By Julia Payne and Tim Cocks
LAGOS – Results in Nigeria’s governorship vote saw a swing towards president-elect Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) party on Monday, two weeks after it made history by unseating the incumbent in a presidential poll.
Eight states have so far abandoned the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) of defeated president Goodluck Jonathan in favour of the APC — which now has a total of 20 states, more than half of the territories up for grabs against the PDP’s 13.
The results completed an unprecedented shift in Nigerian politics, away from the PDP which has dominated since the end of military rule in 1999. These elections mark the first time since independence from Britain five decades ago that a ruling party has been forced out by the ballot box.
Nigeria’s 36 state governors are among the most powerful politicians in the country, controlling budgets bigger than those of many African countries and wielding influence that can decide which candidates go on presidential tickets.
Jonathan’s supporters took some heart by holding onto the strategically vital southern oil hub of Rivers state, in a landslide victory announced on Monday.
The governorship polls were held in just 29 states on Saturday, since seven had already been settled in by-elections over the past few years.