was delayed for six weeks to give time for the security situation to improve, but even though most areas controlled by Boko Haram were recaptured, it seems to have come too late for many people.
3. A united opposition against a crumbling and arrogant PDP (People’s Democratic Party)
When initially created The PDP was described as an election-winning machine. It then united a northern elite with leading politicians from the south, but that alliance has broken up and the party lost some key figures. Even former President Olusegun Obasanjo a former ally came out against Mr Jonathan.
At the same time, the opposition managed to unite under the All Progressives Congress (APC) banner. The last six weeks of desperate and dirty campaigning, in which the APC responded in kind, was not enough to turn the tide. The APC even lodged a application to the ICC (InternationaL Criminal Court) against the PDP and the incumbent president’s wife, Patience Goodluck, with the ICC promising to investigate matters further.
4. The economy wealth of Nigeria has not spread around the country
They see and live inequality everywhere and everyday. They are not feeling the benefits of the country wealth. Despite Nigeria’s status as an African economic powerhouse, poverty is still widespread.
According to the United Nations’ most recent multidimensional poverty index, over 67 per cent of Nigerians live below the poverty line. Grappling rising unemployment was very high. Buhari has promised to invest in mining and agriculture to boost employment outside of the oil industry.
People blame corruption and the government for their fate.
One of the biggest stains on the Goodluck Jonathan regime was allegations of corruption, and in particular a lack of transparency on oil revenues.
Over $20bn in oil revenue at the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is accused of being held back from the treasury. A PriceWaterhouseCoopers audit into the NNPC oil accounts has not been published by the government.
In recent months, The Central Bank of Nigeria has twice had to devalue the currency and raise its benchmark interest rate from 12 to 13 per cent.
5. For many it was time for a change
APC supporters chanted “change” wherever they went and it seems to have caught the mood. The PDP has been in power since the end of military rule in 1999, and 2015 is the year that Nigerians decided that someone else should have a go at sorting things out.
President-elect Buhari now has to prove he really can change things.