The votes have been counted and a peaceful transition is promised following the March 28 presidential election in Nigeria. In his fourth democratic bid for office, former Head of State Muhammadu Buhari was declared the winner in a tightly contested race by more than 2.5 million votes. His victory, and the gracious concession by President Goodluck Jonathan, represents a potentially transformative moment for Africa’s largest democracy, as well as an example of peaceful political change for the rest of the continent.
The United States congratulates the people of Nigeria and their government on the historic and largely peaceful elections the weekend of March 28. We especially applaud all voters who showed patience and demonstrated their commitment to participate in the democratic process. We congratulate President-elect Buhari and reiterate our commitment to work with the newly elected government that emerges from this exercise in democracy.
We commend Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission and its Chairman, Attahiru Jega, on the generally orderly vote, on the use of technology such as card readers to increase the credibility and transparency of the electoral process, and on prompt communication of the results. While we note reports of logistical problems, such incidents did not undermine the overall outcome of the election.
Nigeria is an increasingly important strategic partner and has a critical role to play in the security and prosperity of this continent and beyond. Thus it was imperative that the vote be an improvement over past elections and that they set a new standard for this democracy. That means that Nigerians needed to not only reject violence, but actually promote peace.
We commend President Jonathan for his years of service and for having acted in the best interests of his country. And we welcome his calls for unity and calm during this transition period.
Many challenges lie ahead for the new government. Continuing the fight against and ending the threat of Boko Haram, promoting economic growth, improving government services for the people, professionalizing the nation’s security services and dealing with endemic corruption would test any leader. The people of Nigeria, however, have made it clear they expect change to fulfill the promise of their great nation.