Nigerian election winner Muhammadu Buhari congratulated outgoing president Goodluck Jonathan for peacefully relinquishing power on Wednesday, a day after becoming the first Nigerian politician to unseat a sitting leader at the ballot box. In an unprecedented step, Jonathan phoned Buhari to concede defeat and issued a statement urging his supporters to accept the result, a signal of deepening democracy in Africa’s most populous nation that few had expected. “President Jonathan was a worthy opponent and I extend the hand of fellowship to him,” Buhari told journalists and supporters to loud applause, wearing a black cap and kaftan.
“We have proven to the world that we are people who have embraced democracy. We have put one-party state behind us.”
The 72-year-old general, who first came to power three decades ago via a military coup, campaigned as a born-again democrat intent on cleaning up the corrupt politics of Africa’s most populous nation.
The margin of victory – Buhari got 15.4 million votes to Jonathan’s 13.3 million – was enough to prevent any challenge.