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Nigeria’s local elections open in shadow of contested referendum

Millions of Nigerians are back to vote as Africa’s most populous country holds gubernatorial elections amid post-election tensions last month contested presidential vote.

New governors were elected in 28 of Nigeria’s 36 states on Saturday, as opposition parties continue to reject a victory for president-elect Boratinub from the West African country’s ruling party.

Africa’s most populous country elects hundreds of state legislators and governors in particularly competitive contests in Lagos, the country’s economic center.

Governors hold powerful positions in Nigeria and some state budgets are larger than those of several African countries.

The voting unit was supposed to open at 8:30 am (07:30 GMT) and close at 2:30 pm (13:30 GMT), but delays were frequent and it ended before closing time. voters in line should still be able to vote.

heavy security

On Friday, armed security forces were seen patrolling the streets of the state where elections are being held.

“Ahead of the election, the security situation across the country appeared tense, with reports of violence, kidnappings and assassinations in several states,” the Situation Room, a coalition of civil society groups, said in a statement. said.

Observers say the presidential vote was largely peaceful, but there are still fears of attacks in many parts of Nigeria, such as the northwest and southeast, where armed groups often carry out violent killings.

At a security conference in the Nigerian capital this week, Nigeria’s National Security Advisor Babagana Monguno said security forces were deployed in all hotspots of violence and that officials assumed a serious security threat. said no.

“We must allow everyone to exercise their basic rights as citizens of this country. Anyone wanting to undermine this process, please think again,” Mongno said. said.

Voters waiting to vote at polling stations for governor and House of Representatives candidates during local elections in Lagos [Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP]

voter indifference

Despite being one of Africa’s largest economies and oil producers, Nigeria’s development has been hampered by endemic and poor governance, often involving governors.

Nigeria’s constitution gives state governors enormous powers, but they are immune from any form of prosecution during their four-year terms limited to two terms.

Despite the governor’s powers, opinion polls show that many people in West African countries do not have a high level of interest in the governor’s election and performance.

Aisha Osori, director of the Open Society Foundation, said, “Even if the president is right, everyone else is against us: legislators, governors, structural constitutional issues.

When the election materials arrived in Ijayeh, Agbad district, about 50 voters were already lined up hours before the polls started.

One of them was Forsat Balogun, a 46-year-old trader who is keen to vote.

“I will be here from 6:00 am (05:00 GMT) to vote for the candidate of my choice. Lagos needs fresh blood. The old politicians have let us down. ‘ he said.

Three parties emerged as frontrunners for 18 gubernatorial candidates in 28 states. Despite his record 87.2 million registered voters, analysts repeat his low turnout in last month’s presidential vote, which marked his lowest turnout in Nigeria’s history at 26.7%. I’m afraid of

In the capital Abuja, Kate Imadu, 26, was one of many who waited day and night to vote in the presidential election but were unable to do so. That’s why she’s less interested in going to her own town in Cross River State to vote for her next governor, she said.

“If you couldn’t vote here during the presidential election, why would you need to travel?” Imadu asked, echoing many other frustrations.

Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission has pledged to address the following challenges posed by last month’s elections: Delayed uploading of polls and resultsOpposition parties argued that this caused voter disenfranchisement and manipulation of results.

Electoral Commission Chairman Mahmood Yakubu told officials in Abuja, “There is nothing else acceptable to Nigerians, so more is needed to overcome the challenges experienced in the last election.” We have to work harder,” he said.

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