Nigeria’s Jonathan concedes defeat, celebrations in Katsina

Goodluck Jonathan concedes defeat in Nigeria’s presidential elections, as celebrations erupt in Buhari’s home state.

ABUJA, NIGERIA (MARCH 31, 2015) (REUTERS) – Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan called his opposition challenger Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday (March 31) to concede defeat in the weekend’s elections, a former president, Abdulsalami Abubakar said.

At the presidential villa in Nigeria’s capital city, President Jonathan met with political associates, elder statesmen and the former president to discuss the results of the poll.

After the meeting Abubakar said Jonathan had called Buhari to congratulate him on his win.

“We were at the middle of a meeting with the international observers to try to see how we can still water the tension down, when gladly I called General Buhari that we are going to see him. He told me that Mr. President has called him at about 5:15 and congratulated him and conceded defeat. We were spellbound and the reason we have come here is to thank President Jonathan for this statesmanship,” he said.

Meanwhile in Buhari’s home state of Katsina, supporters poured onto the streets to celebrate the news.

Children swept the street with brooms – the official party symbol for Buhari’s opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) party.

“I’m very excited today and I don’t even know what to say because I have witnessed about nine elections but it’s only this time that I’m very happy, because it is a free and fair election. I pray that God gives them the wisdom to do justice to Nigeria,” said local resident, Hammed.

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.

Buhari supporters said it was a historic moment.

“Well, actually it’s, it’s really amazing. Honestly I can just say how I feel because it’s a long awaited day. All I can say is we thank the Almighty God for making it possible for us to witness this historic day in our lives and I wish Nigeria success,” said Yusuf Lawal.

Former ruler Buhari seized power in a 1983 coup only to be ousted 18 months later by another general. Since then Buhari has declared himself a convert to democracy, running and losing several elections but always coming back for more on a ticket of cleaning up Nigeria’s dirty politics.

Before Jonathan conceded defeat, Buhari received a tacit endorsement from Washington, with a U.S. official acknowledging his role in building a “new” Nigeria, a pillar of a rapidly modernising and growing continent.