Nigerians return to the polls to elect the country’s influential state governors

Archive image of elections in Nigeria – Europa Press/Contacto/Marvellous Durowaiye

The Nigerian population goes to the polls again this Saturday to elect the 28 of the 36 state governors of the country, less than a month after the chaotic presidential elections, in an election where the opposition seeks to consolidate the good result obtained in February and the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) seeks to give a blow on the table after the weakness exhibited in the previous elections, both knowing the extraordinary importance of local control of the Nigerian states.

The key to this Saturday’s electoral battle is in Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial center and traditional fiefdom of the ruling party and the country’s current president-elect, Bola Tinubu, who now faces an unprecedented threat represented by the emerging Labor Party of Peter Obi — third most voted candidate in the presidential election and winner of the elections in the state — and his candidate for state governor, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour.

The second most voted party in February, the Peoples Democratic Party, also threatens Tinubu’s dominance in Lagos through its choice for gubernatorial candidate, Azeez ‘Jandor’ Olajide Adediran.

Both are aiming to defeat the current governor of the state and Tinubu’s choice, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who is seeking a second term amid much more difficult prospects than four years ago, when the CTP was the undisputed political force in the country. Now, analysts consulted by the Nigerian daily ‘Premium Times’ anticipate a tough battle not only in Lagos, but also in the states of Oyo, Kano, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Bauchi, Delta and Rivers.

THE IMPORTANCE OF GOVERNORS Nigerian governors enjoy extraordinary power in the country. They are responsible for local politics through a network of connections with tribal notables and religious communities and their dominance extends across territories as large as some African nations.

Nigerian governors, remind Radio France Internationale (RFI) experts, also play a key role in political nominations, both locally and nationally; their support is even essential to become a traditional leader or president of Nigeria.

It should be recalled that during the presidential elections, Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was betrayed by five governors of his party, who were responsible for the candidate’s electoral failure in their respective states.

Barring any setbacks or judicial pronouncements, the winners of today’s gubernatorial elections will assume office on May 29.