An ecstatic All Progressives Congress (APC) spokesman Lai Mohammed said, “This is the first time in Nigeria that a sitting government will be voted out of power using purely democratic means.”
Although votes are still being counted, numbers show former military ruler Muhammadu Bhuari ahead by about three million. Only one of the 36 states remains before official numbers are given. Buhari had 15.1 million votes compared to 11.7 million for Jonathan.
Analysts are saying it’s hard to imagine how Mr. Jonathan could possibly overcome this lead.
This is the first time the opposition has ever won a presidential election in Nigeria. Observers continue to praise the election turnout even though there have been allegations of fraud, which could turn into protests and violence.
The country’s first democratic transfer of power was witnessed by millions on television as “the people of Nigeria have taken over,” said Mohammed.
Buhari ruled from 1983 to 1985 before being ousted in military takeover led by General Ibrahim Babangida. He has since declared himself a convert to democracy and has run and lost in several previous elections.
Jonathan’s five years at the helm have been plagued by corruption scandals and a Boko Haram Islamist insurgency in the northeast in which thousands have been killed. The PDP has run Nigeria since the end of military rule in 1999.
For a first round victory, candidates need 25 percent in 24 states.