News / Africa

Jonathan Declared Winner of Nigeria's Presidential Election

A man jumps during a demonstration in Nigeria's northern city of Kano where running battles broke out between protesters and soldiers on April 18, 2011
A man jumps during a demonstration in Nigeria's northern city of Kano where running battles broke out between protesters and soldiers on April 18, 2011

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has won a presidential election in a vote that has sparked rioting in the country's northern states that backed his leading opponent.  

With results from all of Nigeria's 36 states, electoral commission president Attahiru Jega announced that President Jonathan is the clear winner.

"Goodluck E. Jonathan of PDP, having certified the requirements of the law and scored the highest number of votes is hereby declared the winner and his return elected," said Jega.

President Jonathan's nearly 22.5 million votes is almost twice the number of the second-place finisher, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, who won a little more than 12 million votes.  President Jonathan avoids a runoff election by winning at least one-quarter of the vote in at least 24 states.

That provision is meant to ensure that a Nigerian president has some measure of national support and is not merely a regional candidate.  But much of the vote appears to have broken down along regional lines, with President Jonathan winning the south and Mr. Buhari winning the north.

Early results showing Mr. Jonathan in the lead led to rioting in parts of the mainly Muslim north.  In Kaduna state, Vice President Namadi Sambo's home was burned and a 24-hour curfew was imposed after a prison was raided and inmates set free.

In the capital of Kano state, security forces fired shots into the air as stone-throwing youths took to the streets and chanted support for Mr. Buhari. Human Rights Watch says at least 60 people have been killed in election-related violence since the first of the month.

In his acceptance speech, President Jonathan said his government is taking all necessary measures to guarantee the lives and property of all Nigerians.

"I enjoin our political and religious leaders in their usual sense of patriotism to call on their followers to eschew all acts of bitterness and violence," said President Jonathan. "As I have always stated, nobody's political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian."

Mr. Jonathan thanked God and Nigeria's voters for the opportunity to run the country.

"By this election, we have found our unity as one nation under God, have reiterated our faith in democracy and underscored our determination to fully join the free world where only the will of the people is the foundation of governance.  We will not let you down." he said.

President Jonathan said there is no victor and no vanquished as Nigeria proved to the world that it is capable of holding free, fair and credible elections.

"This is a victory for the sustenance of our democracy, a victory which all Nigerians - irrespective of creed, ethnicity or state of origin - should celebrate," said jonathan. "It is a triumph for our common destiny as a people with shared ideals, shared dreams and shared hopes."

Mr. Jonathan congratulated the other candidates and said the country expects their continued leadership and commitment to nation-building.  The president said Nigerians must move away from partisan battlegrounds and find a national common ground to build a prosperous nation.   

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