Nigeria's Buhari vows to bring change, defeat Boko Haram
He also struck a reconciliatory note with his political rivals

Nigeria's President-elect Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday reiterated his commitment to fighting the Boko Haram insurgency and corruption, promising Nigerians that he would restore the rule of law and democracy.

"Today, history has been made and change has finally come," Buhari said in a televised acceptance speech in capital Abuja.

"Your votes have changed our national destiny for the good of all Nigerians," he added, addressing himself to Nigerian voters.

"Democracy and the rule of law will be reestablished in the land," said Buhari.

Early Wednesday, Nigeria's Independent National Election Commission (INEC) officially declared Buhari – the candidate of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) – the winner of Saturday's presidential poll.

He won 15,424,921 votes out of a total of 28,587,564 valid ballots cast, according to INEC, while incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan – his main electoral rival – won 12,853,162.

Buhari won 21 states, while Jonathan clinched 15 states, along with capital Abuja.

"I shall work for those who voted for me, as well as those who voted against me – and even for those who did not vote at all," the president-elect vowed.

"There shall be no bias against or favoritism for any Nigerian based on ethnicity, religion, region, gender or social status," he asserted.

Buhari voiced his regret that several people had been killed or injured in nationwide victory celebrations.

"It is with a very heavy heart that I report many deaths and injuries amidst the jubilations yesterday," he said.

"We send our sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives," he added.

"I appeal to all our supporters to celebrate this victory with prayers and reflection instead of wild jubilation," said Buhari.

-Fighting Boko Haram-

President-elect Buhari also struck a reconciliatory note with his political rivals.

"Despite the rancor of the elections, I extend a hand of friendship and conciliation to President Jonathan and his team," he said. "I hereby wish to state that I harbor no ill will against anyone."

Buhari said that, although some may not agree on the best way to govern the nation, Jonathan "has nothing to fear from me."

He gave special thanks to U.S. President Obama for the latter's "timely intervention and support for peaceful and credible elections in Nigeria."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other American officials visited Nigeria during the election campaigns and met the two frontrunners to seek their commitment to fair and peaceful polls.

Buhari, in his acceptance speech, also vowed to battle the Boko Haram militant group and government corruption.

"I assure you that Boko Haram will soon know the strength of our collective will and commitment to rid this nation of terror and bring back peace and normalcy to all the affected areas," he said.

"We shall spare no effort until we defeat terrorism," added the president-elect.

Known for his fierce criticism of the Boko Haram insurgency, Buhari was targeted in 2014 in what the militant group described as an assassination attempt.

Nigeria is fighting a six-year Boko Haram insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced over one million people from the country's northeast, where the militants have been the most ruthless.

The military recently announced that all territory earlier captured by the insurgents in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states had all since been "liberated" by the army.

Buhari also vowed that, under his administration, Nigeria would assist in the global fight against terrorism.

"I assure all foreign governments that Nigeria will become a more forceful and constructive player in the global fight against terrorism," he said.

Buhari also vowed to combat the "evil of corruption," which, he said, was "even worse than terrorism."

Buhari, a Hausa Fulani Sunni Muslim from the northwestern Katsina State, is admired by many Nigerians for his corruption-free track record.

Many Nigerians also respect his Spartan lifestyle and personal discipline as an elder statesman.

He is also admired for turning down the perks accorded to past rulers of Nigeria, reportedly asking the Finance Ministry to cut his monthly pay as a former military ruler.

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Last Modified: 2015-04-02 08:57:53
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