US President Barack Obama praised Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday for conceding defeat in an election that he said showed “Nigeria’s commitment to democratic principles.” “President Jonathan has placed his country’s interests first by conceding the election and congratulating president-elect (Muhammadu) Buhari on his victory,” Obama said in a White House statement. Buhari won the election by 2.57 million votes official results showed Wednesday, defeating incumbent Jonathan in a close fought race.
“I look forward to working with President Jonathan throughout the remainder of his term, and I thank him for his many years of service and his statesmanlike conduct at this critical juncture,” Obama said. With dissatisfaction rife over insecurity and corruption and the economy faltering as oil revenues dive, voters turned out in force sensing an unprecedented opportunity for change in the weekend election.
“The last few days have shown the world the strength of Nigeria’s commitment to democratic principles,” Obama said. “By turning out in large numbers and sometimes waiting all day to cast their votes, Nigerians came together to decide the future of their country peacefully.” After an often bitter campaign that included highly charged rhetoric on both sides, Buhari said he planned to meet with Jonathan soon to plan the transition.
“I urge president-elect Buhari and President Jonathan to repeat their calls to their supporters to continue to respect the election outcomes, focus on unifying the country, and together lead Nigeria through a peaceful transition,” Obama said. Buhari, a 72-year-old former army general who led Nigeria as a military ruler in the 1980s, said the vote had proved the country’s “belief in democracy.
” Obama also praised Nigeria’s Independent National Election Commission (INEC) and its chairman, which he said “deserve special recognition for what independent international observers have deemed a largely peaceful and orderly vote.”