Lagos governor re-elected in victory for Nigeria ruling party


Lagos state gubernatorial candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Babajide Sanwo-Olu, arrives his polling unit to cast his vote, during the gubernatorial election in Lagos, Nigeria March 18, 2023. REUTERS/Vining Ogu

LAGOS (Reuters) - The governor of Lagos easily won re-election in low turn-out local voting, figures showed on Sunday, a victory for Nigeria's ruling party just weeks after the commercial capital backed the opposition in a disputed presidential election.

With votes tallied in districts representing 95% of voters, incumbent Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the ruling All Progressive Congress had more than 736,000 votes, compared to just 292,000 for his closest rival, the Labour Party's Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The turnout was just a small fraction of the 7 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 1999-2007 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 Independent National Election Commission (INEC) who presented results in Lagos on Sunday reported some ballot boxes had been snatched by thugs, 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 after 1600 GMT.

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 $4 billion.

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

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

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Peter Graff)

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