Nigerian Elections: Jonathan’s Lead “Unassailable,” Governors’ Elections Approach [UPDATED]

Nigeria has now completed two of three votes it will hold this election season: legislative elections on April 9, and presidential elections on April 16.

As they emerge, results from the legislative elections point to a shift in the balance of power between political parties in Nigeria, with the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) seeing its majority shrink substantially.

Results from the presidential election, which strongly favor incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan (PDP), give a different picture: the PDP, by retaining the presidency, will continue to dominate Nigerian politics.

Now we await the state elections, which will take place on April 26. If the PDP loses a lot of governors’ seats (currently 26 out of 36 states have PDP governors), then we can confidently say that Jonathan will preside over a political scene dramatically changed from the one he inherited from the late President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2010.

In some ways, the political scene is changing even before the elections end. New media, youth activism, popular calls for transparency, and electoral reforms have made this election much different than the vote in 2007. “Politics from below” may prove more important than analysts have thought – though many people, in Nigeria and internationally, remain deeply cynical about Nigerian politics, a cynicism that has only deepened with Jonathan’s likely victory.

What are your impressions of the presidential vote?

[UPDATE]:

In response to reports of Jonathan’s victory, rioting has broken out in Northern states, including Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Gombe, and Adamawa.

In Kano, the largest city in in the north, homes displaying posters of Mr Jonathan were set on fire, and gangs of young men roamed the streets shouting “Only Buhari!”

In Kaduna, where a 24-hour curfew has been declared, youths clashed with the police and military in areas to the north and south of the city, with the security forces firing tear gas and live ammunition.

Local TV stations reported that the Kaduna home of Mr Jonathan’s running mate, Vice-President Namadi Sambo, was set on fire. They said the city’s central prison was attacked and inmates released.

More here.

Many Northerners are angry that an informal power-sharing system between the North and the South was disrupted by the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua (a Northerner) and the ascension of Jonathan (a Southerner). Many supporters of General Muhammadu Buhari say that Buhari has been repeatedly cheated of his rightful victories (including against Yar’Adua). Jonathan reached out to the North during the campaign, but that outreach did not heal all of the wounds that remained from flawed elections in the past. Jonathan will clearly face some challenges in building legitimacy in the North. I will update as more news comes in. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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