Southwest Nigerian state votes for new governor

Southwest Nigerian state votes for new governor

Nigeria's southwest Osun state has become a battleground to test support for the leading hopefuls ahead of next year's presidential polls
Nigeria's southwest Osun state has become a battleground to test support for the leading hopefuls ahead of next year's presidential polls. Photo: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP
Source: AFP

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Election officials began counting ballots on Saturday after Nigeria's southwest Osun state went to the polls to elect a new governor in a final test for next year's presidential elections.

The frontrunners are incumbent governor Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress, senator Ademola Adeleke of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Akin Ogunbiyi of the Accord Party and Labour's Yusuf Lasun.

Analysts expect the contest to become a two-horse race between old political foes Oyetola and Adeleke -- who lost by less than 500 votes after a run-off four years ago.

"I left home very early so that I can use my vote to elect the governor that will improve the welfare of the people," Adenike Adeyiola, a 32-year-old university student, told AFP.

The ballot is seen as a battleground for Nigeria's leading parties to test support for their presidential hopefuls ahead of the February 2023 election as President Muhammadu Buhari steps down following eight years in office.

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"Am in the race to win and by the grace of God, I will triumph," a smiling and waving Adeleke told a large crowd as he voted in his hometown of Ede.

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Osun is among eight of Nigeria's 36 states where governorship elections are not being held at the same time as the rest of the country because of legal challenges to previous results.

Polling stations opened from 08:30 am (0730 GMT) to 2:30 pm on Saturday, but long lines formed in the state capital Osogbo as early as 06:00 am.

According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), 1.9 million voters registered to participate in the ballot.

"Sorting and counting of the ballot papers have commenced," said electoral official Opemipo Adelusi in Osogbo, the state capital.

The winner will be known by Sunday, he added.

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Operatives of Nigeria's anti-graft agency EFCC stormed some polling centres, including that of PDP's Adeleke in Ede to monitor the ballot and arrest anybody offering or taking money for votes.

Nigeria has a history of election malpractice, fraud, vote-buying and violence.

On Monday, the residence of Lasun, the Labour party candidate, in his Ilobu hometown, was attacked by gunmen but he was not at home.

There was heavy security presence as security forces mounted road blocks to restrict people and vehicles in major cities.

Police deployed over 23,000 personnel, helicopters and drones to try to ensure a trouble-free election.

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Source: AFP

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