Nigerians to vote in governorship polls as ruling party scrambles to regain lost ground in key states | CNN

Lagos, Nigeria

Nigerians will vote in a delayed governorship election on Saturday, weeks after a controversial and contested presidential election.

Governorship races will be decided in 28 of Nigeria’s 36 states as the ruling party struggles to regain lost ground in key states.

But all eyes will be on the fierce contest for control of the country’s rich Lagos state, which analysts say will be the “most competitive” in the state’s history.

“This could be the most competitive governorship election in Lagos State,” political analyst Sam Amadi told CNN.

“Many have tried to flip Lagos in the past and failed because of Bola Tinubu’s entrenched power. As president-elect, his influence in Lagos may increase but the Obedients are strong,” Labour. Amadi says about the supporters of the party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi.

Obi caused shockwaves when it emerged that he defeated President-elect Bola Tinubu on his home turf in Lagos but finished third in the presidential polls.

Obi has. Denied Tinubu’s win And is contesting the results in the courts.

The February 25 presidential election was widely criticized for delays, outbreaks of violence and efforts to suppress voters.

Many observers, including the European Union, also said the election went against expectations and “lacked transparency”.

The battle for Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub and one of Africa’s largest cities, has typically been a two-sided race never won by the opposition.

This is partly credited to political godfather and kingmaker Bola Tinubu, who is said to have handpicked every Lagos governor since he left office in 2007.

Tinubu’s firm grip on Lagos politics now faces an unprecedented threat after Obi’s loss on home turf to the third force Labor Party.

Obi is the first presidential candidate from the opposition to win in Lagos.

Amadi says his popularity among the youth could be a game changer in the Lagos gubernatorial poll.

“They (obedients) won Lagos in the last (presidential) poll but feel cheated and suppressed. So we may see another fierce fight. It depends on how motivated and saddened the obedients are now. feel,” he said.

Fifteen candidates The ruling All Progressives Congress Party is seeking to oust incumbent governor Babajide Sanwo Olu, who is seeking a second term. But only two are seen as real threats to his re-election.

Considered a long shot only a few weeks ago, Labor Party’s Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour is now riding Obi’s wave and gaining momentum after his party’s surprise victory in Tinubu’s stronghold.

Aziz Olajide Adediran of the Peoples Democratic Party, also known as Jandore, is another strong contender who wants to win the Lagos seat for his party for the first time.

Edediran’s party has come second in every governorship vote in Lagos since the return of civilian rule in 1999.

Both men told CNN they were confident of victory. “For the first time, the PDP is going to take over Lagos, and I am going to be the governor,” says Idediran. “People are really tired … the streets of Lagos are yearning for a breath of fresh air and that is what we represent,” he adds.

A wall is decorated with campaign posters of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Lagos governorship candidate Abdulaziz Olajide Adediran (Jindur) and running mate Funke Akindele in Lagos on March 7, 2023.

Rhodes-Weaver told CNN that the time had come to liberate Lagos from the “grip of the state”, and that he was next in line to rule the state.

“I am the next governor of Lagos State,” he announced. “You cannot stop an idea whose time has come. The idea of ​​a new Lagos … that is people-powered and works for the people as opposed to state capture. This idea, its time has come and whether No matter what they do, they can’t stop it. That’s where the confidence comes from.”

Governor Sanwo-Olu has asked voters to re-elect him because of the achievements he has brought. “Significant Progress” Lagos, including its commendable handling of the COVID pandemic.

The governorship candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Babajide Sanwo-Olu is seen in Lagos on January 24, 2023.

But the governor has failed to pacify the angry youth. Blaming him For his role in the 2020 shooting of peaceful protesters railing against police brutality by Nigerian soldiers.

Sanwo-Olu Enter CNN At the time, the footage showed uniformed soldiers firing on peaceful protesters, but recently refused to give the order to fire.

Analyst Emadi told CNN that the gubernatorial poll in Lagos will be a contest between retaining or expelling the old guard.

“Lagos is a battle between status quo and change,” Amadi said.

“Incumbent Sanwo-Olu has a good chance of holding on to his job. But he faces a serious challenge from Gbadebo (Rhodes-Vivour) who has the momentum (of the Obi-Wave). Jandore (Adidiran) remains behind. Gone is because the PDP was dismantled in Southern Nigeria and it has no enthusiasm in Lagos,” Amadi said.

“Sanwo-Olu has not been brilliant but he is believed to have done well in some aspects of keeping Lagos going. He may avoid the public uprising on Saturday… but if the APC fears If the lack of confidence in INEC’s integrity does not discourage young voters, watch out for the upset.

In addition to voter suppression efforts, widespread Loss of confidence The electoral institution’s ability to conduct credible elections has eroded voter confidence in the democratic process.

Only 26% of Nigeria’s more than 93 million registered voters voted in the last election. This was far less than the 2019 poll when one-third of registered voters ended up voting.

David Awodele of citizen group EiE Nigeria told CNN that the February 25 election “deepened the lack of trust between the (electoral) commission and the electorate.”

Ayodele urged the electoral body to “name and prosecute those INEC officials who were caught tampering with the electoral process” in the weekend poll.

Last month, Lagos police officials said she arrivedInvestigate an audio clip, In which two men were heard threatening residents of the local community to vote for the ruling APC candidates or face eviction from the area.

Polls are expected to open at 8:30 am local time (3:30 am ET) on Saturday and close at 2:30 pm (9:30 am ET).

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