Rioting broke out Monday after it became clear that Goodluck
Jonathan had won the presidency, underscoring a deep regional divide
between northern Muslim voters and southern Christians.
On Saturday, Nigeria accomplished something that even four years
ago seemed impossible: it held peaceful and legitimate elections.
Proving the skeptics and the fear-mongerers wrong, Nigerians
marched to the polls and waited for hours in the blazing sun and
stifling humidity to cast their ballots in the hotly contested
presidential vote. But subsequent violence cast a shadow over
Saturday's vote, which was widely praised as the fairest since the
country abandoned military rule since 1999.
The vote pitted incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, a southern Christian
from the oil-rich delta, against one-time military ruler and
northerner Muhammadu Buhari. Mr. Buhari, who has staked his
reputation on his sometimes brutal intolerance for corruption in a
country rife with it, was strongly favored in the north, but Mr.
Jonathan - who polled as high as 99.8 perfect in his home state of
Bayelsa - took the victory.
The results of the vote indicate a deepening divide between the
north and the south - one that President Jonathan, who rose to power
when his predecessor died in office, may find difficult to bridge.
"All the northern states don't like Jonathan, that is the message
clearly out," says Halima Ben Umar, a women's rights activist in the
northern city of Kano who like many other northerners was dismayed
when it became apparent Sunday night that Jonathan would win.
Violence breaks out
On Sunday, as results from each of Nigeria's 36 states were read
on live national television, tension began to build among
northerners whose rallying cry during the campaign was "Only
By mid-morning on Monday, young men had taken to the streets in
several northern cities, armed with wooden planks and lighter fuel,
apparently motivated to protest the results. The mobs quickly turned
violent and began burning wood and tires to create informal
checkpoints and later setting fire to homes of known supporters of
Jonathan and his ruling People's Democratic Party in the cities of
Kaduna and Kano.
The death tolls from the riots that followed are not yet clear,
though a doctor at Murtalla Muhammed hospital in Kano told the
Monitor that he had seen "about 10 people" dead in the emergency
ward on Monday afternoon. …