WASHINGTON - They were not able to vote in their country’s presidential and parliamentary elections, but the Nigerian diaspora has been watching developments in the West African nation very closely as they celebrate their newest leader.
“This is amazing. I am elated right now. We were stuck watching it on TV, following it step by step. This is the beginning of a new era, beginning of a new deal," said Olayemi Falusi, an attorney in the Washington, DC area.
"What just happened is monumental … the fact that [for] the past 50 years in our history the opposition has never won against the incumbent party.”
Falusi said Nigeria's democracy has really matured. He supported neither President Goodluck Jonathan nor president-elect Muhammadu Buhari, but hoped the new leader can address his concerns.
“I am ashamed to be a Nigerian in this day and age [when] the country that calls itself the giant of Africa [doesn't] t have constant electricity," he said. "Electricity is like the air that you breathe in. Your economy cannot grow without it."
"Number two, try to make a reduction in corruption. It’s hard to get zero corruption, but if we can reduce it I would consider his administration a successful administration.”
Omolola Adele-Oso, executive director and co-founder of Act4Accountability, an organization active in finding the missing Chibok girls in Nigeria, spoke of other issues.
“We are excited because it’s showing what civil society has actually been able to do - educating people about their voting rights and seeing a large turnout of people who have made sure their votes count. It’s also the first time we’ve actually had a televised count of the electoral vote,” she said.
Adele-Oso hopes that moving forward, president-elect Buhari can be held accountable to his campaign promises as well.
“Actually, I think the first thing they need to do is take a step back and reassess the rescue of the missing Chibok girls and all the individuals that have been kidnapped by Boko Haram.”
Evon Idahosa is an attorney in the U.S. and is an advocate for the rights of women and girls in Nigeria.
“My overwhelming sentiment is one of pride. It’s comforting to know that Nigerians have been able to do what a lot of people said could not be done in Nigeria, which is have the voice of the people heard,” he said.
Idahosa supported the only female candidate in the election and hopes that Buhari, when he assumes power at the end of May, follows through on his promises to focus on national security and prioritize average Nigerians and not the elite.