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
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.