Nigerians Vote For Powerful Governors In State Elections

Nigerians Vote For Powerful Governors In State Elections

By Alexis Akwagyiram and Tim Cocks | From Reuters

The final stage of Nigeria’s election began on Saturday with voting for powerful state governors, two weeks after a presidential poll saw an incumbent leader unseated at the ballot box for the first time.

The 36 governors are among the most influential politicians in Africa’s biggest oil producer and top economy, controlling budgets larger than those of small African nations and wielding influence that can decide who goes on presidential tickets.

Voting started in some states shortly after 8 a.m. (0700 GMT), although in many others it had yet to begin.

With so much at stake, candidates in past governorship elections have often played dirty, snatching ballot boxes, manipulating voter turn-out and engaging in thuggery and intimidation.

Police fired shots into the air to clear an angry mob of 2,000 people in the oil hub of Port Harcourt, in hotly contested Rivers state, after voting materials did not arrive on time, a Reuters witness said.

Muhammadu Buhari beat President Goodluck Jonathan last month with 15.4 million votes against 13.3 million, in a vote that was considered free and less violent than past polls.

Yet for many Nigerians, who their governor is matters more than who sits in the faraway capital Abuja.

“It will be slightly dirtier, a bit rougher in some places. Locals are more invested in the process around them. The federal government is like a no-man’s land,” said Folarin Gbadebo-Smith, head of Nigeria’s Centre for Public Policy Alternatives.

Read more at Reuters