Yes, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in Bayelsa, Henry Seriake Dickson, won over 90 percent of votes in Saturday’s gubernatorial election, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission. The previous governor, Timipre Sylva, was barred from running again for allegedly threatening the President.
Reuters reported that at least one person was killed and several injured at a pre-election rally on Tuesday and turnout during Saturday’s ballot was low due to security concerns. The state deployed around 15,000 police to deter any potential unrest. Around 800 people were killed after last year’s presidential election in three days of violence between rival supporters and in clashes between Christian and Muslim gangs.
Some opposition parties refused to accept the result, saying there were irregularities, including ballot box snatching, multiple voting and harassment of party officials. Such accusations follow most Nigerians elections so they are not surprising.
This election matters for three reasons. First, the federal government doles out oil revenues to states, and then states are supposed to in turn distribute funds to localities. However, localities rarely receive the sums allotted to them because of state-level graft, so governors are key players in determining the degree of corruption in Nigeria. Second, Bayelsa is considered to be the hub of militant activity so the strength of leadership there has a resounding impact on the Niger Delta crisis and foreign companies’ comfort in investing in Nigeria. Third, having a PDP governor in office in his home state undergirds Jonathan’s presidency, as he was elected in large part because of professed ability to coordinate easily with state politicians there to handle security more effectively.