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Buhari party wins majority of Nigeria states in regional vote
April 14, 2015
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ABUJA: The party of Nigeria’s president-elect Muhammadu Buhari has won governorship elections in a majority of the country’s 36 states, building its strength nationwide after a historic presidential win, official results on Monday showed.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) held at least 21 governor’s seats following Saturday’s regional polls but could add to that tally with results from a handful of states still pending.

President Goodluck Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had controlled the federal and most state governments since the end of military rule in 1999 but has suffered sweeping losses in the ongoing election cycle.

Jonathan’s loss to Buhari in the presidential vote two weeks ago was the first ever democratic change of power at the federal level since Nigeria gained independence from Britain in 1960.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) described the regional vote as “relatively peaceful” while lamenting 66 separate incidents of violence surrounding the polls.

Governors are influential figures in Nigeria, with near-total control of their states and collective power at a national level to bolster or check the presidency.

The 72-year-old Buhari will be sworn in on May 29 and his administration will benefit from having a majority of loyalist governors, including in the economic capital Lagos, where the APC was re-elected after a tough PDP challenge.

The PDP on Monday conceded that it was “repositioning” itself to provide “a credible opposition” to the ascendant APC.

It urged supporters to “gear up for a rescue mission in the overall interests of the Nigerian people.”

The PDP was almost wiped out in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north, Buhari’s home region.

The governor of northeast Gombe state, Ibrahim Dankwambo, was the only PDP candidate elected in the region.

Jonathan, a southern Christian, faced pressure to stand aside before the presidential vote in favour of a PDP northern governor.

But he insisted on running again, a decision that experts believe fuelled the APC’s rise.

The PDP lost governorship elections in at least seven northern states it had previously controlled.

Jonathan’s party also suffered a string of losses in the religiously divided Middle Belt region, including in states such as conflict-scarred Plateau, where Jonathan had bested Buhari in the general election.

The APC victories at the weekend further highlighted widespread frustration with corruption and insecurity after 16 years of PDP-dominated rule.

The polls also underscored the stunning rise of the APC, which was founded just two years ago in a coalition that grouped Buhari’s northern base with opposition parties that had support in the south.

Taraba state has attracted attention because it could return a female governor for the first time in Nigeria’s history in the person of Aisha Jummai Al Hassan, but final results had not yet been declared.

So far, the only state the PDP wrested from APC control was the southern, oil-producing hub of Rivers, where tensions have been high throughout the election season.

Outgoing Rivers governor Rotimi Amaechi was elected on the PDP ticket in 2011 but defected to the APC in 2013.

The move in a state, which borders Jonathan’s home of Bayelsa proved costly.

Jonathan won the presidential vote in Rivers with more than 95 percent support, while Amaechi’s hand-picked successor for the governor’s office, Dakuku Peterside, was trounced by the PDP’s Nyesom Wike, who won with 87 per cent support.

There were widespread claims from the APC of PDP irregularities in voting in Rivers at the presidential election, leading to demonstrations and calls for a re-run.

INEC said the state saw the worst unrest during the regional polls, with 16 separate incidents of violence recorded.

The state’s information commissioner Ibim Semenitari said of the gubernatorial result: “What happened on Saturday was a rape of democracy. There was no election in Rivers.

“The PDP in connivance with INEC (the electoral commission) and the security agencies merely wrote figures which they have churned out to the public,” she told AFP.

She added: “We are going to challenge the results.”

Local PDP spokesman Emmanuel Okha, however, said: “The people have spoken. We urge the APC to accept the results in good faith.”

Agence France-Presse




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