President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated the President-elect of The Gambia, Mr Adama Barrow, on his victory in the country’s December 1 presidential election.
The Nigerian President also salutes the spirit of statesmanship displayed by the outgoing President of The Gambia, Alhaji Yahya Jammeh, by conceding defeat, noting that such uncommon gesture is crucial in calming fears of unrest in the West African nation.
While expressing delight at the gallantry shown by President Jammeh, President Buhari enjoined President-elect Barrow to be magnanimous in victory.
The Nigerian leader also commended Gambians for peacefully exercising their democratic right to freely choose their leader and called on all stakeholders to maintain the peace.
President Buhari said that he was looking forward to a smooth transition of power and working with the incoming President of The Gambia to deepen existing cordial relations between both countries.
Gambian leader, Yahyah Jammeh, has lost a bid for another term to Adama Barrow who was declared winner of the Presidential election.
Mr Jammeh, who has been ruling the nation for 22 years, had vowed to remain in the helm of affairs for “a billion years”.
The electoral commission head declared Mr Barrow president-elect on state television, with 45.5 per cent of the vote against Jammeh’s 36.7 per cent.
“Having received 263, 515 votes out of the total votes cast in the election, I hereby declare Adama Barrow newly elected to serve as president of the republic of the Gambia,” Alieu Momarr Njai said.
He earlier told reporters in Banjul that Jammeh would concede, although he has yet to make a public statement.
Barrow also told Reuters by telephone on Friday he was expecting a phone call from Jammeh conceding the election.
Defeat and a concession from Jammeh would be momentous.
Earlier this week he said that his “presidency and power are in the hands of Allah and only Allah can take it from me”, and on one occasion even said he would remain in office for “a billion years”.
Voting against Jammeh was a rare show of defiance against a leader human rights groups say routinely crushes dissent by imprisoning and torturing opponents.
Gambians voted on Thursday amid a total blackout of the internet and all international calls, and with land borders sealed, in a poll posing the first serious challenge to Jammeh since he seized power in a coup in 1994.
He previously said he had invented a herbal cure for AIDS that only works on a Thursdays.
He has also arrested hundreds of people on suspicion of being witches or wizards and threatened to slit the throats of and decapitate homosexuals.
Jammeh’s supporters deny abuses and he has often criticized Western powers for meddling in African affairs.
Barrow, who has for the first time united and galvanized Gambia’s opposition, has promised to revive the economy, whose sluggishness pushes thousands of Gambians to flee to Europe in search of a better life.
He has also promised to end human rights abuses and to step down after three years as a boost to democracy.