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Nigeria: the ruling party consolidates its hegemony by winning local elections

Nigeria: the ruling party consolidates its hegemony by winning local elections
A voter casts his ballot at a polling station during local elections, in Lagos, on March 18, 2023.   -  
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Nigeria's ruling party emerged victorious in two of the country's three states that were electing their governors on Saturday, in polls marred by violence and accusations of electoral fraud.

These elections are traditionally hotly contested in a country where governors have extensive powers, and despite the deployment of large security forces, several people were shot dead, according to local media, and an official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) was abducted.

The polls were held on Saturday in the central state of Kogi, the southern state of Bayelsa, and the southeastern state of Imo.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu's party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), came out well ahead in Imo State, where incumbent governor Hope Uzodinma was re-elected for a second term with 540,308 votes against 71,503 for his opponent, according to official tallies.

The APC also retained Kogi State, where Ahmed Usman Ododo won with over 446,000 votes. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) came second with 259,000 votes.

However, in Bayelsa State, outgoing governor Douye Diri, a member of the opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP), retained his post with 175,196 votes against 110,108 for the APC candidate, according to the results announced on Monday.

In all, the APC governs 20 of the country's 36 states, against 13 for the PDP. The governors of the last three states come from three other parties.

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), which observed the elections, said that turnout had been low at several polling stations, with Nigerians deterred from traveling "for fear of violence".

Nigerian media and poll-watching groups reported several fatal shootings, one of which was attributed to soldiers allegedly trying to stop a man escaping with a ballot box in Anyigba, Kogi state.

The army and police did not respond to AFP's requests on this subject.

The CDD also denounced vote-buying in exchange for rice.

The work of the electoral commission was being closely monitored, following criticism of Bola Ahmed Tinubu's presidential victory earlier this year with 37% of the vote, in one of the closest contests in the country's modern history.

The opposition had complained of delays in putting the results online and technical problems which, it claimed, offered opportunities for electoral fraud.

The electoral commission assured that it had done "everything possible to guarantee" "free, fair and credible" elections.

Inec announced on Saturday that one of its employees kidnapped the previous day in Bayelsa state, had been released.

According to Inec, a boat carrying election documents capsized, affecting more than 5,000 voters in the state.

Nigeria has a long history of electoral violence since the end of military rule in 1999, and election results are often contested in court.

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