Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has called challenger Muhammadu Buhari to concede and congratulate him on his electoral victory, the country’s aviation minister said.
The move paves the way for a peaceful transfer of power in Africa’s richest and most populous nation. Celebrations erupted all over Mr Buhari’s strongholds in northern Nigeria and around his campaign headquarters in Abuja.
Car horns honked and people waved brooms in the air – a symbol of Mr Buhari’s campaign promise to sweep out Nigeria’s endemic corruption.
Mr Jonathan called Mr Buhari, 72, to congratulate him yesterday evening, thus conceding defeat, aviation minister Osita Chidoka told the Associated Press. Mr Chidoka is close to the man who has governed Nigeria for the past five years.
Mr Jonathan was to make an address to the nation and Mr Buhari was preparing to address a news conference.
This is the first time in Nigeria’s history that an opposition party has democratically taken control of the country from the ruling party – a sign of the West African nation’s maturing young democracy. Mr Jonathan’s party has governed since decades of military dictatorship ended in 1999.
Mr Jonathan’s concession came before the final announcement of election results by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Results of all but one of the 36 states and the Federal Captial Territory showed Mr Buhari, a former military dictator, had inflicted a crushing defeat to Mr Jonathan.
Earlier, Mr Buhari’s spokesman Garba Shehu told the Associated Press that Mr Buhari feared his victory could be stolen by “tricks” from the government.
Mr Jonathan’s campaign leaders have previously denied a warning from Britain and the United States that they suspected possible political meddling in the final tally of votes from Saturday’s election.