Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham writes for US News and World Report on why the entire continent of Africa is the real winner of Nigeria’s presidential election:
Undeterred by either scorching heat or pouring rain, depending on which part of the country they were queuing up in, and, perhaps even more remarkably, unafraid of the still-lingering threat posed by the brutal Islamist militants of Boko Haram, who, although beaten back in recent weeks by the Nigerian armed forces and their regional allies, still sallied forth on election day to launch attacks in several northern states, Nigerians came out in the millions to cast ballots this past weekend in the African continent’s biggest electoral exercise. Retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari has claimed victoryin light of a strong lead over incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.
All of this underscores why this past weekend’s Nigerian presidential and parliamentary elections – for all the effort that went into them and all the delays, inefficiencies, and tensions that were endured – were nonetheless an important milestone, not just for the West African country, but for the African continent. Nigeria voted and, because the judgment of its citizens as expressed at the ballot box literally counted, Africa as a whole won.