Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president-elect, said Wednesday that President Goodluck Jonathan has “nothing to fear” after losing power. Buhari, a 72-year-old former military dictator, offered praise and friendship to the incumbent, who lost the bitterly contested election by a few million votes.
“Let me state clearly that President Jonathan has nothing to fear from me. Although we may not agree on the methods of governing the nation, he is a great Nigerian and still our president,” Buhari said Wednesday, according to the Premium Times in Nigeria. “But despite the rancor of the elections, I extend a hand of friendship and conciliation to President Jonathan and his team. I hereby wish to state that I harbor no ill will against anyone."
The Independent National Electoral Commission presented the president-elect with the certificate of return ratifying his victory earlier Wednesday. Jonathan, who was seeking a second full term, delivered his concession speech late Tuesday after calling Buhari to congratulate him.
“I promised the country free and fair elections. I have kept my word,” he said, according to the Premium Times. “Today, the PDP [Peoples Democratic Party] should be celebrating rather than mourning. We have established a legacy of democratic freedom, transparency, economic growth and free and fair elections.”
Jonathan earned international praise for conceding defeat, while Buhari received a warm welcome from foreign leaders. “We welcome President Jonathan’s calls for unity and calm during this transition period,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement Wednesday. “Finally, we extend our congratulations to President-elect Buhari. The United States reiterates its commitment to working with the newly elected government that emerges from this democratic process.”
Meanwhile, Jonathan’s PDP has called on the INEC to cancel the election results in populous Lagos state and accused Buhari’s All Progressives Congress of manipulating the outcome there, the Daily Post in Nigeria reported Wednesday.
“We hereby reject outright all the established manipulated results and the concocted victory given in favor of APC in Lagos state,” Tunji Shelle, the state chairman of the PDP, said Wednesday. “We are protesting in the strongest terms the deliberate and unconscionable complicity of INEC officials with the APC in Lagos state to thwart and reverse the popular will of the people of Lagos state in the presidential and parliamentary elections.”
Lagos – the huge southern commercial hub, former capital and Africa’s most populous city -- was a narrow but crucial win for Buhari, a northern Muslim. The opposition candidate took 792,460 votes in the key swing state while Jonathan, a southern Christian, won 632,327, according to the Vanguard newspaper.