UPDATE 1-Nigeria’s Buhari closes in on historic election victory

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By Ed Cropley and Tim Cocks

ABUJA – Nigerian opposition contender Muhammadu Buhari, an ex-general who first won power three decades ago in a military coup, closed in on a historic election on Tuesday, maintaining a hefty lead in the count in Africa’s most populous nation.

According to a Reuters tally collated 33 of Nigeria’s 36 states, the 72-year-old Buhari had more than 14 million votes, testament to the faith Nigerians have put in him as a born-again democrat intent on cleaning up Nigeria’s corrupt politics.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”10″]

Buhari’s compared to 11 million for President Goodluck Jonathan, whose five years at the helm of the richest country in Africa have been plagued by corruption scandals and an insurgency by Islamist Boko Haram militants.

One of Jonathan’s big support bases in the oil-producing is yet to report but the gap is so large that most analysts said it was impossible to see the of the ruling People’s (PDP) closing it.

Bar some technical glitches and the killing of more than a dozen by Boko Haram insurgents in the northeast, the election has been the smoothest since the end of military rule in 1999 – a factor that appears to have played in the outcome.

“There are probably lots of reasons why the PDP might have lost, but I think the key one is that the elections just haven’t been rigged,” said Antony Goldman, a business consultant with high-level contacts in Nigeria.
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“If you leave it to the Nigerian people they will be ready to make big decisions and to make Nigeria look something more like a conventional democracy.”

(Additional reporting by Julia Payne, Estelle Shirbon and Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Angus MacSwan)(Reuters)