Nigerians will on Saturday vote in delayed governorship polls, weeks after a controversial and disputed presidential election.
The gubernatorial race will be decided in 28 of Nigeria’s 36 states as the ruling party scrambles to regain lost ground in key states.
But all eyes will be on the tense contest for control of the country’s wealthy Lagos State, which analysts say will be the “most competitive” in the state’s history.
“This may be the most competitive governorship election in Lagos State,” political analyst Sam Amadi says.
“Many have tried to upturn Lagos in the past and failed because of the entrenched power of Bola Tinubu. As President-elect, his influence may have grown in Lagos but the Obidients are strong,” Amadi says, speaking of supporters of Labour Party presidential candidate Peter Obi.
Obi caused shockwaves when it emerged he beat President-Elect Bola Tinubu in his Lagos home turf but placed third in the presidential poll.
Obi has rejected Tinubu’s victory and is contesting the results in the courts.
The presidential elections on February 25 were widely criticized for widespread delays, outbreaks of violence and attempts at voter suppression.
Several observers including the European Union also said the election fell short of expectations and “lacked transparency.”
The battle for Lagos
The battle for Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub and one of Africa’s largest cities has typically been a two-party race that has never been won by the opposition.
This is partly credited to political godfather and kingmaker, Bola Tinubu, who is said to have handpicked every Lagos governor since leaving office in 2007.
Tinubu’s firm grip on Lagos politics now faces an unprecedented threat in Obi’s third-force Labor Party, after losing on home turf.
Obi is the first presidential candidate from the opposition to win in Lagos
Amadi says his popularity with young people might be the game changer in the Lagos gubernatorial poll.
“They (Obidients) won Lagos in the last (presidential) poll but feel cheated and suppressed. So we might see a more vehement fight. It depends on how motivated and aggrieved the Obidients feel now,” he said.