Buhari: Nigeria embraces democracy, 1-party state behind us

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Nigeria Poll Makes History


ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) - Former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari said Wednesday it was time "to heal wounds," a day after Nigeria's president conceded defeat in a bitterly fought election.

Calling for conciliation across the political divide, Buhari said Nigerians have put a one-party state behind them and embraced democracy.

Buhari, 72, said his victory is a victory for Nigerians who showed they can bring about peaceful change through the ballot box. It is the first time in Nigeria's history that a sitting president has been defeated at the polls.

Buhari was the sole candidate of a coalition of the major political parties that formed two years ago and transformed Nigeria's political landscape by offering the first real challenge to the governing party that has been in power since 1999.

Results from Saturday's election show Buhari winning votes across religious, tribal lines and geopolitical lines.

Because of decades of military rule - Buhari himself ousted a democratically elected government in the 1980s - this is only the eighth election in Nigeria's history and the fifth since democracy was restored in 1999.

"You voted for change and now change has come," said Buhari, who describes himself as a convert to democracy. "Your vote affirms that you believe Nigeria's future can be better than what it is today." He was addressing supporters at his party secretariat in Abuja, the capital, around 6 a.m.

President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat in a televised address to the nation late Tuesday, opening the way for a peaceful and unprecedented transition of power in Africa's richest and most populous state.

His concession has defused tensions and fears of post-election violence. Some 1,000 people died and 65,000 were made homeless in riots in the Muslim north after Buhari lost to Jonathan in 2011.

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Buhari: Nigeria embraces democracy, 1-party state behind us
MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA FEBRUARY 16: Nigerian opposition presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari (L) waves to his supporters as he arrives for an election campaign rally in Maiduguri, Nigeria on February 16, 2015. (Photo by Pool/APC Presidential Campaign Office/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Suppoters celebrate victory of main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Mohammadu Buhari at Obalende district in Lagos, on March 31, 2015. Thousands of people spilled onto the streets of Nigeria in celebration on Tuesday after opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari claimed victory in the presidential election. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
LAGOS, NIGERIA - JANUARY 25: Nigerians gather to support presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the Nigerian presidential elections which will be February 14, in Lagos, Nigeria, on January 25, 2015. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
TUESDAY, MARCH 31-Kaduna, Nigeria- Children dance on the streets of Tundu Wada to celebrate the win of presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress Party in Kaduna, Nigeria on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (Jane Hahn for the Washington Post)
TUESDAY, MARCH 31-Kaduna, Nigeria- Nigerians watch drag racing on the streets of Tundu Wada to celebrate the win of presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress Party in Kaduna, Nigeria on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (Jane Hahn for the Washington Post)
Nigerian president-elect Muhammadu Buhari (R) reads his acceptance speech in Abuja on April 1, 2015. Nigeria's president-elect Muhammadu Buhari praised the 'statesmanship' of the country's outgoing leader Goodluck Jonathan for conceding defeat in a vote that saw an incumbent lose for the first time in the nation's history. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
TUESDAY, MARCH 31-Kaduna, Nigeria- Nigerians hold signs in celebration as they watch people drag race on the streets of Tundu Wada to celebrate the win of presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress Party in Kaduna, Nigeria on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (Jane Hahn for the Washington Post)
TUESDAY, MARCH 31-Kaduna, Nigeria- A tuk tuk races down the streets of Tundu Wada while waving the flag of the All Progressives Congress Party to celebrate the win of presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari in Kaduna, Nigeria on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (Jane Hahn for the Washington Post)
TUESDAY, MARCH 31-Kaduna, Nigeria- A man tears up a poster promoting the the campaign of Goodluck Jonathan as people drag race in celebration on the streets of Tundu Wada after the win of presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari in Kaduna, Nigeria on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (Jane Hahn for the Washington Post)
TUESDAY, MARCH 31-Kaduna, Nigeria- A man holds a sign reading 'A new world Nigeria no more B/H' (Boko Haram) as people drag race on the streets of Tundu Wada to celebrate the win of presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress Party in Kaduna, Nigeria on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (Jane Hahn for the Washington Post)
Suppoters celebrate with poster of main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Mohammadu Buhari at Obalende district in Lagos, on March 31, 2015. Thousands of people spilled onto the streets of Nigeria in celebration on Tuesday after opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari claimed victory in the presidential election. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
TUESDAY, MARCH 31-Kaduna, Nigeria- A man wearing a headscarf drag races on the streets of Tundu Wada to celebrate the projected win of presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress Party in Kaduna, Nigeria on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (Jane Hahn for the Washington Post)
All Progressives Congress (APC) supporters celebrate outside the party secretariat in Abuja on March 31, 2015. Thousands of people spilled into the streets in northern Nigeria in celebration on Tuesday after opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari claimed victory in the presidential election. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of APC surround a jester dressed as Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan as they celebrate the election victory of APC Presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari on the streets of northern Nigeria's city of Kano on Tuesday, March 31, 2015.Thousands of people spilled onto the streets of Nigeria in celebration on Tuesday after opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari claimed victory in the presidential election. AFP PHOTO AMINOU ABUBAKAR (Photo credit should read AMINU ABUBAKAR/AFP/Getty Images)
LAGOS, NIGERIA - JANUARY 25: Nigerians gather to support presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the Nigerian presidential elections which will be February 14, in Lagos, Nigeria, on January 25, 2015. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LAGOS, NIGERIA - JANUARY 25: Nigerians gather to support presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the Nigerian presidential elections which will be February 14, in Lagos, Nigeria, on January 25, 2015. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LAGOS, NIGERIA - JANUARY 25: Nigerians gather to support presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the Nigerian presidential elections which will be February 14, in Lagos, Nigeria, on January 25, 2015. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LAGOS, NIGERIA - JANUARY 25: Nigerians gather to support presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the Nigerian presidential elections which will be February 14, in Lagos, Nigeria, on January 25, 2015. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LAGOS, NIGERIA - JANUARY 25: Nigerians gather to support presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the Nigerian presidential elections which will be February 14, in Lagos, Nigeria, on January 25, 2015. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA FEBRUARY 16: Nigerian opposition presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari (L) waves to his supporters as he arrives for an election campaign rally in Maiduguri, Nigeria on February 16, 2015. (Photo by Pool/APC Presidential Campaign Office/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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