Nigeria’s elections 02.04.2015
Hail to democracy
The ousting of an incumbent president at the ballot box in Africa’s most populous country marks a hopeful step for democracy across the continent
ECSTATIC crowds engulfed Kano’s streets as it became clear that Muhammadu Buhari, a former military strongman who ruled Nigeria in the 1980s, had led an opposition party to victory in a presidential contest for the first time in the country’s history. Passengers piled on top of lorries waved the national flag as drivers honked their horns in northern Nigeria’s biggest city. Jubilant drumbeating revellers shouted the name of the man back in the seat of power after an absence of three decades.
“We will celebrate for seven days,” said Aliyu Haruna Aliyu, a farmer outside the headquarters of Mr Buhari’s All Progressives Congress. “We have won the most free and fair election ever to take place in Nigeria. This is a new Nigeria.”
It is indeed a watershed for Africa’s biggest democracy and most populous country, 170m-strong. The defeated president, Goodluck Jonathan, graciously conceded defeat, acknowledging that the rule of his People’s Democratic Party, unbroken since the generals gave way to a civilian government in 1999, had ended.
Mr Buhari, a northern Muslim who led a coup in 1983, had fought the three previous elections in vain. This time he won all the northern states but also made inroads in the south and centre, easily meeting the electoral requirement that the winner must get at least a quarter of the votes in two-thirds of the 36 states to show support across the tribal and sectarian spectrum.