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Nigerians 'Trek' to Celebrate Historic Election

FILE - A woman walks across a river bed in Jalingo, Nigeria. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

FILE - A woman walks across a river bed in Jalingo, Nigeria. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Nigerians elected former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari as their president last month. The elections are considered historic. It was the first time a Nigerian president has failed to win re-election since the country returned to democratic rule in 1999.

Mr. Buhari defeated current president Goodluck Jonathan. The president-elect will take office later this month.

Some Nigerians are celebrating the election results in an unusual way: they have been going for very long walks.

The long walks are known as trekking. Nigerians from all across the country are trekking, and for all kinds of reasons. One man announced plans to walk from the central Nigerian state of Taraba to Bayelsa, the home state of President Jonathan. The trekker planned to give Mr. Jonathan an award for leaving office peacefully.

Another man is walking 800 kilometers from the northeastern city of Maidguri to the capital, Abuja, to congratulate Mr. Buhari. There also is a woman walking from the southeastern city of Enugu to Abuja as a show of national unity. Her trek will cover a distance of about 440 kilometers.

Sulaiman Hashimu walked 750 kilometers from Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city, to Abuja. He says his decision to make the trip resulted from a debate among friends about who loved Mr. Buhari more.

“So when we (were) arguing over election and love of Buhari, this one would say, ‘I love Buhari more than you,’ I will say, ‘I love Buhari more than you.’

He says that argument led the friends to make promises. Some offered to sell their belongings and give the money to others. Another friend promised to loan his car for free.

Sulaiman Hashimu felt he had little to offer. So he promised to walk to Abuja if Mr. Buhari won. Two years later, he did, and met the president-elect when he arrived in the capital last month.

Few of the trekkers arrive without some present or gifts. Abubakar Dudu Wali walked about 750 kilometers from the northeastern city of Yola to Abuja. He says he became something of a messenger service for the people met along the road.

He says people gave him messages as he trekked from Yola State. He says he carried about 400 letters that people asked him to give to Mr. Buhari.

Mr. Dudu is now in Abuja, waiting to see the president-elect.

But why walk? Sani Ibrahim Maimasara has an answer. Reporter Chris Stein found him on the road from the northern city of Zaria to Gombe in Nigeria’s northeast. Mr. Mainmasara says he wants to congratulate the governor of Gombe. The governor was the only official loyal to Mr. Jonathan’s party to keep his job in northern Nigeria.

Mr. Maimasara says he knows the governor is a busy man. But he is sure the official will take time to meet a party supporter who walked more than 480 kilometers to see him.

When he spoke to the reporter, Mr. Maimasara was outside the city of Bauchi, 192 kilometers from his goal.

I’m Caty Weaver.

Chris Stein reported on this story from Lagos, Nigeria. George Grow adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in This Story:

historicadj. something famous or important

re-electionn. returned to office through a vote

trekv. to walk; n. a walk

congratulate – v. to praise a person or to express pleasure for success or good luck

promisen. a spoken or written agreement to do something; v. – to say one will do something