Nigerians waited anxiously Sunday as the results of a bitterly contested presidential election were tabulated, a pivotal moment for Africa’s largest democracy and the region as a whole.
While many voters here celebrated the conclusion of a peaceful election day, others expressed concerns that the announcement of the country’s next leader could be met with violence. That’s what happened after the last election in 2011, when hundreds were killed in Kaduna, a northern state where voters are split between the two parties.
Yohanna Buru began the day leading services at Christ Evangelical Church, and the election was woven throughout his Palm Sunday sermon. He knew that, in Kaduna, violence could emerge along a religious fault line, just as in 2011, when mosques and churches were attacked.
“As they conclude the election, we pray for peace,” he told his congregation, which sat under a large white tent.
The results of Saturday’s poll are expected Monday, but glitches in the country’s electoral process could delay the announcement.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said voting had been “largely peaceful and orderly.”
On Sunday, supporters of opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator, staged a protest in southern Rivers state, alleging that election officials there had colluded with the ruling party to rig the election. The head of the country’s election commission, Attahiru Jega, said he was “concerned” about the allegations.