THE party of Nigeria’s president-elect Muhammadu Buhari has won governorship elections in a majority of Nigeria’s 36 states, building its strength nationwide after a historic presidential win, official results on Monday showed.
The All Progressives Congress took control of at least 19 governor’s seats following Saturday’s closely-fought regional polls but could add to that tally with results from several states still pending.
President Goodluck Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party had controlled the federal and most state governments since the end of military rule in 1999 but suffered major losses during Nigeria’s gripping 2015 election cycle.
The PDP was effectively wiped out in the mainly Muslim north, excluding Gombe state in the northeast, where incumbent Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo was re-elected.
Jonathan, a southern Christian, lost to Muslim northerner Buhari in the presidential vote two weeks ago, in the first ever democratic change of power at the federal level since Nigeria gained independence from Britain in 1960.
The president faced significant pressure to stand aside before the vote in favour of a PDP northern governor but insisted on running again, a decision that many experts believe helped fuel the APC’s rise.
The PDP lost governorship seats it had controlled in the northern states of Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi and Adamawa, the latter having been hit particularly hard by Boko Haram Islamist militants.
According to official results released so far, the only state the PDP wrestled away from APC control was the southern, oil-producing hub of Rivers.
Outgoing Rivers governor Rotimi Amaechi was elected on the PDP ticket in 2011 but defected to the APC in 2013.
The move in a state which borders Jonathan’s home of Bayelsa proved costly.
Jonathan won the presidential vote in Rivers with more than 95% support, while Amaechi’s hand-picked successor for the governor’s office, Dakuku Peterside, was trounced by the PDP’s Nyesom Wike, who won with 87% support.