Tensions were building in Nigeria on Sunday as partial results from presidential elections, posted unofficially on the internet, raised expectations of an unprecedented opposition victory for former military ruler, Muhammadu Buhari. Aides to President Goodluck Jonathan insisted the incumbent was still on course to secure the result and cautioned against numbers that had yet to be given a final stamp of approval by the Independent National Electoral Commission. “There is lots of hype and both sides are selectively putting up things on line. But we have been collecting results from units across the country,” said Deameari Von Kemedi, a lead campaigner for Mr Jonathan. “According to our own internal projections, although we do not have the complete picture yet, we project a Jonathan victory.”
The conflicting claims stoked apprehension, with many Nigerians worried that either outcome could trigger violence by supporters of the rival candidates. Civil society activists were meanwhile wary of last-minute attempts to manipulate the result.
Nigeria’s elections are among the most important tests of multi-party democracy in Africa, with the incumbent hold on power facing a threat for the first time in the 16 years since the military handed power back to elected civilians.
The build-up has been tense, with polls delayed by six weeks to allow the military more time to pin down Boko Haram insurgents threatening to disrupt the process in parts of the predominately Muslim north, and the rhetoric from all sides becoming increasingly toxic.