Celebrations as Buhari claims victory in Nigeria poll

There are celebrations on the streets of Nigeria, as former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari declares victory in the country’s presidential elections.

KADUNA, NIGERIA (MARCH 31, 2015) (REUTERS) – Nigeria’s opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) declared an election victory on Tuesday (March 31) for former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari and said Africa’s most populous nation was witnessing history with its first democratic transfer of power.

The news prompted hundreds of Nigerians to stream down the main street of the flashpoint northern city of Kaduna, waving flags and chanting in celebration.

The city had been calm and deserted for most of the day, with residents indoors, glued to their radio and television sets watching the national electoral commission announce the results of the March 28 presidential vote.

As it became apparent that Buhari held an unassailable lead, many began emerging from their homes, shouting in celebration.

“I am out because I am happy about the change of government. Buhari has been very patient,” said local resident Farida Abubakar.

“We are out on the street because we are happy, we need change in Nigeria. A lot of things has been happening, we are not happy, a lot of our kids have been killed and our kids don’t have jobs. We want change in the country, we want a turn around, we want things to change at least we have tested other parties, now we want to test APC, if they’re not doing well, we kick them out,” added local businesswoman Khadija Usman.

The count showed Buhari steamrolling to a landslide against President Goodluck Jonathan, whose People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has made no comment since the scale of the political earthquake in Nigeria — Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer — has become apparent.

With just one of 36 states left to declare, Buhari’s APC had 15.1 million votes versus 11.7 for Jonathan and the PDP, according to a Reuters tally.

In Nigeria’s commercial city, Lagos, residents also celebrated the news.

One man said Buhari had already proved himself in the 1980s.

“The general has ruled this country before, between 83 and 84 as a military ruler, and then we know what he did, and we are very optimistic that this time around he will do more than that and we are very, very hopeful that he will do the bidding of the masses because today the masses of Nigeria have spoken,” said businessman Adewale Mutilib.

“It’s going to be historic because we’re going to have a change of power,” said Lagos resident Adekunle Akeem.

Buhari ruled from 1983 to 1985 before being ousted in another 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.

Jonathan called Buhari to concede defeat, the APC said, as the final tally was awaited from the Independent National Election Commission.