By Rafiu Ajakaye
Muhammadu Buhari, a 73-year-old former military ruler, had unsuccessfully contested three presidential elections since 2003.
But in the March 28 presidential vote, Buhari won 21 states while incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan won 15 states in addition to the federal capital Abuja, according to the Independent National Election Commission (INEC).
The INEC is yet to announce the total number of votes each of the two presidential contenders had gathered.
But according to a tally by the Anadolu Agency based on official figures, Buhari has accumulated nearly 15.4 million votes while Jonathan has won nearly 12.8 million.
So, what has changed for Buhari this time around?
Buhari won big in at least four of the country's six zones.
He won in all the big-sized northwest states such as Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Sokoto.
The 73-year-old Sunni Muslim won five out of the six northeastern states, with Taraba being the exception.
For the first time since first running in 2003, he made big gains in the north central states of Kogi, Kwara and Benue, which he had never won before.
Buhari added those three to Niger, also in the north central, which he had always won since 2003.
Then for the first time ever, he won all but one (Ekiti) of the southwestern states - therefore fulfilling the prophecy of "a handshake across the Niger" as expounded by the country's late thinker and politician Obafemi Awolowo.
Awolowo, former premier of the defunct Western Region of Nigeria in the first republic, had sought to strike a political alliance between the north and the southwest in his bid to gain federal powers.
According to him, no politician can survive an onslaught of the northwest and the southwest at the same time - a wise word that perhaps was lost on the defeated incumbent Jonathan.
In all his previous runs, Buhari had never won 25 percent of votes in any of the 17 southern states much less win majority votes there.
This time around, he won majority votes in Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Osun and Ondo.
These are all historic for the man.
But the key factor that decided this election was the southwest allying with the entire northwest to deliver bloc votes for Buhari.
The former military ruler struck a political alliance in 2013 with the southwest political leaders and some rebels from the ruling party to form a mega opposition alliance.
With this victory, that alliance has proven to be the most successful political cooperation in Nigeria's chequered history.
Then his historic incursion into the north central helped to give him a national spread.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.