World

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari re-elected

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been declared the winner of a second term at the helm of Africa's largest economy and top oil producer.

76-year-old is a former military ruler who took office in 2015

Muhammadu Buhari, 76, has won a second term as Nigerian president with pledges to fight corruption while overhauling the country's creaking road and rail network. (Sunday Alamba/Associated Press)

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been declared the winner of a second term at the helm of Africa's largest economy and top oil producer. Nigeria's electoral commission confirmed the victory late Tuesday night. 

The former military dictator won easily, by nearly 4 million votes, despite widespread criticism that he had not delivered enough on his promises to fight corruption and insecurity and strengthen the economy.

Top opposition challenger Atiku Abubakar made sweeping pledges to lift millions of people out of poverty, but in the end many Nigerians were wary of past corruption allegations and his proposal to privatize the state oil company in Africa's largest producer of crude.

In Nigeria, the candidate with the most votes nationwide is declared winner as long as they have at least one-quarter of the vote in two-thirds of the country's 36 states and the capital, otherwise there is a runoff.

The African country is struggling to emerge from a 2016 recession and corruption is rife. A decade-old Islamist insurgency has killed thousands of people in the northeast, many of them civilians.

47 killed since Saturday

Buhari, 76, is a former military ruler who took office in 2015 and sought a second term with pledges to fight corruption while overhauling the country's creaking road and rail network.

Voting took place on Saturday after a week-long delay, which the election commission said was due to logistical problems.
Police officers secured the entrance to the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Yola. Voting took place on Saturday after a week-long delay, which the election commission said was due to logistical problems. (Sunday Alamba/Associated Press)
Observers from the Economic Community of West African States, the African Union and the United Nations appealed to all parties to await the official results before filing complaints.
 
But the event — Africa's largest democratic exercise — has been marred by violence in which 47 people have been killed since Saturday, according to the Situation Room, a monitoring organization linking various civic groups.

Some of the deaths took place after gangs allied to either of the leading parties clashed with each other and police over theft of ballot boxes and vote fraud. Police have not yet provided casualty figures.

More than 260 people have been killed in total since the start of the election campaign in October. The toll is lower than in previous elections, but in the past the worst unrest broke out after results were announced.

Mixed reaction

On the streets of Abuja, people had mixed reactions to the way the election unfolded in a country where six decades of independence have been marked by long periods of military rule, coups and secessionist wars.

Mary Erondu, a civil servant, said people had been going yard to yard in her neighbourhood, collecting voters' names and phones numbers.

"They will give them money, and I am not lying," she said, without saying which party was doing this.

Silas Igbo, a businessman, took a more conciliatory view. 

"We have seen the results," he said, "and Nigerians have no other option than to accept the results for peace to reign."
 

With files from The Associated Press

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