Three decades after seizing power in a military coup, General Muhammadu Buhari became the first Nigerian to oust a president through the ballot box, putting him in charge of Africa’s biggest economy and one of its most turbulent democracies, Reuters has confirmed.
As the scale of last weekend’s electoral landslide became clear, President Goodluck Jonathan called Buhari on Tuesday to concede defeat to the opposition leader, Buhari’s camp said, an unprecedented step that should help to defuse anger among Jonathan’s supporters.
A final tally of the results compiled by Reuters gave the sandal-wearing and ascetic Buhari 15.4 million votes against 13.3 million for Jonathan, a margin of victory that is likely to render any legal challenges irrelevant.
The elections were largely a smooth affair, save for a few technical problems and some mild violence in some parts of the country. However, the chaos was significantly less than in previous elections, a reality that pushed the stock market up more than 2 percent towards a three-month high. The naira also held steady at 218 against the dollar on the black market.
Buhari’s inner circle acknowledged the hard work ahead in building bridges in a country of 170 million people split along ethnic, religious and regional lines. He must also deal with the fallout from a dive in global oil prices in the last eight months which has hammered the economy, squeezed state revenues and forced two de facto devaluations of the currency, the naira.