Nigeria’s President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, has dedicated his victory to Nigerians, saying they are the ultimate victors.
In a televised speech Wednesday, after the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Attahiru Jega, officially declared him the winner of Saturday’s presidential election, Mr. Buhari said “In a more profound way, it is you, Nigerians that have won. The people have shown their love for our nation and their belief in democracy”.
The President-elect said Nigerians have made history, and that it was the resolve of Nigerians that made the change they were yearning for possible.
“The good people of Nigeria, answered the call of history. When the account of this fine moment is written, it will be said that it was the people themselves who led this nation to democracy”, he said.
“You stood in line patiently for hours in the sun, rain and then in the dark to cast your ballots. Even when the vote was extended to Sunday in some places, you still performed your civic duty. You did so peacefully. You voted with your heart. Your vote affirms that you believe Nigeria’s future can be better than what it is today.
“You voted for change and now change has come”, he said.
The former head of state also confirmed that he received a call from President Goodluck Jonathan “at exactly 5:15pm” conceding defeat and congratulating him for his victory.
“For this I want all Nigerians to join me in congratulating and appreciating Mr President for his statesmanship”, he said.
He also said Mr. Jonathan engaged in a spirited campaign and was a worthy opponent.
“I extend my hand of fellowship to him. I look forward to meeting him soon as we plan the transition from one administration to another. He will receive nothing but understanding, cooperation and respect from me and my team”, Mr. Buhari said
The president-elect also thanked Nigerians for their unwavering faith in him, even as he said the country has now joined the ranks of those nations that have used the ballot box to peacefully change an incumbent president in a free and fair election.
“To me this is indeed historic”, he said.
Mr. Buhari reiterated his earlier call to all his supporters to remain peaceful as they go about their celebrations and not engage in any altercation with those who never wanted a change.
“Most people will welcome the result because it is the one they voted for. Others will naturally be disappointed. I ask that we all be circumspect, respectful and peaceful in these times”, he said.
He said the electioneering was a hard-fought contest, adding emotions are presently high.
“We must not allow them to get the better of us. This is not the time for confrontation. This is a moment that we must begin to heal the wounds and work toward a better future.
“We do this first by extending a hand of friendship and conciliation across the political divide. We hope and pray our friends in other parties reciprocate”, he said.
Mr. Buhari said he will address the nation after receiving his certificate of return from INEC.