Nigeria’s opposition All Progressives Party (APC) declared victory Tuesday as Muhammadu Buhari is leading the polls while the counting continues.
APC spokesman's Lai Mohammed said: “This is the first time in Nigeria that a sitting government will be voted out of power using purely democratic means.”
Muhammadu Buhari is close to victory in Nigerian presidential elections in his fourth attempt as he leads sitting president Goodluck Jonathan by more than three million votes as counting continues in the most populous African country.
If Buhari manages to keep his lead and win the elections the head of state will change by democratic elections for the first time in Nigerian history.
Buhari, who lost presidential bids in previous three elections, was leading with 14.6 million votes against Jonathan’s 11.3 million according to a tally comprising 34 of Nigeria's 36 states by Reuters.
A former general, Buhari (72), ruled the country following a military between 1983 and 1985 to later be after a unseated by another coup. However, later he declared for himself a convert to democracy and participated in elections.
President Goodluck Jonathan’s popularity was hit by corruption scandals and Boko Haram attacks in northeast regions of the country which caused thousands of deaths over the years.
Buhari, as the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress, promised to defeat Boko Haram and that his military credentials seem to have convinced the voters, first results suggest.
However, getting most of the votes is not enough to win the presidency in Nigeria’s electoral system. Candidates have to win at least 25 percent of the votes in 24 of Nigeria’s 36 states, otherwise a runoff will ensue between top two candidates.
In Abuja, Buhari supporters were preparing for victory celebrations while the senior members of APC voiced a sense of responsibility for the transition period, where the power will be handed to Buhari from Jonathan.
Kwara state senator and senior APC official Bukola Sarki said: "We are on course to win. We need to first manage this period where - for the first time in Nigeria - we are going to see an incumbent government unseated in the polls.”
The elections were postponed six weeks because of security reasons but two days of voting in the oil rich African country went smooth except for technical glitches in some areas and the Boko Haram attacks in the northeast that killed 12 people.