Updated: March 4, 2021
Millions of Nigerian voters returned to the polls on Saturday to elect billionaire state governors, following a presidential election that returned President Muhammadu Buhari to power on February 23.
Mr Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress defeated Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party in last month’s presidential election with 15.2 million votes to 11.3 million. Atiku has rejected the results and is heading to court to seek redress.
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Nigeria has 36 states plus the federal capital territory, which is not run by a governor, and this election is for 29 of the country’s 36 governors.
Many of these governors are extremely powerful and rich, traveling to the capital Abuja every month to share proceeds from oil, with a substantial part of the money ending up in their own bank accounts or with cronies.
Many become multi billionaires in Nigerian currency after taking office. They often have millions of dollars at home and travel abroad with a blizzard of aides.
With so much money involved, and so much at stake, governorship elections in Nigeria are often marred by violence.
Last month, at least 39 people were killed during the presidential polls, according to Situation Room, a monitoring mission comprising over 70 civic groups.
But the Nigerian military said on Friday that everything was set for peaceful elections this time.
“The Armed Forces of Nigeria, as a professional and reputable institution, wish to reassure the public that no reprisal attack will be carried out by any military personnel,” the military said via a spokesman.
Two of Nigeria’s most populous states, Lagos in the Southwest and Kano in the North, would be closely watched, as they may switched to the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from the All Progressives Congress (APC).