March 31, 2015
Partial results from Nigeria’s election give ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari a substantial lead over the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan.
However, populous states such as Lagos and Rivers are yet to declare.
With just over half of Nigeria’s states declared, Gen Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) is ahead by some two million votes.
A victory for Gen Buhari would make President Jonathan the first incumbent in Nigeria to lose an election.
More results are due to be announced on Tuesday. Correspondents say it is likely the loser will allege foul play.
Nigeria’s election commission (Inec) suspended its declarations late on Monday night, after giving the results for 18 states and the capital Abuja.
President Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gained 6,488,210 votes and Gen Buhari’s APC party received 8,520,436 votes.
Several key states have yet to declare in the south, where Mr Jonathan, a southerner, enjoys strong support.
The candidate with the most votes will only avoid a run-off if they gain at least 25% of the votes in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states.
At the scene: Will Ross, BBC News, Abuja
In public the message from both sides is the same – we have won. But behind closed doors there are long faces in the PDP camp.
It looks like Muhammadu Buhari’s lead may well prove too wide to be bridged.
Unofficial results from most of the remaining states – published by national newspapers against electoral law – show that even if there are eyebrow-raising turnouts from Mr Jonathan’s strongholds in the Niger Delta, he is still in trouble.
But this is Nigeria and predictions are dangerous.
The biggest surprise would be if the result is not disputed by the losing side.
During the vote, the card readers experienced some technical glitches, but they could prove to be decisive in ensuring the numbers could not be cooked and the views of Nigerians could not be ignored.
International observers have broadly praised the conduct of the vote but there has been some concern over possible efforts to rig the outcome during the count.
The US and UK have expressed their concerns over possible “political interference” during the count.
A spokesman from Inec dismissed these fears, saying that “there is absolutely no basis” to talk of meddling.
Nigeria’s election process: Key facts
- Candidate with the most votes is declared the winner in the first round
- The winning candidate also needs at least 25% of the votes in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states
- Jonathan has passed this threshold in 16 states, Buhari in 14
- If there is no outright winner, the law says a run-off election must be held within seven days
- Victory in a run-off election is by simple majority
Earlier, police in the state used teargas against female opposition protesters who were attempting to lodge complaints with election officials.
Voting spilled into Sunday in some parts of Nigeria after problems were encountered with new electronic card readers, which were introduced to prevent fraud.
President Jonathan, whose PDP has dominated Nigerian politics since 1999, was among those whose registration to vote was delayed by the technology.
Election commission chief Attahiru Jega said only a fraction of the 150,000 card readers being used nationwide had failed.
Nigeria at a glance:
- Two main presidential candidates: Muhammadu Buhari, All Progressives Congress (APC), Muslim northerner, ex-military ruler, fourth presidential bid; and Goodluck Jonathan, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Christian southerner, the incumbent
- Years of military rule ended in 1999 and the PDP has been in power ever since
- Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and leading oil producer
- With a population of more than 170 million, it is also Africa’s most populous nation
Source: BBC News