Nigeria ruling party wins governorship vote in central state

AFP , Sunday 6 Dec 2015

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's ruling party has won the governorship in central Kogi state after a re-run vote, the electoral body said Sunday, in the first major ballot box test since the March presidential election.

Voters went to the polls Saturday to elect new governors in Kogi and in Bayelsa, home state of former president Goodluck Jonathan, with tensions high and the electoral body under scrutiny.

It is the first big test since Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was elected in March, ousting Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Results were still awaited from Bayelsa State, amid a high police presence after a campaign marred by deadly violence.

The Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (INEC) said Yahaya Bello of the APC polled more than 247,700 votes in Kogi to emerge on top, while incumbent Idris Wada of the PDP scored almost 204,900.

INEC had declared a November 21 poll inconclusive while the sudden death of APC candidate Abubakar Audu, who seemed poised to win, led to legal challenges and wrangling about who would replace him.

A partial re-run of the governorship election was held in 90 districts on Saturday.

Lagos-based constitutional lawyer Jiti Ogunye said the election was crucial, not only for gauging the level of PDP support after it was battered in the presidential election.

"INEC had a terrible outing in Kogi last month, organising an inconclusive election which has aroused hot legal contestation," he said.

In Bayelsa, incumbent governor Seriake Dickson, a 49-year-old lawyer representing Jonathan's PDP, is hoping for another four-year term against former governor Timipre Sylva.

Sylva, 51, was hoping for a comeback in what would be a major victory for the APC in a traditional PDP heartland.

But with Jonathan having secured some 98 percent of the vote in Bayelsa during his unsuccessful re-election bid in March, the odds are stacked against the APC in the oil-producing southern state.

Saturday's vote was marred by violence with a spokesman for Dickson saying a woman was shot dead while unofficial reports said at least four people lost their lives.

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