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Nigerians Re-Elect Muhammadu Buhari As President


Nigeria's incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari, has been re-elected. He defeated his main opponent by almost 4 million votes. But that opponent says he will challenge the results in court. From the capital Abuja, NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Just gone 4:30 a.m. local time, after a marathon session reading out results from 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, came this announcement from Mahmood Yakubu, head of Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission.


MAHMOOD YAKUBU: Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress scored the highest number of votes. He's hereby declared winner and is returned elected.

QUIST-ARCTON: So 76-year-old Buhari and erstwhile military leader is back in power for a second term. But the People's Democratic Party of Buhari's main opposition challenger, Atiku Abubakar, immediately challenged the outcome. He says there was manifest and premeditated malpractice in many states. Atiku's PDP party says last Saturday's delayed election was flawed, with countless irregularities. And party spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan indicated a likely court petition.


KOLA OLOGBONDIYAN: I think, in the history of this country, this would appear to be the worst election. For us in the People's Democratic Party, the result is totally unacceptable. The election was fraught with discrepancies. For instance, in our areas of strength, in peaceful states, our votes were reduced.


QUIST-ARCTON: Over at President Buhari's campaign headquarters late last night, music was pumping out of loudspeakers as supporters and staffers prepared to celebrate his victory. In the very early hours, in this acceptance speech, Buhari thanked his campaign team and Nigerians.



QUIST-ARCTON: The president said, "I thank millions of Nigerians who voted for me as their president for the next four years. I am deeply humbled and profoundly grateful to you for judging me worthy of continuing to serve you." Buhari said he was saddened by the loss of life during the elections, which he said were relatively peaceful, though troublemakers in a handful of states had attempted to disrupt an otherwise orderly process, he said. Nigeria's leader appealed to his supporters not to gloat or humiliate the opposition, saying, "victory is enough reward for your efforts."

Political analyst and editor-in-chief of Daily Trust newspaper Mannir Dan Ali says Buhari has a tough four years ahead. And before that, he may well face the opposition taking the legal route denouncing the election results.

MANNIR DAN ALI: What is very clear now is that the opposition is going to challenge it legally in the court because it believes that some of the results cannot stand. I think it is very unlikely that the election may be repeated, but it depends on the court. But it's sometimes long-drawn. It could take quite a while before the whole challenge is seen through.

QUIST-ARCTON: Which could become a headache for a re-elected President Buhari as he tries to press on with his election pledges to boost the economy and create jobs while fighting insecurity and corruption in Nigeria. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Abuja.

(SOUNDBITE OF NOMO'S "THREE SHADES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is an award-winning broadcaster from Ghana and is NPR's Africa Correspondent. She describes herself as a "jobbing journalist"—who's often on the hoof, reporting from somewhere.