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Nigerian President Concedes Election To Opposition Candidate

Supporters of opposition candidate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari's All Progressives Congress party celebrate in Kano, northern Nigeria, on Monday.
Ben Curtis
Supporters of opposition candidate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari's All Progressives Congress party celebrate in Kano, northern Nigeria, on Monday.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has called his rival to congratulate him on his victory.

The AP reports that opposition presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari's campaign said Jonathan made the call on Tuesday, after partial election results showed Buhari leading by close to 3 million votes.

The AP reports:

"An aide in Jonathan's offices says the president is preparing to make a speech. ...

"Celebrations have erupted all over Buhari's strongholds in northern Nigeria, but the streets of Abuja, the capital, are deserted amid fears of violence from Jonathan's supporters in the south."

With the partial results, The New York Times also projected Buhari as the winner.

The only outstanding votes come from the north of the country, the paper reported, "where Mr. Buhari enjoys broad support and the government has been widely condemned for allowing the Boko Haram militant group to sweep through villages and towns, killing thousands of civilians."

As we reported, voting in the presidential contest took place amid continued violence. Over the weekend, Boko Haram militants opened fire on voters in two locations, leaving six dead.

As the BBC reports, a sitting president has never lost an election in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country and one of the world's biggest democracies.

The big issue in the country, of course, has been Jonathan's inability to control Boko Haram's Islamist insurrection in the north of the country. Buhari, a former general who ruled the country for a couple of years following a coup, campaigned on getting tough on corruption.

As for the election results, the BBC's Abuja correspondent sounded a note of caution:

"There are long faces in the PDP camp. It looks like Muhammadu Buhari's lead may well prove too wide to be bridged.

"But this is Nigeria and predictions are dangerous. The biggest surprise would be if the result is not disputed by the losing side.

"During the vote, the card readers experienced some technical glitches, but they could prove to be decisive in ensuring the numbers could not be cooked and the views of Nigerians could not be ignored."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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