Many Nigerians thought voters in Taraba state would make history by electing the nation's first female governor. But Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan, known as "Mama Taraba" by her supporters, lost to her main challenger, Darius Ishaku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Premium Times in Nigeria said Tuesday.
As the April 11 election neared, Al-Hassan of the All Progressives Congress (APC) emerged as a leading candidate in the race for the Taraba governorship, making it one of the most contested polls in Nigeria this year. Al-Hassan, an attorney, defected from the PDP and joined the opposition party after she was elected senator for the Taraba North constituency in 2011. She was the Taraba state attorney general and commissioner of justice as well as the chief registrar of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.
Al-Hassan, a Muslim, pooled a large number of votes from the Gasol local government area as vote counting entered its second day in Taraba, allowing her to surpass the PDP’s candidate, Nigerian newspaper Osun Defender reported. The lead triggered early celebrations nationwide by those who expected Al-Hassan to become the first female state executive. But as the final results from all 16 local government areas in the eastern state trickled in, Ishaku regained the lead by nearly 64,000 votes and hopes of making history sunk, the Premium Times said.
Nigeria’s election commission is still finalizing the collation of results in Taraba, but is expected to announce the PDP’s victory in the predominately Christian state. President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP, a southern Christian seeking re-election, also won the most votes in the eastern state against the APC’s candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, a northern Muslim. But Buhari defeated Jonathan nationally by a couple million votes, ending the PDP's 16-year rule.