Nigeria back at polls

2011-04-26 09:13

Nigeria goes to the polls today for the third in a series of landmark votes this month, with elections to be held in most of the country’s 36 states for governorships and state assemblies.

Legislative polls in Nigeria were held on April 9, while presidential elections occurred on April 16, won by incumbent Goodluck Jonathan.

While the polls so far have been seen as a major step forward for Africa’s most populous nation, which has a history of deeply flawed ballots, the presidential election also set off a wave of unrest in the north.

A Nigerian rights group says more than 500 people were killed in the unrest.

Each of Nigeria’s states has a governor elected to terms of four years. Governors wield significant influence thanks to the large budgets and patronage networks they control in Africa’s largest oil producer.

For this reason, the governorship elections are also viewed as potentially volatile, especially with the ruling Peoples Democratic Party projected to lose a number of states.

Elections for governors will be held in a total of 26 states this week. Two states – Kaduna and Bauchi – saw their elections postponed to Thursday because of unrest there.

The other 10 states will not hold governorship ballots at this time because of court cases over previous election results that delayed the start of governors’ terms of office.

State assembly ballots will be held in all 36 states this week, though Kaduna and Bauchi will hold that election on Thursday as well.

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