Lagos governor re-elected in win for Nigeria’s ruling party

All Progressive Congress’s Babajide Sanwo-Olu led the voting with a clear margin over his closest rival from the Labour Party.

A voter casts her ballot at a polling station for gubernatorial and House of Assembly candidates during local elections in Lagos, Nigeria [Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP]

The governor of Lagos has easily won re-election in low-turnout local voting, figures have shown, marking a victory for Nigeria’s ruling party just weeks after the commercial capital backed the opposition in a disputed presidential election.

According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), incumbent Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) party had more than 736,000 votes after votes were tallied in districts representing 95 percent of voters on Sunday.

His closest rival, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party, secured 292,000 votes, according to the figures released by the INEC.

The turnout was just a small fraction of the seven million registered voters in Africa’s largest megacity, which has a population of more than 20 million people.

The Lagos election was the highest profile among races for powerful governorships in 28 of Nigeria’s 36 states, as well as for state assemblies across the country.

The race in Lagos had been expected to be close after opposition Labour candidate Peter Obi received the most votes in the state during last month’s disputed presidential election, which was won overall by Bola Tinubu of the APC.

Tinubu himself is a former Lagos governor, who ran the state from 1999 to 2007 and has since been seen as instrumental in picking his successors there, including Sanwo-Olu.

Obi has said he was robbed of victory by rampant fraud, and political analysts said the handling of last month’s presidential election could have discouraged some voters from participating in Saturday’s regional polls.

Some officials from the INEC who presented results in Lagos on Sunday reported some ballot boxes had been stolen, but said this was not widespread enough to affect the outcome of the vote.

Voting was postponed to Sunday at 10 polling stations in a Lagos neighbourhood following disagreements between INEC officials and voters over the location of polling units. Final results were expected later.

Governors wield wide influence in Africa’s most populous nation, and their support can help decide who becomes president.

Some governors preside over states whose annual budgets are bigger than those of some small African countries. Lagos has an annual budget of $4bn.

In northeastern Adamawa, a conservative and largely Muslim state, electoral officials were collating results after a race that could see Nigeria’s first female elected governor.

Voters were still casting ballots in two districts of oil-producing Rivers state, where the INEC failed to deliver voting materials.

Source: Reuters