Why change in Nigeria matters to the world: Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State

Nigeria’s new President Muhammadu Buhari rides in a motorcade while inspecting the guard of honor before his inauguration at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria on May 29, 2015. Afolabi Sotunde—Reuters

This week, something unprecedented is happening in Africa’s most populous country, where groundbreaking political change is underway. Nigeria’s incumbent president will step down and a new president from another political party, Muhammadu Buhari, will be sworn in.

The March election that brought Mr. Buhari to office was a political triumph for Nigeria and a positive step for the future of democracy in sub-Saharan Africa. Few expected that the election would be peaceful or credible, but the Nigerian people demanded nothing less.

As one of us witnessed first-hand while serving on a National Democratic Institute election observer delegation, people across Nigeria waited in lines that stretched for hours simply to have their voices heard through the ballot box. Thousands were willing to risk the threat of election violence to volunteer as citizen observers, and the outcome was seen as legitimate thanks in large measure to the work of the Independent National Electoral Commission, which oversaw the rapid release of election results.

Read more: Madeleine Albright: Why Change in Nigeria Matters to the World

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