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Nigerian President's Re-election Rejected by Opposition Candidate

2019-2-27

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was declared the clear winner of the country’s presidential election on Wednesday.

Top opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar has rejected the election results. The former vice president said he would try to overturn the decision in court.

Buhari is nearing the end of his first term as president. During the election campaign, he appealed to voters to give him another chance to repair the country’s weak economy. Abubakar, a billionaire, offered campaign promises to “make Nigeria work again.”

Two major issues in Nigeria are insecurity and corruption. Many people are tired of politicians becoming rich in office. The former military dictator appeared to profit in the vote from his public image of having strong morals.

Supporters of Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari celebrate at the campaign headquarters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) party in Abuja, Nigeria, Feb. 26, 2019.
Supporters of Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari celebrate at the campaign headquarters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) party in Abuja, Nigeria, Feb. 26, 2019.

Buhari spoke after the election results were announced.

“I would like to make a special appeal to my supporters not to gloat. … Victory is enough reward for your efforts,” he said. The president also said he regretted the loss of many lives in violence before the voting.

Buhari promised that his administration will strengthen efforts in security, economic growth and fighting corruption.

In a prepared statement, Abubakar said he would have conceded “within seconds” if the vote had been free and fair. But he noted reports of cheating and problems in many of the country’s 36 states.

Abubakar said that voting was suppressed in parts of the south, where he has many followers. He also said that states threatened by an extremist militancy had “much higher voter turnouts” than in peaceful ones. He was also angry about the deployment of the military in some areas.

Election observers from the Civic Media Lab found that Borno State reported a 13 percent increase in voters. Borno is the state most affected by extremist violence.

Legal challenges to election results are not new in Nigeria. Buhari fought earlier election losses for months without success. The Supreme Court of Nigeria has never overturned a presidential election.

The president’s followers and aides said they expected a challenge. “There’s no opposition that will roll over and play dead,” said Hameed Ali, a member of Buhari’s ruling party.

The president’s supporters began dancing in the streets of Abuja on Tuesday night as vote counting showed him leading Abubakar by nearly 4 million votes.

Buhari received 15.1 million votes, or 55 percent, election officials said. Abubakar received 11.2 million, or 41 percent.

Buhari’s party rejected Abubakar’s claim that the results were false. It called on Abubakar to accept his defeat. “Let this nation move forward,” a campaign spokesman told The Associated Press.

Many Nigerians have prayed for peace during the long election campaign. Some people recalled the 2015 election, when President Goodluck Jonathan confirmed his loss to Buhari before official results were announced. It was the first defeat of a president seeking reelection in the country’s history.

Now Nigerians are getting prepared for a court fight.

I’m Susan Shand.

The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted the AP report for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

challenge – v. to say or show that (something) may not be true, correct or legal

gloat – v. to show in an improper or selfish way that you are happy with your own success or another person's failure

reward – n. something that is given or received for something that has been done or that is offered for something that might be done

concede – v. to say that you accept or do not deny the truth or existence of something