Nigerian president-elect Muhammadu Buhari’s political party retained the Lagos state governorship, the country’s electoral commission said Sunday. Amid violence that marred weekend polling, Buhari’s All Progressives Congress consolidated the new president’s power by gaining control of the commercial capital, Reuters reported.
The results mean it will be the first time since the end of Nigerian military rule in 1999 the governor of the capital and the president are from the same party. However, election observers said Buhari’s party reached that milestone with low voter turnout, compared to last month’s presidential vote that saw President Goodluck Jonathan’s defeat.
Observers said turnout was low in the election of 29 governors and all state assemblies. Voter apathy and the fear of violence at polling stations, which was justified in some cases, kept many Nigerians at home, Reuters reported. At least 10 people were killed in election-related violence Friday and Saturday, including a politician from Jonathan's People's Democratic Party who was shot in his home, police said.
The weekend’s violence follows more than a dozen deaths during the presidential election, due to attacks by the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram. But one election monitor said the governorship election violence was worse. "I think it was worse than the presidential vote. ... We've had more reports of fights and skirmishes around polling areas," said Clement Nwankwo, executive director of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Center.
Protests, shoot-outs in several towns, attacks on electoral commission property and ballot box snatching delayed the start of voting on Friday, Reuters reported. The Independent National Electoral Commission canceled polling in Rivers state and redid ballot casting in some areas. INEC also reported 66 instances of violence at polling stations, with the highest number occurring in Rivers.
Retaining political control of Lagos is important for Buhari’s party, as the city of 21 million people generates up to a third of Nigeria's GPD, Reuters noted.