KANO, Nigeria — The most competitive presidential race ever in Africa’s largest democracy continued to play out late into Monday night, with the incumbent president facing a tough challenge as voting results poured in from distant states in this crowded and chaotic land.
President Goodluck Jonathan’s difficult night signaled, at the very least, his turbulent tenure in a country that is often seen as the continent’s bellwether. On Mr. Jonathan’s watch, Nigeria has been beset by a vicious Islamist insurgency, economic fortunes that plunged along with oil revenue, growing economic inequality and corruption scandals. As they went to the polls here on Saturday, voters expressed frustration over those and other issues, and that sentiment appeared to be largely in play Monday night.
With results in from just over half of Nigeria’s 36 states and the capital, the challenger, a retired general who once ruled Nigeria as a military dictator, led by about two million votes in official results. Late Monday, the electoral commission in the capital, Abuja, adjourned the counting, announcing that it would continue Tuesday morning.
But already Mr. Jonathan’s challenger, Muhammadu Buhari, had swept critical competitive states in the country’s southwest. A belated convert to democracy, Mr. Buhari was also piling up large vote totals, as expected, in his native north, crushing the incumbent here in Nigeria’s second-largest city.