Nigeria elects its own rulers, the powerful “godfathers” of a country in crisis


Outside a polling station in Lagos on March 18.  Nigerians will elect 28 of the country's 36 governors on Saturday.

They are the “godfathers” of the Nigerian federal system. Governors for 28 of the 36 states that make up Africa’s most populous country are due to be appointed on Saturday 18 March, after a ballot that promises to be tricky for a majority. First big challenge for Bola Tinubu, President-elect of Nigeria, victorious candidate in the Congress of Progressives (APC) and himself a former governor of Lagos.

On top of territories as vast and populous as some countries, these local barons have their hands on vast resources and have huge influence over appointments, both locally and nationally. exercise b “Care” At the heart of the Nigerian political machine, and prior to her victory in the presidential election, Bola Tinubu was the best known Spiritual father from the state.

Governor of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007, he worked for the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 and always chose his own successors. At least so far. Because it was Peter Obi, the famous Labor Party (LP) candidate, who came out on top in Lagos State during the presidential elections.

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Since then, attention has focused on Labor’s candidate for governor of this region, Gbadebo Rhodes Fivore – also known as GRV – a 40-year-old architect with a dynamic appearance who promises more transparency and investment in transport, health or education. Confronting the outgoing ruler, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, highlights his record and, of course, his closeness to traditional chiefs and the elected president.

A ‘completely redesigned’ electoral map

The stakes are high in a federal country of more than 20 million people that ranks among the top ten African economies in terms of GDP. The narrow crackdown raised tensions between the Yoruba – Bola Tinubu community – and the Igbo – Peter Obi ethnic group. On Tuesday, March 14, the campaign manager of the Liberal Party denounced the maneuvers “desperate politicians”. “The fact is that more Yorubas than Igbos voted for our candidate (…) because people want better governance and liberation of Lagos from the grip [de politiciens qui se comportent comme] organized crime syndicate We can read in the press release of the LP.

The opposition hopes in any way to confirm its results in the presidential elections in certain major areas during the polls on Saturday. Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), recorded a breakthrough in the northwest of the country (Kaduna, Katsina), which has so far been achieved in the Congress of Progressives. Elsewhere, Kano, the country’s second most populous state, could fall into the hands of Rabio Kwankwaso’s New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP), which won an overwhelming majority in this district during the presidential elections. It is not excluded that the federal capital, Abuja, will be rocky in the labor camp.

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The electoral map has been completely redrawn. The day after these hotly contested general elections (both presidential and legislative), notes Idyat Hassan, Director of the Center for Development and Democracy (CDD) in Abuja. Although the GPC retains a majority of seats in the Senate and the National Assembly, “There has never been such a diversity of political parties in Parliament,” She is excited. Many conservatives at the end of their mandate who sought to enter the Senate to end their careers there saw their project thwarted by the voters. Local policy is much more subtle than national policy. Citizens did not hesitate to express their anger at certain figures.” Adiyat Hassan notes.

logistical challenge

However, the opposition – which questions the results of the presidential election – deplores the shortcomings of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC). However, the latter has promised that the new electronic devices (BVAS) deployed in more than 176,000 polling stations will ensure the transparency of the vote. In the end, the facial and digital voter recognition process has had occasional setbacks. “By shutting down its dedicated website at the crucial moment and then delaying the publication of the results, the Independent National Electoral Commission has not respected its rules and is putting itself outside the law.” So says lawyer and activist Abdel Amin Mahmoud.

A woman votes for Governor of Lagos State on Saturday, March 18.

By way of justification, the federal government’s cybersecurity agency indicated on March 7 that it had done so “We blocked over 200 computer attacks on Election Day. The next day, those had grown exponentially to 1.2 million and we blocked them all.” But these shortcomings reinforced the suspicions of Nigerians, of whom 78% were not “do not trust” to INEC before the general election.

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Faced with logistical challenges, the Election Commission decided to push back the gubernatorial election by a week – when it would normally have been held on March 11. The time required to download and reconfigure the data contained in the BVAS before the next vote. “The problem is that this once again shows the glaring lack of preparation by the Independent National Electoral Commission.” Lawyer Aminu Abdel Mahmoud sighs. On the contrary, Idat Hassan hopes that this delay will allow Organizing credible elections and restoring voter confidence. The February 25 general election was marred by voter apathy, with only 27% of registered voters turning out to vote – or 25 million people out of more than 215 million people in Nigeria.


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