As Buhari extends lead in Nigerian election, hope is for peaceful outcome

As Nigerian opposition presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari extends his lead over incumbent Goodluck Jonathan by some 2.5 million votes, residents in Lagos hope for a peaceful outcome.

LAGOS, NIGERIA (MARCH 31, 2015) (REUTERS) – Residents in Nigeria’s Lagos expressed hope for a peaceful end to the country’s presidential elections on Tuesday (March 31).

Results were pouring in on Tuesday with opposition contender Muhammadu Buhari building a lead of over 2.5 million votes with only six states uncounted.

This raises the prospect of a stunning ballot box victory for a man who first came to power three decades ago via a military coup.

The 72-year-old general who has campaigned as a born-again democrat intent on cleaning up the corrupt politics of Africa’s most populous nation notched up 12.9 million votes, according to a tally collated by Reuters from 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states.

This compared to 10.2 million votes for President Goodluck Jonathan, a one-time zoology professor whose five years at the helm of the continent’s biggest economy and top oil producer have been plagued by corruption scandals and a bloody insurgency by Islamist Boko Haram militants.

“You don’t have to be a professor, you don’t need to be a PHD holder to do these simple, simple calculations. We know the number of people who are registered in every part of the state. Everybody is informed on their phones so nobody can fool Nigerians. We want the truth and we want the truth to prevail and Nigeria to move forward and there won’t be any problem in any part of Nigeria. If the numbers change it means they are looking for trouble which we don’t pray for, we don’t want trouble in this country. Nigeria is a peace loving country. If you observe our election it was peaceful, everybody was doing his business can you see we are not fighting ourselves. We are only trying to iron things out. What we understand is what we are seeing. Ordinary Nigerians have all the calculations. Likewise on our phones we have all the calculations. And what we have on net and what we hear from friends is the same thing,” Lagos resident, Salisu Matthew said.

“We just hope that the results come out and there is peace everywhere because there is still panic presently around Lagos because of the result. Most people are not going to work, people are still waiting back for the results to be released so that they know if there will be chaos or not. But we thank God that everything is going fine,” said Oluwa Seun, resident in Lagos.

Another resident in Lagos, Owoyemi Kassan says hopes are high that Buhari will be announced as the winner of the presidential elections.

“Go and check different editorials, you will see that there is something very glaring that Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians have voted for him massively. The only problem is that we don’t want a situation where people start taking the law into their own hands. Buhari is leading and we are very sure that…. Nigerians are very sure that Buhari will be the next president of this country,” he said.

World powers and international investors are closely watching the conduct of the poll to see whether one of Africa’s most important states can improve its patchy record.

The weekend vote was marred by technical glitches, arguments and occasional violence but in many places proved to be less chaotic than previous elections in the country of 170 million, which only got rid of military rule in 1999.

At least 15 people were shot dead on polling day, most of them in the northeast where Boko Haram has declared war on democracy in its fight to revive a mediaeval caliphate in the sands of the southern Sahara.

The United States and Britain said that after the vote there were worrying signs of political interference in the centralised tallying of the results.

Fitch cut Nigeria’s credit outlook to negative early on Monday, citing the political uncertainty.

However, the stock market climbed 1.7 percent, narrowly missing a three-week high in its seventh consecutive day in the black as domestic investors bet on a relatively smooth outcome.

Bonds also gained, dealers said. The naira traded at 218 against the dollar on the black market, roughly in line with its levels before the election.

The northern city of Kaduna, the epicenter of three days of bloodletting after Buhari lost to Jonathan in 2011, was tense but quiet as results trickled in, with the roads void of traffic and many shops and homes shuttered.