Nigeria: local elections after disputed presidential election

Three weeks after the main opposition parties contest the presidential election, Nigerians are called to the polls on Saturday to elect their governors as well as representatives to local legislatures.

The presidential election was won by the candidate of the ruling party, Bola Tinubu, with his rivals denouncing him as a “manipulator”.

Africa’s most populous country is electing more than 900 state assembly representatives on Saturday as well as governors for 28 of the country’s 36 states. Due to electoral disputes, by-elections will be held in other states at different times.

Polling stations, which opened at 8:30 am (0730 GMT), are expected to close at 2:30 pm (1330 GMT), although delays are frequent.

Lagos, the country’s economic hub, will be the scene of one of the tightest elections for the governorship between ruling party (APC) candidate Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labor Party (LP) and main opposition candidate Olajide Adidiran. (PDP).

For the first time in two decades, the bubbling megacity of 20 million people may escape the influence of new president Bola Tinubu, who re-elected his historic “godfather” in favor of an opposition governor.

The current governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who is a candidate for re-election to a second term on Saturday, is often described in the local press as a “puppet” of Mr Tinubu.

– “fresh blood” –

Voters wait to cast their votes in the election of local governors and deputies to be held in Lagos, Nigeria March 18, 2023 (AFP – PIUS UTOMI EKPEI)

But Mr Tinubu’s dominance “could end on Saturday” as “Lagos prepares for a historic election”, underlined Yusuf Omotayo in an editorial in the political magazine The Republic.

Polling stations opened early Saturday morning in the affluent Ikoyi area of ​​Lagos.

“We hope this election will be one of the best,” Sukiman Abubakar, 52, who works in real estate, told AFP.

Security was tightened in popular areas on Saturday. An AFP reporter saw armored vehicles in the Iyana-Ipaja and Abulegba areas of Lagos state, which are likely to spark violence.

Voter Fausat Balogun, 46, went to the polling station at 06:00 (05:00 GMT). “We need fresh blood in Lagos. The old politicians have betrayed us,” he told AFP.

Other tight elections are to be held in the kingdoms of Rivers (South) and Kano (North). And Adamawa State may elect the first female governor.

A deciding factor will be turnout, as many voters may decide not to vote because of the disputed February presidential results.

Most of the states are currently governed by either the APC or the PDP, with only Anambra being controlled by another party, the AGPA.

Posters campaigning for local elections in Nigeria on March 7, 2023 in Lagos (AFP/Archives - PIUS UTOMI EKPEI)
Posters campaigning for local elections in Nigeria on March 7, 2023 in Lagos (AFP/Archives – PIUS UTOMI EKPEI)

During the 25 February presidential election, ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu received 8.8 million votes in the race to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, while Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition party (PDP) received 6.9 million and ) received 6.1 million votes. The Labor Party’s Peter Obi stunned the urban and connected youth candidate.

The voting was marked by serious technical failures and several delays in the electronic transmission of results, which provoked some voters to cry fraud.

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