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Nigerians urged to unite following Buhari's win

10 April 2015

PA

The scene of a car bomb explosion, at the central market, in Maiduguri, Nigeria, on Tuesday. Dozens of people are feared dead.

The scene of a car bomb explosion, at the central market, in Maiduguri, Nigeria, on Tuesday. Dozens of people are feared dead.

BOTH candidates in the recent presidential election in Nigeria have been praised for ensuring a peaceful transition of power.

The winner of the poll, the former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari, became the first ever opposition candidate to win a presidential election in Nigeria last week, beating the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan, by more than 2.5 million votes.

Besides pledging to "spare no effort" to defeat the Islamist terrorists Boko Haram, who have been waging an insurgency in north-eastern Nigeria for several years, he also hailed his defeated opponent in a TV speech after the result was announced on Wednesday last week.

"I extend a hand of friendship and conciliation to President Jonathan and his team," he said. "I have no ill will against anyone. He has nothing to fear from me. He is a great Nigerian, and still our President."

Mr Buhari is a Muslim from the north of Nigeria, who, while he was a general, seized power in a coup in 1983. He has vowed to stamp out corruption after his victory in last week's election.

The British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, said that it was vital that both President Jonathan and Mr Buhari ensured a peaceful handover. The President called for calm. "Nobody's ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian," he said, and, in an unprecedented gesture, phoned Mr Buhari personally to concede the election.

Bishops across Nigeria urged the nation over Easter to unite after the election. The Nigerian newspaper the Daily Trust reported that the RC Bishop of Kafanchan, the Rt Revd Joseph Bagobiri, used his Easter sermon in Kaduna, a city that has experienced repeated interreligious conflict, to call on both sides to work together.

"Now is the time for healing rather than brooding over the negative things that transpired during the election campaigns," Bishop Bagobiri said. "The challenge before us is how to handle them responsibly in a way that they do not explode and consume our nation."

The Anglican Bishop of Awka, Dr Alexander Ibezim, also used his Easter message to pray for unity in Nigeria, the Daily Independent newspaper said. "We should pray for peace, love, and unity of the country, and in all we do we emulate Jesus Christ," he said.

The Daily Post newspaper quoted a senior Pentecostal leader, Bishop Francis Wale Oke, who assured Mr Buhari that Christians were not against his leadership or government.

"We have been praying for him, and we will continue to pray for him that God should uphold and give him wisdom on how to govern this nation," he said.

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